Stand Up & Deliver: Being Yourself On Purpose
Photo: Magee Miller
Houston has a storied past when it comes to stand-up comedy. At one point we had eleven comedy clubs (…then six…and now two). When there were six clubs, Houston had a renaissance of new comics, many of whom are still touring the world doing comedy today. One of those comics is the free-spirited and “as real as it gets” Slim Bloodworth. A professional comic who might be the most approachable person in town, Slim has spent a good portion of her career performing around the world, and she’s a great example of natural talent. Just as funny offstage as on, Slim granted FPH a moment of her time while she prepared for a European tour.
FPH: You were born in Louisiana, but you’re a native Texan? How long have you been doing stand-up?
SB: I was born in Louisiana and my dad is from Louisiana, so I spent all of my summers there, but the rest of the time I was raised here. I’m a Texan, through and through, and I’ve been a professional comic for sixteen years.
FPH: You got started at Houston’s famed The Laff Stop. Does the Houston comedy scene feel better or worse than when you started? Who was in your comedy class?
SB: Well, when I got started there were six clubs; this was in the nineties, around the time when that big comedy boom from the eighties was coming to an end. Because of the way that Houston is laid out, each of those six clubs had a different demographic, so if a joke worked in all six, it was worth taking on the road. Back then, you’d have to tailor your set to what each club owner liked style-wise, which helped you hone your craft. But it’s not better now or then, it’s just different. We didn’t have the overexposure of the internet, but there’s still plenty of places to get stage time now. Kristen Lindner, Bob Biggerstaff, Danny Rios, and Sean Rouse were in my class when I started.
FPH: You have a very free-spirited form of delivery that looks like it’s second nature for you. Is it a natural way of performing, or was it a skill that you developed over time?
SB: Until you’re comfortable with yourself, any new comic will try to add structure to themselves and their act. I come across comfortable, because that’s who I am already. Danny Martinez once told me, “Comedy is being yourself on purpose.” I’m just myself when I’m onstage, which is someone who’s easygoing and laid back. That’s why I can tease and be mean sometimes, because the audience knows me and they get that I’m joking.
FPH: Your style reminds me of how “real” Roseanne was on stage. She recently said about performing again, “I don’t know if people want to hear what I have to say, and if they do, they couldn’t handle it once I start going.” Do you feel like people can’t handle how real you get onstage sometimes?
SB: I don’t care. I can’t handle how real I get sometimes, which is why I’ll pull back sometimes. A joke might not be where I want it yet, so I pull back. A good example would be talking about religion in the Bible Belt. Sometimes, though, I drop a couple of taboo topic based jokes to see if the audience will bite. If they take the bait and I feel them turn on me, then I love the challenge of getting them back on my side.
FPH: Who are your favorite comics of the past and present?
SB: From the past: Flip Wilson, Moms Mabley, and Minnie Pearl. Current stand-ups: Tom Rhodes, Eddie Izzard, and Paul Mooney. If I can add locals, locally I like Ashton Womack.
FPH: You’ve been a touring headliner for a little over a decade; will we see an album sometime in the near future?
SB: The reason that there hasn’t been one is that I’m debating between doing an album or a DVD. So much of my act is my facial expressions, and I want that to come across; which I don’t think it will on an album. After that, it’s just deciding what material I want to burn and what I don’t; but I think I’ve settled on a DVD in the future.
FPH: You’ve performed everywhere from tiny towns to performing for the troops in Iraq; do you ever have to change your act based on where you’re performing, or is it always full steam ahead?
SB: I always try to go full steam, but you just adjust your act depending on the audience. If you have enough material, then it should always be full steam ahead; and dependent on what you will and will not do material wise.
FPH: I heard that you went to college in Utah? Was that the most repressive place to attend school, or are we all way off on what we think about Utah?
SB: I have no nice words about Utah, though I miss friends from there. But, unless they leave that place…I won’t even take a plane over that state. What you think about Utah being polarizing is 100% true.
FPH: What’s the worst place you’ve ever performed?
SB: Whenever I play a small town, I pick up a local paper because you can learn a lot about where you’re at from those papers. I used to play three small towns in West Virginia, so I grabbed a local paper in one of the three, and it was written on a third grade level. I wrote the paper’s editor to address it, and he said that it was done on purpose because the majority of the town reads on a third grade level. I don’t have enough dick jokes to entertain an audience like that, so I haven’t played that state since.
FPH: What’s your definition of a successful comedy career?
SB: Being able to live comfortably by doing solely what I love, just living off of my creativity. Whether it be stand-up, or writing, or whatever.
You can learn a lot about comedy from talking to those who live it everyday, and Bloodworth is full of insight from the world of stand-up. While she gets closer to living off of her creativity, you can catch her at a mic in town when she returns from a tour in Europe. In the last half of March, she’ll be touring throughout London, Ireland, Belgium, Scotland, and France.