Whether it was due to the sleety showers outside or a lower TV profile in recent years, comedian Sean Hughes couldn't hide his dismay at the poor turnout to the only West Midlands date on his What I Meant to Say Was… UK tour.

Two-thirds of the seats at Wolverhampton's Grand Theatre were empty for the former Never Mind the Buzzcocks team captain’s return to the town just two and a half years after his triumphant comeback gig at the Wulfrun Hall after a ten year break from stand-up.

While the new breed of comics are busy making a name for themselves on Mock the Week, Eight Out of 10 Cats and Live at the Apollo, Hughes has sadly dropped off the comedy radar.

And it doesn't help that nowadays he is virtually unrecognisable as the skinny Irish star of Sean's Show and Sean’s Shorts.

The now bearded 44-year-old admitted to struggling with middle age and made frequent mention of his physical shortcomings – particularly his substantial stomach after finally quitting a 60-a-day nicotine habit 18 months ago.

He talked about his eternal singledom, the fact he is not yet a father and his penchant for sighing for no reason and reminisced about growing up in London and Ireland in the 80s.

These days he likes to push the comedy boundaries which he puts down to being slightly autistic. He’s at his most comfortable when his audience are cringing and he certainly tested the patience of the Wolverhampton crowd by peppering his routine with references to Wolves’ possible relegation. But full marks to him for doing his homework on the Black Country!

Most of his set was well received but his usual silliness was replaced by darker material and despite his best efforts to win the crowd over some jokes fell completely flat leaving him with a battle to win them back for the second half.

The routine’s haphazard structure - he likes to banter with the crowd in between prepared material - and his tendency to mumble didn’t help but the woefully small audience meant even when the laughs came they sounded hollow in the three-tier theatre.

So it was no surprise when he dashed off the stage without an encore after delivering his parting line.

I have a feeling that will be one gig he’ll be glad to forget...