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No Tim Like The Present
Tim Key has won one of most of the prestigious awards in comedy and has a slew of high profile admirers. But is he funny ‘ha ha’ or funny ‘peculiar’? Sometimes he’s not sure himself.
Anne Sexton, 31 Mar 2010
Tim Key is a funny man. As the recipient of last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award (formerly the Perrier), he has been officially recognised as funny ha ha, but he might just be a little funny peculiar too.
“What is that?” he asks looking perplexed as we sit down to chat.
The ‘that’ in question is a dictaphone. Odd, especially since he’s been fielding questions from hacks all morning.
“You came all the way to London to talk to me?” he beams. “I would have been happy to come to Ireland.”
A good thing he feels that way – Key will be visiting our shores to take part in the Carlsberg Cat Laughs Comedy Festival this June. Alongside comedians such as David O’Doherty, he will be performing twenty-minute slots from his award-winning solo poetry show ‘The Slutcracker’. “I’ll be doing the poems,” he says, “for better or for worse.”
Poetry yes, but not as you know it. Key’s ‘tiny poems’ cover a range of topics from the sublime to the ridiculous – politics; the Queen’s sex life; bankers; jealousy – and have been collected into a book, the somewhat wordily titled 25 Poems, 3 Recipes and 32 Other Suggestions (An Inventory).
Key’s comedy career began when he finished university, returned home to Cambridge and blagged his way into the famous Footlights Dramatic Club in 2001.
“I was trying to work out what to do next, and my parents were trying to work out what they thought I should do next – they were not exactly the same things really! Parents never sit you down and say: ‘I think you need to get into sketch comedy.’ It took about five years for my mum to stop using the phrase ‘law conversion’. I auditioned and the assumption was that I was a student. I didn’t disabuse them of the notion. If anything I abused them! For several months! I suppose there was an element of deceit.”
Deceit or not, Footlights kept him on and Key enjoyed some early success with the troupe. Their 2001 show, ‘Far Too Happy’, was nominated for a Perrier for the best newcomer, after which Key got an agent and hot-footed it down to London to make his mark.