Comedy Preview + Interview: Tim Key

You’ve got two ways of seeing 2009 Edinburgh winner Tim Key over the next couple of weeks: he’s bringing this year’s Edinburgh show, Masterslut, to the Soho Theatre for a month-long run, and also with Tom Basden for their Freeze! double act/show/explosion that has been raved about (as a bonus they’re both on Mark Watson’s Live Address to the Nation on Radio 4).

Freeze! is halfway through a compass points tour of the capital (just west and central left now, sorry) so we thought we’d worm our way into his head and pluck out a few thoughts before he has to dash off to keep his busy schedule.

Your solo shows have contained poetry, films and indoor parkour. Did you make a conscious decision to create something ‘different’ or is it just what you like to do?
I need my shows to have a lot of stuff going on. All the elements are completely necessary. If there was less going on people would get bored and leave. If I was a brilliant stand-up I guess I’d keep it simpler.

You didn’t go back to Edinburgh the year after winning. Were you luxuriating in the glory?
Yes. I spent a year wandering around London with my top off, swigging champagne from the bottle, living off the prize money and yelling.

What’s the obsession with sluts? Are you particularly slutty?
No, not too bad. I wear a lot of v-necks, if that counts. I use the word SLUT in my showtitles because I am trying to turn myself into a brand.

What can we expect to see at Freeze!?
Freeze is my favourite thing at the moment. I do it with my most handsome friend, Tom Basden. It’s a very loose double act involving his music, my poetry and various bits of nonsense we’ve written. It’s a weird thing. It rarely changes in terms of its structures etc but it changes a lot each time. There’s a lot of lager on stage and a lot of license to try new things. We don’t know what each other are going to do so the audience don’t really have a hope. Primarily, we have a dance which is a whole load of fun.

What prompted the compass points tour?
We decided we wanted to tour but had almost no time owing to daytime commitments. Our promoter offered us less and less ambitious schedules. This was his final role of the dice. It’s been nice though. Local people come. We’re helping to bring communities back together.

You seem to have done a bit of everything: solo shows, sketches, quizmaster, published poet, acting. What are the delights (and drawbacks) of having so much going on?
There are delights to be had. When you feel you’re horseshit at doing something it’s usually fine because it’ll come to an end soon and you’ll be doing something different. I’ve been writing since Edinburgh which has been fun, but now I’m ready to get back on stage and scratch that itch. The only drawback is that I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.

If you could only visit three areas of London for the rest of your life, which would they be?
Hampstead Heath, The Regent’s Canal and Brick Lane.

Do you have a favourite poem about London?
William Blake’s London is always good for a giggle.

Have you ever been sick on the tube?
No. I always try and get all that sort of stuff done before I get on.

Freeze! is at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill on 29th November, 7.30pm, £10, and the Duke of York’s Theatre on St Martin’s Lane on 10th December, 11.59pm, £12. Masterslut runs 8th December-7th January at the Soho Theatre, 9.30pm, £10.

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