My Secret Life: Tim Key, poet and comedian, 35


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The Independent Online

My parents are... Carol and Bill. They are both retired. Carol is flourishing, Bill is on a sharp descent towards Meldrewdom. He recently had a letter published in the local paper where he vented his spleen about the wording on signs for cyclists. They continue to be supportive and are delighted when I do any comedy without swearing.

The household I grew up in... was a lot of fun. We had to eat together around a table. My dad made elderberry wine.

When I was a child I wanted to... be a footballer. I was handy when I was eight or nine. Then I started playing for a team when I was 10 and got scared by the bigger boys. As I grew older the bigger boys got bigger and I got more scared. So I started wistfully thinking I might be a journalist.

If I could change one thing about myself...I'd be a bit prettier. Nothing too extensive, just prettier eyes or something.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... Russian. Or I used to be. I lived in Kiev once.

At night I dream of... myself, in various unlikely scenarios.

I wish I'd never worn... For a few years I strode round in a beige leather jacket with my own blood all over the collar and back. It wasn't a great look, to be fair. I looked more thuggish than my personality could back up.

What I see when I look in the mirror... A possible killer. I avoid mirrors where possible.

It's not fashionable but I like... playing scrabble in pubs. You get a lot of condescending comments from groups of girls on the lash. But if I'm laying down BISCUIT on a triple word score then I don't really care to be honest.

My house is... a flat. I've got a nice big wooden table that I write on, eat on and sometimes lean on. My kitchen looks out onto a pub garden so I sometimes stare out hoping to hear some nice chat or see a fight. I've got a bath into which I descend whenever possible.

My favourite work of art... Smeared all over the Berlin Wall. The East Side Gallery blew my mind. Hopeful, poignant and jubilant.

Movie heaven... Nuts in May.

My secret crush is... Steffi Graf. I've just finished reading Andre Agassi's autobiography. He's got the right idea.

My real-life villains... None.

The last time I cried... My cousin got married and his wife did a speech that had me welling up. I had to curve my head out of the way so my dad didn't see my tears.

My five-year plan... I think I'd like to write a film, snare a wife and learn how to cook. I've noticed that I've cornered myself slightly by half becoming a poet and I yearn to produce something more substantial; and I am unmarried and can only cook lasagne, toast, fish pie and combinations of these three things.

What's the point? Not sure. Probably something to do with contentment?

My life in six words... Lots of baths. Lots of poetry.

A life in brief

Tim Key was born in Cambridge in 1976 and studied Russian at Sheffield University. He later joined Cambridge Footlights, by pretending he was studying a PhD. His film The One and Only Herb McGwyer Plays Wallis Island was Bafta-nominated. In 2009, he won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for a show mixing stand-up, poetry and film. Key has published three books, released a record, and appeared in Life's Too Short and One Day. His show Masterslut is currently at the Soho Theatre. He lives in London