Comedian London Hughes has three rules when it comes to finding a boyfriend. He needs to have free parking outside his house. He can’t live at his parents’ place. He has to have a double bed (she says you’d be surprised how many times she’s found herself in a single).
It’s not often that we hear from women who are proactively – and proudly – seeking a relationship. "There's that Bridget Jones kind of thing, but there’s not the I’m a boss ass bitch, I’m living my best life but I’m lonely, so where’s bae?" London tells Refinery29 over the phone. This is where her wonderfully brash and wildly unfiltered new relationship podcast London, Actually (see what they did there?) comes in.
Throughout the series, London enlists various celebrity friends to help her find a man. In the first episode, she's joined by comedian Phil Wang who, in his effort to help with the quest, decides that "love is a state of entrapment". London's mum stops by to share some words of wisdom (and frank commentary) on her daughter's love life. We sit in on a conversation between two single people who have a very awkward first date over the phone. We also hear the very NSFW reason why London is nicknamed 'The Seagull'. It's all very revealing and you'll struggle not to laugh through most of it.
Beyond the outrageous anecdotes and funny revelations about trying to find someone who's as amazing as you know you are, in later episodes London delves into less jokey territory, too. "I've got an episode where I talk about what it's like dating when you're black. I talk about my relationship with black men that have not been interested in me and also white men that have tried to fetishise me. It's just real and I feel like it needed to be said," she explains.
We caught up with London just weeks after finishing her show How To Catch a D*ck in Edinburgh, where she was nominated for the Dave Edinburgh Comedy Award, and days before she flew out to LA where she's working on a new TV comedy show. Ahead, we unpack what went into putting together one of the most outrageous yet relatable new podcasts to hit the airwaves and where London gets her unwavering confidence from.
Refinery29: The podcast is exciting! It feels like you’ve got so much on at the moment.
London Hughes: I’m a very hard worker and it’s all worked out at around about the same time. The podcast, we started that last year and I’m really excited about it.
When I listened I was cackling at my desk really inappropriately while everyone else was trying to work. So now I know that it’s really not safe to listen to at work...
It’s really not! I said it when I posted it on Instagram and people were like, "No, I’m going to listen to it at work." A girl tweeted me saying she listened to it on the bus and the sexy bit, when you can hear me orgasm, a lady moved from next to her and sat all the way at the back of the bus. It’s been fun.
Does it feel like an extension of your show or is this a different vibe for you?
No, it’s a different vibe. I’m enjoying the process of making it and my mouth is so free – I have such a free mouth, I have no filter – so having a podcast is really cool. I can just say whatever I want to say and that’s been so much fun because in stand-up shows you can say so much but it has to be funny and you’ve only got an hour. You’ve got an hour to be funny and make a point. Whereas [in the podcast] I can just say whatever comes into my mind in the world of dating and how I feel, and I share almost too much in the podcast. Some of the episodes… I’m cringing, like, did I share too much? [laughs] But I’m not scared to say how I feel about things. It’s been so much fun but it's very different to writing a stand-up show, definitely.
One of the things I enjoy, particularly in this podcast, is that you have the confidence that I wish I had. You’re this big ball of self-assuredness!
That’s what I want to promote so I’m glad you got that from it!
Where do you think you draw your confidence and excitement about yourself from?
You know what, it’s all from myself. I got bullied in university by my friends. I had friends who would tear me down and would be so horrible – bullying is horrible as it is but it’s worse when it comes from people that you actually care about. I’d come home from work and there’d be a house party going on in my house that I’m not invited to. Or they’d leave their washing up dishes outside my bedroom door, like, You have to wash this up. They’d have interventions. They’d be like, "This is an intervention, we need to talk about you," and they’d just tell me what they don’t like about me.
When you go through stuff like that, you develop your own kind of self-confidence because the opposite is just going crazy. And so even though they were telling me all these things were wrong with me, I knew I was alright. And it was in comedy where I got that validation from strangers. I was like, Okay, so it’s just those girls who didn’t like me, but these strangers think I’m funny. These strangers want to come to my show. These strangers are going out of their way to be my friends or want to get to know me so clearly, I am of some worth. Comedy really helped ... You may not like me or like how I dress or the things I talk about but there are strangers out there who think I'm funny and that’s enough for me.
I love that you repeat "I’m awesome" in the podcast, too.
Women are taught to believe that if someone’s like, "Oh I love myself," it's big-headed or they’re arrogant. No, you’re supposed to love yourself! That is literally the number one thing you’re supposed to do. Me being awesome does not take away from your awesomeness, you can be awesome too!
I think lots of women aren’t confident in saying "I want a boyfriend" or "I want to be in a relationship" so it’s cool that this whole podcast is about you trying to find a man – let's all help you! Did you notice that people don’t tend to talk about wanting or needing that?
Yes, there’s a lot of single successful women out there and their voices are being trampled on! No one cares! There’s the whole I wanna find a man and marry and settle down kind of stuff; there's that Bridget Jones kind of thing. But there’s not the I’m a boss ass bitch, I’m living my best life but I’m lonely, so where’s bae? I’m not trying to be a wife, I’m not trying to cook, I’m not trying to be a mother, I just know that I want someone to share it with. I feel like it’s okay that we’re saying that. More women need to come forward and not be shy to say, "Yeah, I would like a man". We don’t need one – that’s what we need to stress – I don’t need a man, I just want one.