Dusty Slay likes to say that he was raised in Alabama, but became a man in Charleston. After two years touring on the road and fresh off a guest spot on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, the two-time winner of the Charleston Comedy Fest Stand-Up Competition finds himself back in the Holy City. And while Charleston has definitely changed since the comedian relocated to Nashville, Slay has gone through quite a bit of changes himself.
"I spent 10 years there. I love it. I became an alcoholic and sober in Charleston," Slay says. "Cause it's so fun to drink in Charleston. The most fun is to drink in the daytime during the summer. And that can create a problem."
Anyone who's heard Slay's stand-up already knows a good bit about his formative years growing up in Alabama. A child of divorce, Slay shared a trailer with his mother until the age of 14 when they moved out. A few years later, Slay found himself buying back his childhood home.
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Recounting the more absurd aspects of his childhood, Slay's comedy manages to remain relatable without becoming pandering. Slay jokes that before moving to Charleston, he and his friend passed the time by drinking and shooting each other with BB guns. Making his way out of the trailer park, Slay recalls working at Hyman's Seafood, standing at the second-floor window and looking out onto a new city. It's this same sense of awe and uncertainty that Slay felt walking through Kimmel's studio, looking at the photos of celebrities that line the walls. While standing in front of a nationwide audience would prove intimidating for anybody, Slay couldn't miss an opportunity to promote his upcoming show at the Charleston Comedy Festival.
"When I got the option on Jimmy Kimmel to give a plug for a show that I had coming up, I had a lot of shows in January that I could have plugged, but how perfect is it that Theatre 99 has already asked me to be a part of the Comedy Festival," he says. "How great would it be to give a plug to my old home city? I actually had to push for it a bit. They want big clubs. They want to say 'Dusty Slay headlining the Improv' or whatever. But I really pushed for Charleston, and they were like 'OK, let's do it.'"
Returning to Charleston, Slay looks forward to sharing a few old drinking stories with his friends who know a different man than the people in Nashville. As he continues to develop new material, Slay looks to one day tap into his time on his father's farm and the eight years he spent selling pesticides. Like any good artist, Slay continues to improve his act and improve himself as a person. And who knows, maybe he can get some new material out of it.
"For sure there is a different me that exists now. I mean, I haven't drank in almost six years. The me that exists now versus drinking Dusty is a whole different thing. I would love to make some comparisons there," Slay says. "I got a few more drinking jokes lately. Charleston loves drinking and restaurant jokes. Maybe I can tap into that. I always think that I'm going to do some sentimental thing on stage when I'm in Charleston, but then when I'm in the moment, I'm just like 'Nay, I'm just going to do the jokes.'"