Slim interview

Slim. Copyright: David Geli

As he prepares for The Jungle Comedy Lock-In, we talk to Slim about his three plus decades in stand-up comedy...

Hi Slim. How did you get started in comedy?

I started out in stand-up in 1993. I didn't really think about being a comedian but my friend who was a comedian, Curtis Walker, encouraged me to go on stage at the Hackney Empire. So I did, and I've never looked back!

Did you have another career goal in mind back in 93, if Curtis hadn't launched you into stand-up?

Strange enough, I wanted to be an electrician. At first I wanted to be a fireman, but I thought about it deeply and thought to myself 'no one really wants to see a skinny guy just under six foot at their window if their house was on fire'. So I would have been an electrician...

Ha ha. Have you observed any big changes on the live comedy circuit over the last couple of decades?

Yes, there's been changes, good and bad in my opinion.

Most noticeably would be the internet. The introduction of the internet and social media, to be precise. We've got a lot of comedians coming through that.

The live comedy circuit is slowly changing. It's becoming more diverse. You can go into most comedy clubs and see a good mix of cultures that are stand-up comedians entertaining the crowd.

So, yeah, I think those are some of the biggest changes: the diversity, and also the internet.

You've achieved a lot of milestones in your career. Which ones are you most proud of?

I think I'm proud of all the milestones. From the very first time I stepped on stage, to having my first stand-up comedy show at the Catford Broadway Theatre, to performing live on stage at the Hollywood Comedy Store. I was the first Black British comedian to do this gig at The Store... that was really a really major milestone. And doing army bases. Most of my career has had milestones that I've enjoyed. So you can take your pick out of those.

1Xtra's Comedy Gala has just been released on iPlayer. How was that gig? It's quite a celebration of both the established names and new voices...

1Xtra's Comedy Gala. Credit: Tricia Yourkevich

Yeah, that was a really, really good show. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And yeah, you're right, it's a celebration of the new comics coming through. You've got the people like Ola Labib, Kyrah Gray, Gbemi Oladipo and other such delights. And obviously established people like myself, Kane Brown and Eddie Kadi too... so, yeah, the gig was absolutely fantastic.

Eddie Kadi and Ray Böhm really thought about the line-up and featured established comics and the new up-and-coming comics. Everybody had a great set.

Hackney Empire is like my second home, you know what I mean? It's my first home when it comes on to comedy!

Any other standout sets?

Most of these big shows I do, I always turn up. As you know, I've done Mo Gilligan & Friends at the O2. That was a major show. I've also done the Palladium for my own one man show. Hopefully I'll continue to churn them out for you guys!

In the past, the black circuit has sometimes seemed somewhat separate from the rest of the circuit, with acts not crossing over either way. But that looks to be changing...?

The mainstream - what we class as the white comedy circuit - has seen more and more people of colour doing their sets in these mainstream clubs now. So, as I touched upon earlier, the diversity has become much greater in mainstream clubs.

There's still a lack of white comics coming over to the black circuit, but I'm not sure why that is. I'm not sure if they feel they wouldn't be able to entertain the audience? Maybe they don't know if they'd understand the material? But we have got a few white comics doing both the mainstream and the black comedy circuit. People like Jay Handley who's a new up-and-coming white comic doing both circuits.

So I think things are changing...

The Jungle Comedy Lock-In. Slim

You're going to be headlining The Jungle Comedy Lock-In this Friday and Saturday [5th and 6th April 2024]. Tell us about those shows.

Okay, so The Jungle Comedy Lock-In is literally a after show after the main show, [West End musical] The Choir Of Man.

We've got a live pub on the actual stage where people will be able to get a drink. Not during the show though! During the interval, they'll be able to come up on the stage and take pictures of the scenery and set.

So it's basically like a lock in the end of a night in a pub. It's that atmosphere, that vibes. We've got some great comedians on the line-up. I will be headlining. So yeah, I think that if you're not doing nothing and you're in the West End right next to Leicester Square Station come and have a laugh.

You must be looking forward to performing on The Choir of Man's set. Given it's not in a dingy basement, will you be changing your performance in any way, or can audiences still expect a club set from you?

Yeah, it's not the normal comedy club backdrop. Literally. There is a bar on stage, you know, the backdrop is like the Queen Vic basically.

I usually go with the flow, you know, the actual atmosphere and the building. But I will come with planned material, no doubt. You've always got to come prepared. But I'm sure it's going to be a different kind of comedy night altogether. I'm looking forward to it!


The Choir of Man involves a fair bit of singing. Will you be tempted to carry on that?

My singing voice is terrible. I don't even have a shower singing voice. So I won't be carrying on the narrative of that! I'll just be the guy in the pub busting the jokes.

Has your post show routine changed over the years? Do you head home early these days, or is the social side still important?

It's a bit of both. When it's needed, I will network, as they say. But, on the whole, these days you just go straight home. At the age of 52, I'm past those regular clubbing days. I always said when I was younger, I weren't going to be that old man in a club full of young people at the bar. Do you remember that, with the old medallion and hairy chest and everyone saying 'what's he doing here?'. So no, I go straight home with my cash.

Published: Thursday 4th April 2024

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