Words by Jess Hake
A self-proclaimed female Richard Pryor, Hughes’ show To Catch A D*ck, was a refreshing change of pace. She delivered critical humour to an American audience and it was incredible. Coupled with this, her emphasis on the ‘hoe’ life through a genuine lens, without any fetishization, led to one of the best pieces of comedy I have ever watched. Her approach was truly new to the screen and, in turn, led me to watch the show on repeat… five times (yes, I was procrastinating my work but that shouldn’t be the takeaway from this).
Another way that Hughes’ style is distinct to her is movement. All too many times my eyes have started to glaze over as a comedian stands at a mic talking, acting as if rigor mortis has consumed their entire body, aside from their mouth. Yet not with Hughes! Her use of movement to deliver satirical points, usually confined to private chats and never before seen on screen, is a beautiful pairing. Furthermore, each movement seems deliberate, as if to aid her taking command of the stage (not just the screen).
Hughes really doesn’t need to do anything aside from be herself to deserve an article solely dedicated to her comedic prowess, yet she also mentions Brighton. We’re The Badger, we operate out of Sussex (Brighton) – of course this is going to make us smile. Moving to Brighton in her youth, her mention of Brighton life and hoe friends is something every true Brightonian can get behind.
As well as referencing Brighton several times in her stand-up routine, she also delivered some brilliant ‘Hoe Life’ tips. Now, I would share them; however, I really don’t want to be sued and also don’t want to deprive you all of the experience of viewing Hughes’ work for the first time. All I can say is that you need to watch this show twice. Once for pleasure and a second time for educational purposes, equipped with a pen and paper.
Coupled with providing pure talent, Hughes does something else as well. She makes the audience question how race, sexuality and identity politics affect the reality of life. One that stuck with me was the sex appeal of male comics, in contrast to female. Now, I have seen a fair bit of stand-up and I’ve also seen what happens at the end. Weedy, lanky and ‘teenage-boy-man-looking’ comedians get overwhelmed by female attention at the end of every show; however, the same is not true for women. Hughes expands on this point, and others akin in relation to identity politics anecdotal consequence, without coming across remotely patronising to her audience, something I have witnessed time and time again from the majority of comics that have specials on Netflix. As a result, Hughes’ work is reflective of real life, void of the voyeuristic lens a lot of comics use in order to ghettoise, fetishize and exploit the lived experiences of Black persons, women and Black women.
Considering the consistent jovial and genuine tone of London Hughes throughout her show (that should have received an awful lot more promotion than it did Netflix), the aftermath of her work has left an impression that transcends the funny one liners some comics rely on. The remedy to a bad mood, confused mind or desperate need for procrastination that has an impact – How to Catch a Dick is what you need. If not a legend already, London Hughes is iconic and with a successful Netflix show already under her belt, I wait with baited breath for what she will release next.