Nashville comic Dusty Slay didn’t always have it easy. Growing up in Opelika, Ala., Slay split his time between a farm and a trailer park. You won’t hear him complain about it much though –Slay would rather just make you laugh.
Slay, who will be performing at The Station December, says he was “born to be a comic…or a meth addict.” He’s shared the stage with Jeffrey Ross, Michael Ian Black, Josh Blue and Rob Schneider to name a few.
Slay’s comedic style is smooth, Southern and simple. His jokes make for easy-listening that don’t require a lot of thinking. He’s literal and amusing in a way that isn’t often seen in younger comics today.
Slay, 32, was raised mainly by his mother in a trailer park but also spent time at his father’s farm he owned.
“You get to see things from both sides of the track, so to speak,” he sid. “It’s my perspective in life, and on stage. I see things from both sides and I have a lot of jokes about both.”
Slay uses his upbringing in the South as an inspiration for material as opposed to an excuse for sympathy.
“I grew up and spent most of my time with my mom in the trailer park, but we were really happy. It wasn’t like a sad poor. It’s just kind of helped me be a ‘go with the flow kind of person’…You start talking about trailer parks. It makes people sad. People start to feel sorry for me. That’s not what I’m trying to do,” Slay said. “It more just influences me.”
As interesting as his youth was, Slay doesn’t rely on it as his only source of humor. His material ranges from the oddities of being a server to insults about his beard.
Slay’s personal experiences give him a unique Southern angle nearly any audience member can enjoy. He’s toured all over the country and has found his style is relatable nationwide.
“[My style] goes well outside of the South because some of my jokes are stereotypical Southern things and people love that. I was just in New York and they loved the Southern jokes,” Slay commented.
Surprisingly, Slay admits the more rural Southern towns he tours are harder on his material than the average audience.
“Sometimes I think the really Southern towns like Johnson City, [Tennessee] didn’t really quite appreciate my jokes. I think they thought I was making fun of them. [I’m] just making fun of me,” Slay joked. “Just making fun of me, guys!”
Slay got his start as a comic in 2004 in Charleston South Carolina. Slay and a group of his peers all started doing improv together and slowly transitioned to stand up. He was there for over 10 years before settling in his current town.
“We had a beautiful thing going [in Charleston] for awhile. We had this great creative stand up comedy scene,” Slay explained. “Then, one by one people moved to New York and LA and Chicago…it’s just not the same. But now since moving to Nashville, I’m able to jump right in there and help these guys make it grow. Nashville is a fresh up and coming comedy scene. I love what Nashville’s doing.”
Slay chose Nashville, as opposed to New York or LA, out of practicality.
“I think it’s money, mainly,” Slay leveled. “In New York, your apartment is $1,000 minimum and [comics] are waiting tables all the time and hustling open mics. People can make it work like that but for me, I wanted to take a different approach.”
“What I’d like to do is be a professional working comic. I would much rather be a comic that just only does comedy and travels the country, rather than being famous. Now, that being said, if someone said ‘Hey, you’re gonna be famous.’ I’d be like: ‘Great,’” Slay admitted.
And fame might not be too distant for Dusty Slay. Recently, he was flown to New York City for a second audition for the next season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing.
But acclamation doesn’t seem to be Slay’s main motivation. He just wants the audience to have a good time.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, I think you’d appreciate the show,” Slay said. “I don’t do anything political, religious, or any social commentary. It’s all just jokes. I’m not trying to tell you anything. I don’t have a message. I don’t want you to leave smarter than when you got there. I just want people to come in, laugh and have a good time.”