Caro Meets Comedy Interview

Tim Key: Single White Slut

By | Published on Thursday 13 March 2014

I am not sure how much introduction Tim Key needs, because I feel as though I’ve known of his existence for a very long time, and that surely everyone must know who he is…? But, you know, some readers may not be so aware of his work, so, for your benefit, he’s the 2009 winner of the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Award, known for his quirky poetic performances which won him exposure on such shows as ‘Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe’. You may also recognise him from his appearances as Sidekick Simon alongside Steve Coogan’s Alan Partridge.

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This month, Key is performing his latest live piece ‘Single White Slut’ in the Arcola Tent. I sent him over some questions about – amongst other things – the new show, poetry, Russia, and the word ‘slut’.

CM: For readers who don’t know what a Tim Key show is like, can you explain what they can expect from Single White Slut?
TK: The safest thing is to expect nothing, then anything they do get is a bonus. The things I can definitely promise are that I will wear a light blue denim onesie and there’ll be poetry. If you pushed me I would say there is also some general talking, yelling, stomping and a filing cabinet. So something for everyone. I think it’s quite surprising. I enjoy it, anyway.

CM: How did poetry become such a big part of your performance life? Do you read/like poetry?
TK: Can’t quite fathom it myself. It’s an anomaly. I know I started writing poetry a bit when I was maybe about thirtyish, and then I showed a man it, and then I got asked to do stand-up somewhere, hated the idea of stand-up and asked if I could read out these little poems. It went well and I guess became my “act”. It surprised me, anyway. I never really read poetry as a kid. I wanted to be a footballer like any sane person, but no, it was poetry in the end.

CM: You’ve been doing shows with ‘slut’ in the title for some years now. Can you explain how the first one came about and why you’ve continued with the theme?
TK: Accidentally painted myself into a branding corner. I called my first show ‘The Slut In The Hut’ because I was in The Pleasance Hut and I liked the sound of it. Then I ran with it and called the second one ‘Slutcracker’ and after that it was pretty much unstoppable. They’re a lot of fun to think of. My mum suggested “The Slut Whisperer” which I think is quite beautiful.

CM: ‘Slut’ is a slightly contentious word, isn’t it? A lot of people hate it, and some women want to ‘reclaim’ it. What’s your opinion on it?
TK: Well, I just banged it in my title because it rhymed with hut. It sits well(ish) with the show.

CM: On a scale of one to ten, how exciting was it to become Alan Partridge’s sidekick?
TK: Nine.

CM: In the past you did a double act (with Tom Basden) and were a member of sketch troupe Cowards. Do you find it harder or easier to write/perform alone?
TK: It’s nice to have a balance, I find. I love working on my own sometimes, but it does, inevitably, drive you mad after a while. “Working” is a bit of a loose term, too. It’s a real war – a battle against distractions and other more appealing things – discipline is the hardest thing. But it’s nice to make something where before there was nothing there. Working with other people is a nice antidote to this. You can discuss ideas over a beer and count it as work and you can share success and failure, which does make it less distressing and more fun.

CM: You studied Russian at university, and you’ve made radio documentaries with Russian themes – where does your interest in Russia come from?
TK: I lived in Kiev for a bit when I was eighteen and liked what I saw. I learnt a tiny smattering of Russian and changed my degree to Russian, to try and get good at it. I got mucked in for four years, but haven’t been back since. There’s definitely a residual fascination with that part of the world though. Quite indefinable. I like Russian rock music for example. I’m not even joking.

CM: What would you be doing in life if you weren’t doing what you are doing?
TK: I always said I’d give it six months and see where I was, and if it was clearly a waste of everyone’s time I would go to Russia and do something there. I think I would have tried to get a job in St Petersburg and try and get fluent, which would have taken a loooooong time. So I think maybe I would have been there now. Looking Russian. Living as Russians live.

CM: Where do you see yourself in ten years time? What do you want to have achieved?
TK: I hope I’m still doing this sort of thing. I do feel privileged. I work with a lot of really talented people and it is – sometimes – a lot of fun. And every year it gets a bit more interesting and scary. So I guess I hope that that keeps on happening. And one day I’d like to make a film.

CM: What’s next for ‘Single White Slut’, and for you in 2014?
TK: Do the show in The Arcola Tent. Then take it to Australia for two weeks. Then do it in The Duchess in April, and then Edinburgh in August. May, June and July are up for grabs. There’s some work stuff I’ll try and do, and a World Cup to watch. Plus I bought a barbecue last week, so I’m quite interested in putting that through its paces.

Tim Key performs ‘Single White Slut’ at Arcola Theatre until 29 March. See the venue website for info and tickets.  He’ll also be doing a run at The Duchess Theatre from the end of April – see this page here.

LINKS: www.timkey.co.uk | www.arcolatheatre.comwww.theinvisibledot.com | twitter.com/timkeyperson |



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