Tim Key has been a ThreeWeeks favourite for years. So we were all delighted that this week’s Guest Editor Camille O’ Sullivan decided to interview him for us. Yay.
CO’S: I was delighted to see you return to Edinburgh. I discovered that on the cover of The List, and then I saw that poster. I’m loving the poster, subtle, enigmatic, strange… not a forced smile in sight (it’s an almost anti Edinburgh image). But what is that demonic black eyes thing all about?
TK: The plan was to make me look as sexy as possible and it ended up not working out that way. I don’t look as sexy as my manager suggested I would. It’s a disaster. Also, my mum came up and saw the poster and told me off.
CO’S: Which brings me to the title of the show title ‘Masterslut’… explain …?
TK: I did a show in 2007 called The Slut In The Hut. That was because I was in The Pleasance Hut, and Slut rhymed with Hut. In 2009 I called my show The Slutcracker, which was a play on words, mixing Slut into Nutcracker. Now I have painted myself into a corner branding-wise. Again, my mum is struggling with it.
CO’S: After your brilliant success here and everywhere, is there more pressure when you return?
TK: I felt the pressure in the first week. It’s a pretty fiddly show and it took a few goes to make it work. I guess there’s a bit more expectation than usual but to be honest I always feel complete and utter horror in the first week of Edinburgh. It kills me. I can barely walk or eat. I look ill and keep having to stop and lean against shops or trees. Once the show started to find its feet the pressure dissipated. Now I am enjoying doing it.
CO’S: I’m close to horizontal from this marathon run, how have you been coping with the madness?
TK: Baths. Long, hot baths. And I have a bit of fish every week.
CO’S: Do you think Edinburgh audiences differ to others?
TK: I don’t think so. I took my show on tour last year for the first time and expected it to be a little different everywhere I went. It really wasn’t. Edinburgh, Lancaster, Brighton. It’s all the same. If you do the show right, it should end up okay. Don’t get me wrong though, I love Edinburgh audiences. They’re incredibly beautiful and intelligent people.
CO’S: How do you prepare for your shows?
TK: I try and be at home for a couple of hours before my show. I sort out all my poems and put them where I want them in my suit. Then I have a long bath and listen to the radio. Usually Test Match Special, but if it happens to be Robbie Savage then I’ll go with that. I’ll then eat some mince or biscuits and walk across the meadows. I live half an hour away and it is perfect. I can clear my head, angle my umbrella into the rain and keep healthy as I approach the arena.
CO’S: Are you inspired by music? Who is your favourite artist? (Sorry I would hate that question myself, but I can see why they ask it!)
TK: I am REALLY into a band called Leningrad. They’re a Russian ska band and I can’t be without them. I always have them playing as the audience are coming in and there are little nods to them in my show. My last show featured an artist called Ishtar. I couldn’t have done that show without her. She lifted me and my show every night. I owe her.
CO’S: Is there a song that sums up your current show?
TK: There isn’t one song that sums it up but I am enjoying some of the classical music I use. I used to really like one bit of music by Haydn when I was little. It reminds me of my dad making elderberry wine. Now I have that in my show. It makes me feel nostalgic when it comes on, which suits the show.
CO’S: I hear you released an album of music and poetry recently – sounds great, tell me a bit about that.
TK: My management and I decided to make an album and they decided it should be on vinyl (the obsolete format) and should be done in collaboration with a string quartet on a boat. It was a fragile project that felt like it would collapse several times but somehow didn’t. I’m planning on buying a record player so I can listen to it and drink tea. It’s available on CD now, too. But I know I need to front up and take the lead and listen to it on vinyl.
CO’S: What about the poetry – what poets inspire you?
TK: I’m not so into poetry. I like John Hegley, and Shakespeare had his moments. I also really like the poem about the plums by William Carlos something or something Carlos Williams. That one’s brilliant. I’m not sure it’s Williams, but it’s definitely Carlos.
CO’S: Who do you want to see here at the Fringe? Seen any good shows?
TK: I always love Colin Hoult and I haven’t seen his show yet. I also need to see Nick Helm. I saw Andy Zaltzman the other day. I’ve never seen a whole hour of his, which is ridiculous. His show was great. Proof again that his is a better comedian than he is a footballer by a staggeringly long way. Alex Horne’s show is obviously ideal. And Sheeps are good. Very good.
CO’S: What’s the best show you have seen?
TK: This year: Sheeps.
CO’S: Where do you get your suits?
TK: Marks & Spencer. They cost fifty quid and are machine washable and can go in a tumble drier. On the flipside, they look awful.
CO’S: Beer or wine on stage?
TK: Beer for me, every time. Reinvigorating, refreshing, restorative. Wine sends me to sleep, and there are bits in my show when I just simply need to be awake.
CO’S: What’s the most impressive heckle you’ve heard? And what was the best heckle reply?
I have a bath in my show and someone started going at me pretty hard about the water temperature. I put her straight. The temperature of a poet’s bath water is his business and his alone.
CO’S: Ask yourself a question you would have liked to be asked! (Sorry, I’m new to this!)
TK: “Do you remember the first time you met Camille O’Sullivan?” Yes, I saw her on stage in Edinburgh in 2009 and melted. I pursued her afterwards and touched her hand. These things stay with you.
Tim Key’s show ‘Masterslut’ was performed at the Pleasance Dome during Fringe 2011.