The Melbourne International Comedy Festival is rapidly approaching, and Bon Vivant will be speaking to some of the performers who’ll grace the bars, clubs and theatres of our fair city. Today, Daniel Hedger chats to Tim Key about his show, his poetry, and the word ‘slut’.
Hi Tim. Thanks for talking to Bon Vivant. I saw your show in 2010 and loved it.
What can we expect from your new show Masterslut?
Masterslut is a fusion/mess of various things. There are poems, there’s some talking, there’s some clambering over the audience, there are black and white filmettes and I have a bath. But I know what I’m doing so it all works out just fine.
The last time you came to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival was in 2010 with your show the Slutcracker and your 2007 show was called the Slut in the Hut. Is there a continuity of theme with this new show or do you just like the word ‘slut’?
I love the word slut – I’m only human – but truth be told I’ve painted myself into a corner, brandingwise. My first show was called Slut in the Hut because slut rhymed with hut and a lot of the material was fairly sexual/squallid. After that, I hit upon the name Slutcracker and thought it had a beautiful poetic horror about it that was just too good not to use. Now I’m in a rut. Masterslut this year. Eyes Wide Slut is waiting to be written. I’m not proud of the situation.
How much of your on-stage persona is derived from your real personality?
50%. There’s more of me in there now than there used to be. But the stuff my guy on stage says wouldn’t be sustainable in real life.
Do you worry that your poems aren’t taken seriously because you’re often performing at comedy festivals?
Ha ha. I think if I did I’d stop doing the comedy festivals and go to poetry festivals. But I don’t think that would work out so well. There are moments, fleeting, in some of the poems where I think there’s something to cling onto, that has some worth over and above the comedic. But really they seem to work out much better in a comedy context. As long as some people are into them, I’m happy.
How do you approach your poem writing? Do you have a specific process?
I usually have a pint in my hand and an empty head and then just write down whatever comes into it. This is why a lot of them don’t go anywhere. But I like that. I like the fact that they’re often inconsequential. I also carry a notebook so if someone does something horseshit I can immortalize them with my pen.
How many notebooks do you usually have on you at any one time?
One. I used to carry more, when I was on stage. I accumulated more and spread them around my body, and drew them out and read from them on stage. Now I don’t do that so much. I prefer writing on the back of pornographic playing cards.
How many poems do you estimate you have written in your whole life?
1400-odd. That’s not an estimate though. I keep hold of them. Unless their too poor to keep hold of. But I keep the bar fairly low, so rarely jettison them. They’re all in a bookcase in my flat, some of them more ashamed of themselves than others.
What’s the best thing about being able to speak Russian?
I can impress the odd Russian waitress. The only problem is my Russian has almost now all gone. I can still say things like my name is and dog and house but beyond that I mainly stare and wince because it’s all disappeared and it’s a tragedy.
Any chance of you and Mark Watson getting together for a game of No More Women while you’re both out here?
Definitely. We do little else.
Do you enjoy your time in Australia? Are there any Australian comedians you enjoy?
I like your version of football a lot and I like cafes and trams so Melbourne works out okay for me. I really like Hannah Gadsby. She was on before me last time so – owing to the geography of backstage/stage – I listened to the last forty minutes of her show every day. It was lucky I liked her, otherwise I would have gone out of my mind. And Tim Minchin. I like Tim Minchin. That barefoot bastard’s got some big moves.
Can you write a poem using the words ‘bon vivant’?
I’m sure I probably could. I’m highly skilled.
What’s your favourite poem that’s no longer in your act?
I went out with a model
But I found her dull
And also she was one of those fatty models, so not much to look at.
What’s next for Tim Key?
I’ll tour my show and then write a new one. I recently went to India so I’ve got some stuff about that I’m enjoying. I’ve just done a radio show in England and I want to do more of that. It’s poetry and it’s working with Tom Basden – two of my favourite things – so I’m gunning for a recommission. Then I’ll write a film and a sitcom and then become a revered social commentator and then die.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I can’t play any musical instruments.
Thanks for your time, Tim. I very much look forward to Masterslut.
Masterslut will be running from the 12th to the 22nd of April. Tickets for Masterslut are available here.