Poetry, says Tim Key, is a bit like sex. In both cases, you never want to hear yourself described as "deliberately bad". But of course the poetry in Slutcracker, Key's Edinburgh winning show, is not just bad, it's meta-bad, as he breaks off mid-line to explain the thought behind the stanza or point out a seam of non-existent depth we've missed. It's poetry eating itself and no-one does it better.
There's not just dire sixth-form poetry on offer here though. Key conducts his way through a performance - and this is a theatrical performance rather than an hour of full-on stand-up - that includes tales of the generational divide, surrealist short films and plenty of backchat with his sound man, Fletch. He's not in the dead-eyed mode you might have seen him in on Screenwipe; he's twinkly-eyed and relaxed, holding the room with millisecond-perfect timing (which is, let's face it, the entire bedrock of his act) and the confidence, not arrogance, of a man who knows exactly what he's doing.
The run at the Soho Theatre's rapidly selling out but if you haven't got in there fast enough, Slutcracker moves on to the Arts Theatre for a couple of weeks in March. We'd recommend it simply to find out how he gets onto the fridge (you really have to be there), but for a comically-tinged ambient experience you can't go far wrong.
Tim Key, The Slutcracker, at the Soho Theatre, Dean Street W1, to 20th February (not 14th) 9.45pm, £10-£17.50 / Arts Theatre, Great Newport Street, 3rd-6th and 10th-13th March 9.30pm, £15. Tim Key is also in Party at the Arts Theatre, 1st-13th March.