From working as a brickie to selling milkshakes, Dave ‘Hughesy’ Hughes has had his fair share of employment stories. Hughesy chats to The Brief ahead of the RCSA Industry Awards where he will be the MC of the Australian event in June.
Dave Hughes knows what rejection looks and feels like; he reckons he has been sacked from more jobs than he cares to count. Despite this, the popular Australian comedian has been able to find enough self-belief to keep forging ahead to establish a career many would be envious of.
Today Hughes, who is commonly known as “Hughesy”, is a leading comedic media personality with a drive-time radio show now on the HIT Network, and has a new television show as well as stand-up performances and hosting gigs.
His dogged persistence, refusal to accept rejection as a defining factor in how he sees himself and his approach to storytelling will combine to make him an entertaining MC at this year’s RCSA Industry Awards to be held at Peninsula Docklands in Melbourne on June 14.
“I have been sacked from so many jobs,” he told The Brief. “I was working as a brickie for half a day in Perth and was sacked because the boss said I looked like a dreamer and would probably walk off the scaffolding.”
Hughesy, who clearly was never cut out for a career in the construction industry, said he knew from about the age of 11 that he wanted to be a comedian after giving a stand-up performance for schoolmates.
“I was at our Year 6 camp and did an impromptu performance for a few people there and I knew then that I wanted to be front and centre on stage,” he said.
“I had it in my head from a very young age that was what I wanted to do. I loved comedy and thought I could do that, get paid for it and be famous. I just love being on stage. Any chance to get on stage I take; my wife thinks I am a workaholic but I just like the attention.
“I have always been ambitious in a way and, as pathetic as this sounds, I have always thought I was special and would do well,” he laughed.
But success did not come easily for Hughesy.
After leaving school, he toyed with a couple of university courses before dropping out and taking work at the local abattoir. And from there, his colourful but short stints at a virtual procession of employers went from selling milkshakes to selling advertising.
“I remember going for a sales job and was asked if I had a car,” he recalled. “I didn’t but wanted to work so I said I did. I got the job and had to go around on the train selling advertising space in a local newspaper. I think I lasted a couple of weeks and I may have sold one ad.
“I worked as an attendant at a petrol station and was sacked because I was washing people’s windows. Apparently I was setting the bar too high. I was sacked from a dishwashing job because apparently I wasn’t cleaning the dishes well enough.
“And I remember being devastated when Kmart opened at Warrnambool and I applied and didn’t get a job there. That was a huge blow to my self-esteem. I’ve had a lot of blows to my self-esteem trying to find work.”
Hughesy, who clearly was also not cut out for a career as a service station attendant, advertising salesman or dishwasher, spent a lot of his younger days in job interviews, usually directly with employers but also occasionally with a recruitment firm.
He said most of the interviews he went for were completely forgettable but he did learn a few things about the interview process along the way. Hughesy said every job he applied for, he did so with the intention of securing an interview and the position.
“I always wanted to work,” he said. “Always! So I sometimes went for jobs I probably shouldn’t have. But I did plan on getting each job I went for because I really did want to be earning an income.”
And while the process of getting a job may have evolved significantly since his days at the CES, he says his shift in focus from what others were telling him he could do, to his own self-belief were key to his success.
“I was rejected a lot, I was sacked a lot,” he recalled. “I was told I wasn’t funny. I was told my voice wasn’t right for radio but I just kept at it.
“My third time on stage went really well for me and that just ignited me. I knew as I walked across that stage that I was already a winn