Dave Hughes has been making audiences laugh for more than two decades. Born in the Victorian coastal town of Warrnambool, the larrikin's deadpan Aussie humour has made '"Hughesy", as he's affectionately known, a household name.
Moving from the comedy circuit to radio and TV gigs, including The Project and his own show Hughesy, We Have A Problem, the comedian has won over audiences everywhere, except for one important place: at home.
Dave's kids Rafferty, 10, Sadie, eight, and Tess, six, are proving his toughest critics to date.
"They have a pretty good sense of humour and they get the jokes – but they're not easily impressed," Dave, 49, tells TV WEEK.
But he doesn't take it to heart…much. Based in Melbourne with wife Holly, 40, and his kids, Dave recalls a recent dress-up party son Rafferty attended dressed as singer Tones And I. His effort won praise from the ARIA-winning artist herself.
"I showed him she'd called him 'a little legend' on Instagram," Dave says.
"But he couldn't care less! So maybe they are impressed [with me] and just don't want me to know."
Dave's most recent role as a panellist on the Network 10 hit show The Masked Singer alongside Jackie O, Dannii Minogue and Lindsay Lohan earned him brownie points with the kids.
"They actually watched that – it's a great family show," he says. "They weren't, however, impressed with my dancing.
I was having a dance, trying to get a laugh, and they said, 'Dad, your dances are stupid.'"To which he quips, in typical droll style, "I know, but my 'stupid dances' are paying for your iPad!"
While Rafferty, Sadie and Tess are good at taking their dad down a peg, Dave says they're even better at providing him with comedy anecdotes.
He's said he wouldn't mind a fourth child "because they're good for material, but my wife says that's not a good enough reason".
Now hosting a third season of Hughesy, We Have A Problem, Dave recalls how his six-year-old daughter appeared on the show.
"She came on, pointed her Star Wars gun in my face and asked: 'Do you want to see Jesus?'" he says with a laugh.
There are plenty more problems to solve – and laughs to be had – in the show's new season.
"It's nuts – it's more stuff where I can't believe we just did that on TV," Dave explains. "It's a lot of oversharing and laughing at everyone's expense – and our own – which is great."
This year is shaping up to be huge for Dave, not just with the return of Hughesy, but also thanks to season two of The Masked Singer, a comedy tour, and a milestone birthday to celebrate: the comedian is turning the big 5-0.
"I know 50 is a big one – people keep winding me up about how it makes me old and I'm like, 'Shut up!'" he says. "At least I'll get jokes out of it. As long as I get jokes out of something, it's alright."While Dave is "dealing with" the somewhat daunting notion of turning 50, it seems his career won't be slowing down anytime soon.
"Right now, I'm in holiday mode, thinking, 'I don't have a stand-up gig tonight – that's annoying,'" he says.
"I love it; I love stand-up comedy and making audiences laugh."
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