With his self described “dry, country comedy,” Alabama-born comedian Dusty Slay brought the laughs to Boulder Friday at the Dairy Arts Center. In an interview with the CU Independent prior to his show, Slay said that the goal of his comedy is to “make people feel good” no matter what people are going through.
On Friday, Slay joked about the less glamorous things in life, including old, dirty mattresses, Goodwill, sending regrettable drunk texts, doing drugs and working minimum wage jobs.
Before his time in the spotlight, Slay was preceded by Fort Collins comedian David Rodriguez, who sauntered on stage, warming up the audience with his long, animated jokes.
Ever since Rodriguez won the Denver Comedy Works’ New Faces Competition in 2015, he has been active in the comedy scene with appearances on NPR and comedy festivals, including Bird City in Phoenix, Arizona, and CloudTop in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He riffed on the same topic for long stretches, mostly focusing on travel mishaps and being a father. His jokes were often not inherently funny, such as his bit about a disgruntled lady at the airport, who was upset about their plane delay. However, Rodriguez’s wide-eyed delivery, excited smile and exaggerated impressions kept the audience engaged and laughing.
Slay’s style contrasted greatly with Rodriguez. His jokes were shorter than Rodriguez’s rambling stories, although not short enough to be one-liners. He set up a normal story for a few moments, then brought in an unexpectedly hilarious ending, such as how he was visiting his grandmother’s house when he accidentally saw her naked. He reused many of his old jokes from the Tonight Show and Comedy Central, including his three for $5 flea market joke, two-week notice joke and power blackout joke. Slay stayed true to his country roots, especially in his passionate line by line breakdown of the country song “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere” by Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet. He also worked new material, including a hotel elevator joke about a confused guest who didn’t understand how to count floors.
Slay’s onstage presence was a mixture of confident and anxious. He slouched slightly, almost hiding under his large, white hat, yet he exuded confidence when telling his jokes. His fidgeting was endearing, rather than distracting. He followed a cyclical pattern, adjusting his hat, belt and glasses repeatedly, never staying still. He used his nervous half-wave after most jokes, often interjecting his signature comment “we’re having a good time” to fill any awkward silence.
Despite his different background growing up in Alabama, his down-to-earth style captured the Boulder audience, who laughed raucously throughout the set. This is his greatest charm – his ability to make the mundane, unglamorous aspects of life funny. Everything in life is fair game for a joke. Slay showed the audience that while life can be hard, the weird, small moments in life can also be hilarious.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Arts Editor Isabella Fincher at firstname.lastname@example.org