‘If I was like that in real life I’d get punched in the face a lot.’

Tim Key
Tim Key

Renaissance man Tim Key is a published poet, acclaimed comic actor and innovative stand-up. Is there anything he can’t do? Enjoy an amorous adventure which doesn’t end in failure, he tells BARRY FREEMAN

The rise of Tim Key has been swift and irresistable. Since winning the 2009 Edinburgh Comedy Award he has toured critically acclaimed comedy shows, published three volumes of poetry (and more) and become Sidekick (Simon) to one of British comedy’s greatest ever characters (Aha!)

This month (Sunday, September 28) Tim brings his latest show, Single White Slut, to the Dukes in Lancaster, a city he has played before.

Tim, Lancaster is arguably the jewel in Lancashire’s conurbationary crown. What do you like about the city?

I love Lancaster!

Actually my favourite thing would probably be the theatre. It was my favourite date on my last tour. Very intimate and with a warm, discerning bunch of faces wrapped around me. It was a lot of fun.

Have you had chance to wander the city? Lancaster is a great place to wander, full of nooks, crannies, ginnels and oddballs. What inspires you more, people or places?

I have. We got there early last time and I spent the day doing exactly that, but I don’t think I went to the essential places.

I went to a very nice bike shop, then I bought a metre of Jaffa Cakes and sat on some grass next to an old building.

I definitely took in some crannies. In terms of the people/places conundrum, I think it’s people. I’m an eavesdropper. Without people I’d have nothing.

You’re a gifted comic actor, writer, poet, stand-up – what are you first and foremost? Or in what order? Did one thing lead to another? Which comes most naturally?

I think I’m probably a comedian, but I think I use all of that stuff.

When you piece them all together I just about have a career. I’m scared to focus on one. Having all that lot floating about means I can afford to be terrible at a few of them for a bit, and I could muddle through with what’s left.

Certainly the least stressful is the poetry. That’s something I do for fun. Actual writing, for example, is a bit more difficult, and therefore stressful.

Single White Slut covers your amorous adventures. Can the audience expect titillation?

I will definitely be trying to titillate the audience extensively. But my amorous adventures always end in failure. If they ended in triumph, my show would be absolutely terrible.

So I just talk about adventures that nearly end well, but that ultimately fall apart.

Your approach to stand up is unique. Quite furtive yet tragic, a bit creepy. Who is that person? Is it you?

Christ no. I quite like the guy though. He’s more confident than I am, and probably more resilient. If I was like that in real life though, I would be punched in the face a lot.

Slut in the Hut. Slutcracker. Masterslut. Single White Slut. You don’t strike me as a slut. What’s with all the Sluts?

Yup, good point. What happened was, I did a show in 2007 in a little venue in Edinburgh called The Hut. I decided to call it The Slut In The Hut, in the end.

It fitted in (a bit awkwardly) with the show, and Slut rhymed with Hut which seemed like a good idea. Then I called the next one The Slutcracker and that was it. Open-season. I feel trapped!

You now appear to be bearded, although if you have shaved recently forgive me. Can you explain the resurgence of beards, particularly the big beards?

Mm. Yes, I noticed that. In the end I flipped and hacked it off. Now I have a small beard. I don’t know how it got that big. It just creeps up on you.

Iannucci, Coogan, Brooker, half the League of Gentlemen – is fair to say you have been sought out to work in exalted company. Have you ever caught yourself thinking ‘Blimey’, and why?

Yes. I think ‘Blimey’ a lot. I guess my biggest ‘Blimey’ is working with Coogan. He’s a hero of mine, and those moments in that sealed-off radio studio are pretty difficult to process. I’m a lucky boy.

What’s next for Tim Key?

Radio! I’m writing a new series of my radio show. It’s a late night poetry programme with Tom Basden, and I love doing it. Largely because it’s with Tom Basden.