Performer: Charmian Hughes Photograph by: David Pickens Show: Charmian Hughes - Bra Trek Venue: The Counting House Attic Promoter: Indie Online: Box Office Facebook Website
Tell me about your Edinburgh show.
Bra Trek is about finding where we fit in life and a bra that fits – it’s “bra as metaphwoar”. We assume we grow up learning to be us and forging our identities through loving parents, wise elders and learned books, but more likely it’s from gaslighting siblings, school frenemies and sadistic teachers having a bad day.
Tell me about your first gig.
It was 1984. I was in a clown troupe performing at the Moleworth Peace festival – a protest against nuclear missiles at the American air force base there. I’d spent the day entertaining ungrateful, anarchic and scary children. In the evening there was cabaret in a big old circus tent. After a couple of brandies, I donned my red nose, leapt on stage and said, “I’m a clown, I’ve done all the clown workshops” and everyone laughed. Probably at me rather than with me, but it all counts. And I continued in that vein with some pretentious mime called My Orgasm A Woman’s Story. it was so successful people threw paper cups at me, recyclable of course, and the rest is History.
Do you have any rituals before going on stage?
I go a bit blank and tired beforehand and can’t imagine ever being present enough to be on stage. My main concern is that my nose doesn’t hold any horrible bogie surprises that are going to start dangling out, so I do lots of blowing, and jig around a bit like we do in the Tai Chi Class For Elders that I do on Thursdays.
Tell me about your best and worst review.
Your worst review can be your best review – Three Weeks once said, “this isn’t comedy, this is a cry for help” and that looks great on a poster. Chortle sneered, “Like Josie Long’s Mum,” which looks complimentary. Critics are much more imaginative when they are slagging you off. When they like the show they waffle, and it sounds like your mum wrote it. This year one reviewer in New Zealand had only one word – “Buxom”.
During this Edinburgh run, do you plan to read reviews of your show?
I always intend to ignore them, but I find it hard. Reviewers are like exam invigilators – both are usually young and unemployed the rest of the year and enjoy a power surge for a short intense period of time.
How do you feel about reviewers generally?
It depends on how many stars they give me.
In April 2018, YouTube comedian, Markus Meechan (aka Count Dankula) was fined £800 for training his girlfriend’s pug dog to do a Nazi salute with its paw, in response to the phrase ‘Gas the Jews’. Do you believe Meechan committed a criminal offence, and why?
The world would be a better place with compulsorily good manners. Our default should be, “does this hurt or scare people? Does this make the world a better place?”
But was his prosecution an infringement of his freedom of speech? Or was it about amplifying racial hatred through social media?
What if the dog responded to the command “Invade Poland”? Would that have been less bad?
What if it was an avante garde piece comparing German nationhood to Pavlov’s dog, where people follow orders when their inner racism is legitimized by an authoritarian power. That would have been quite a good defence, actually.
When does your freedom of speech become dangerous to others? But, if that is a consideration, its then one easy step to what if your freedom of speech becomes dangerous to the government?
To think that clever dog could have been taught to do something that won Britain’s Got Talent instead.
Have you ever gone too far?
I can read an audience now, but in the old days I picked on a volunteer and he refused saying “My dad’s just died,” and I said, “what are you doing out then?”
Looking back over your time as a comedian, tell me about the best gig of your career.
I’m always thinking I’ve just had the best gig of my career! The only way is up.