FRINGE 18: 5 mins with Charmian Hughes

All the way from London, Charmian Hughes, is over here with a new comedy quest, Bra Trek. Bra Trek explores the question – What do you do if you don’t fit the world’s idea of how you should be? Charmian, is an award nominated comedian who started out performing as a clown and improviser. We caught up with her ahead of her show at the Auckland Fringe.

Is this your first Fringe Auckland? How different is an Auckland audience to other audiences?
I performed at the 2017 Auckland fringe at Q Theatre with my show Charmian Hughes – Soixante Mirth. It was my very first visit to New Zealand so hugely exciting. I have performed at six Edinburgh festivals, the Glastonbury festival, and many other fringes, but Auckland took me by surprise with the generosity and attentiveness of the audiences. They were so open and lovely. Many waited after the show for a hug!

Describe your show in three words or less…

Fringe Festivals are known for the weird, wacky, and utterly wonderful – what’s the most bizzare thing you’ve come across during your Fringe history?
Sometimes the most bizarre things get embraced by the world. Last Edinburgh comedian Rob Kemp did the whole of The Evil Dead 2 through the songs of Elvis Presley while the film was projected onto his body. He sold out and got nominated for every prize going. Totally amazing result from an insane idea.

What are your top 3 picks for Auckland Fringe?
I started performing life as a clown, so LADIES OF THE BIG TOP look awesome. Also, THE PLASTIC ORGASM – a must for all of us concerned about the effect pornography has on our real lives and sexual expectations and esteem. (I touch on this myself in my show with my exploration of the unreal expectations fairy tales imbue us with from an early age.) Finally, for an overseas visitor like me, BOAT DATE looks irresistible and the kind of quirky unique thing I love.

Where will we find you during the festival?
I am staying with old friends in Grey Lynn. In 1981 I was rescued from my boring life of square conventional middle class-dom by a group of feisty New Zealand women who worked in the same London office. They introduced me to blues parties, squatting houses, Nick Cave and The Birthday Party! We have been bosom buddies ever since and last year I came over to celebrate the fact we had all hit the age of sixty at the same time! I will also be hanging round in town spontaneously catching as many shows as I can, hopefully warming up after a wet British winter and having fun.

What would we find if we raided your fridge? Yoghurt, the magic talisman for bad tummies in strange places! And cheese, lots of cheese. I know I should go vegan, just give me more time.

Tell us about your spirit animal?
A dog! My old dog Clifford died just before Christmas. I feel he is my shadow companion still. He was a very challenging creature, a rescue hound, very conflicted inside. We are all a bit like him – we want to belong and be loved, we want to love but are afraid. And we smell a bit.

Word Association:
Fringe– haircut
Fridge – cheese
Auckland – water
Festival – lights
Lights – boats
Chocolate – mousse
Winter – warmth
Theatre – wonderland

Charmian Hughes performs in Bra Trek at Garnet Station Thurs 1 – Sun 4 March. Buy your tickets here.