Dusty Slay isn't one to bask in the glow of his past comedic glories. "Each time you see me it should be better than the last," he says. "My plan is to hate every video I put out, because I know I'm better than that now."
The one-time Charlestonian, now Nashville-based, comedian promises that his Holy City fans can expect both new material and improvements to older bits at his upcoming performances as part of the Charleston Comedy Festival shows. "I'm getting to travel around the country a bit, playing different cities," he says. And that time on the road has changed the way he approaches his craft. Now he works methodically, paying attention to the little details. Rather than drastically changing anything about his performance, though, instead he works on refining his characteristic deadpan, drawling act. "I'm the same," he says. "I'm slow delivery. There's nothing high-energy about my set." He laughs, adding, "There's nothing high-energy about my life."
Plenty of other people are taking notice of Slay these days, and it's paying dividends. "I haven't worked in about three months," he says. "I mean, not at a regular job. I've been to Indianapolis and Atlanta. I just got back from Bossier City in Louisiana, where I played a casino."
And as his act gets better, he's finding more high-profile venues showing interest. "I got to work The Punchline," he says, referring to the well-known Atlanta comedy club. "People like Jeff Foxworthy started off at The Punchline."
And he's pursuing television, too. "I auditioned for Last Comic Standing," he says. "Got through the first audition, and they flew me to NYC ... We don't know exactly what's going to happen, but there's still the potential that I could be on in 2015."
There will be two shows with Slay's name on the bill over the course of the festival, on Friday and Saturday nights, so fans will have two chances to catch him perform. On Friday, Slay is emceeing the Stand-up Competition Winners Showcase. "I assume I'll do about 20 minutes at the beginning of the show," he says. "And maybe 10 minutes at the end. To be fair to the guys that are performing, I want to give them their time on stage."
The Saturday show, which is being billed as Dusty Slay and Friends, will feature a much longer set. "I'm not sure who I'll have on there. Some of my Charleston comedy friends, and I might see if I can find some of the other [out-of-town] acts," Slay says. In the end, Slay has fairly humble expectations. "I want them to leave the show and say, 'You know, I'm glad we did that.'"