Irish stand-up comedian and television star Sean Hughes has died at the age of 51.
The London Evening Standard reports that he died in the capital’s Whittington Hospital on Sunday night after suffering a cardiac arrest. The most recent tweet from his account, posted on 8 October, simply read: “In hospital.”
Hughes became the youngest person ever to win the coveted Perrier Comedy Award - now known as the Edinburgh Comedy Award - in 1990. After appearing in a number of film roles, Hughes became a household name as a team captain on the BBC panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks, “poking fun at the boy band members and minor celebrities who appeared alongside him”, says the broadcaster.
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He was famously caught up in the tsunami in Sri Lanka in 2004, but said in an interview with The Guardian that it hadn’t had a long-term effect on him.
“I’m lucky to be alive – but it changes you for two days, then you're back watching Neighbours at lunchtime,” he said.
“My philosophy is that you can’t force change. I matured very late in life. The idea of not drinking five years ago would have been alien to me. I was blocking things out with drink. You realise that when you’re dealing with a death, you can’t block it out. But you have to come to all these places on your own. Once you realise that, you become a more rounded person.”
Tributes have flooded in from the world of comedy. Stand-up Al Murray said: “Sean Hughes won the Perrier the summer I decided to try being a comic. He was being daft, meta, ironic and Byronic all at once, after a decade when stand-up had reinvented itself.
“He made stand-up look fun, glamorous and above all a creative place where you could play. It's terribly sad news to hear of his passing.”
Here are some of Hughes’s best jokes and clips from his long and varied career:
On being Irish in London:
Sparring with Clive Anderson just after his Perrier Comedy Award win in 1990:
On dealing with the events of the 2004 tsunami:
Contending with a flirtatious Boy George:
And trying to keep Mark Owen from Take That in the right key:
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