Tim Key dispels Wikipedia myths
Countering the many positive aspects to this digital age, there are the odd downsides which spoil it for everyone. When Tim Key recently perused his Wikipedia page, he was aghast to see some glaring errors. So, for the record, he will not be collaborating with Banksy and RZA on a new rap version of Wagner’s Parsifal and it’s safe to assume that the ITV sitcom he is reputed to be starring in about an SAS officer suffering post-traumatic stress disorder and the plans of NASA to rocket some of his poems to Mars in a ‘culture capsule’ are quite probably a little off the mark. ‘I’ve got a slight problem with that page because there’s someone who tinkers with it. I don’t think it’s one of my friends, I don’t think its vindictive, it’s someone well-meaning and just having a bit of fun, but there’s a swathe of it that’s not true. Some are obvious falsehoods while others make you wonder; when there’s stuff in there that’s not quite true, you start to question everything.’
What is undoubtedly true is that 2009 has seen a turning point in Key’s career. In August he starred in Tom Basden’s very funny play, Party, about a bunch of clueless political campaigners, while his own show, The Slutcracker beat off competition from Russell Kane and Jon Richardson to win the Edinburgh Comedy Award. A new BBC4 series of We Need Answers (the game show he appears in alongside Mark Watson and Alex Horne) is underway and he is frantically writing the Christmas special for his Radio 4 comedy, All Bar Luke. And he has just published Instructions, Guidelines, Tutelage, Suggestions, Other Suggestions and Examples Etc, a comic book which relies as much on the design from Ryan Ras as it does on Key’s wildly inventive and highly hilarious writing brain.
‘It’s much like the (Edinburgh) show really, where I waddle off into a café and write freely and stupidly for an hour and file that away. Gradually over a year it all slowly forms into this desperate pit of material which I then try to crowbar into a beautifully designed book.’ So, within we get an inventory of ‘What’s Been Inside Anne’s Mouth Just Recently’, ‘Snippets from a Conversation Between an 18-Year-Old Plumber and a Vicar’ and ‘Some Thoughts on the Consequences of Banning Stoves’. It has the urbane surrealism of Woody Allen’s writing in his 70s books such as Without Feathers and Getting Even though Key cites Chris Morris, Armando Iannucci, Tony Hancock and Blackadder among his formative influences.
Heading off to Sydney in January for a fortnight of Party, Key is determined to return to Edinburgh next August. But will he do as so many others have in the past and show up as the holder of the biggest prize in comedy to simply do a couple of dates at a bigger venue? ‘We’re looking at the Castle at the moment,’ he jests. ‘We usually decide in about January and see where I am and if I have half an hour of new stuff and a vague idea of how that could work in a show. I really, really want to go because I just love doing it, but there’s no point in going up with something half-cooked.’
Instructions, Guidelines, Tutelage … is out now published by Invisible Dot.