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Tim Key - The Slutcracker
Published on Friday, 14 August 2009

Of all of the Festival's sell-out shows, Tim Key's is one which I would be happy to lose a limb to see. With a huge Edinburgh following, and a burgeoning TV and radio career, Key is clearly one of the UK's new big comedy acts, and his show certainly doesn't disappoint. His iconic, "deliberately bad" comic poetry has lost none of its pizzazz and punch, and his showmanship is something to behold.

Tim Key's comedy is based around his poetry, a strange collection of short comic pieces that cover themes from all echelons of life - normally so absurd and strange that one cannot help but laugh at the situations described. These are, bar none, exceptional little pieces of comedy, and show off Key's main skill: his ability to write short gags in his own special style, kept together by Key's own brand of audience interaction.

I can only describe Key’s act as a masterclass in how to relate your pieces to a group. The audience was involved in his act from the beginning, be it as answerers of questions or holders of beer. The end of the show especially features a gag where audience interaction is crucial, and every single person in the crowd took part in the surprisingly physical finale. With everyone allowing themselves to be dragged along for the ride, the whole audience became part of a brilliantly self-referential show.

My sole issue is that he seems a little bit of a one-trick pony. His poetry shtick is often absolutely brilliant, but, at an hour and a quarter, there was probably too much of it and, after a while, it can start to get a little repetitive. It is broken up nicely, but - towards the end - every time he scrabbled in his pocket for a book, I found myself hoping he would move on to the next gag.

Key is, despite these criticisms, an excellent performer, and well on track to becoming an Edinburgh institution. The show is a collection of laugh-out-loud moments, and he is a charming, friendly, and eccentric performer, just the right mixture of feckless and talented. For some entirely original and ground-breaking comedy. definitely try to snare a ticket for Key.

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