The white-guy-as-victim school of thought has been heard everywhere including the Supreme Court, but rarely with as much gusto as in the rantings of comedian Bobby Slayton, the self-billed "Pit Bull of Comedy," who has made a career out of butchering sacred cows, and who plays the Improv this weekend.
Slayton's act brims with wisecracks about gays, blacks, Hispanics, the intolerantly religious and--especially--women. For balance, he takes a few jabs at Jews, his own tribe. He rhapsodizes about pornography and the death penalty, and--big surprise--immigrants who don't learn English annoy him. He claims he replaced the movie his daughter was watching--Beethoven's 2nd--with Cujo while she was in the bathroom. He says that married life has made him understand the attraction of the gay lifestyle ("You're hangin' out with the guys, and you still get blowjobs. How cool is that?"). He says his sexual fantasy is for his wife to walk in on him making love to Julia Roberts, and then go make him a sandwich. He despises conservative white Christians, and doesn't fear their warnings of hell "because the Jews'll cater, the blacks'll entertain, the homos'll decorate, and it'll be one big fuckin' party!"
All this is on his upcoming Miramar CD Raging Bully. So is this observation: "You can make a movie called White Men Can't Jump, but if you dare to make a movie called Black People Can't Seem to Shut the Hell Up in a Movie Theatre, you're a racist."
In the context of his loutish act, Slayton manages not to come across as a racist, and he's often pretty funny. His humor is conventional, angry-white-guy stuff, but it's not really hateful, and it's leavened with self-deprecation. He's got the timing of a real pro behind his hoarse New York accent.
"My act is--I'm so sick of that phrase, politically incorrect--it's basically standup," says Slayton. "People try to pigeonhole you, you're Denis Leary, Andrew Dice Clay, bad boy, trying to shock people. Know what? I'm just out there trying to get laughs. Do people get offended by some of my stuff? Yes. But you've got to remember, people say 'damn' or 'hell' on the radio, and people will get offended by that and they'll change the channel. People will get offended by absolutely nothing.
"Feminists and lesbians generally have a very thin skin," he generalizes. "And very religious people. You know what's out there. If I'm gonna worry about people's sensibilities, then you know what? Don't come to my show. There's comedians like Carrot Top with his little props, or Paula Poundstone talkin' about her cats. Those people I just despise. I don't mean to put Carrot Top and Paula Poundstone in the same category, but, you know, there's comedy for everybody."
Despite his propensity to snipe at his fellow comedians, in one-on-one conversation, Slayton comes off as a pure pussycat, nothing like his stage persona except that he talks very fast. He gushes on about his beloved daughter, or about his collection of horror-film memorabilia, which includes a complete run of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine.
"I'd like to make the jump to movies, like a lot of my friends," says Slayton. He's already had small but key roles in such films as Get Shorty, Martians Go Home and Ed Wood, and he plays Joey Bishop in the upcoming HBO film about the Rat Pack--he does a line or two in his Bishop voice, and he's not bad.
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The 20-year comedy-club war-horse seems content to keep offending people for a living. "My wife hates my stuff. Do I act this way around the house? Obviously I can't get away with it.
"I find that straight white people get more offended than anyone by my black stuff, or my gay stuff. All these white, guilty liberals. Gay people usually don't mind my stuff, and black people love the black stuff. I find the people who get most offended are women. But even them, after a lot of my shows, a lot of 'em come up to me and say, you're such an asshole, but you're so funny. Hey, I'm not tryin' to fuck you, I'm not trying to take you out, I'm not running for any political office, I'm not here to kiss babies. You came to a comedy club. Did you laugh? Good, go home."
By M. V. Moorhead
Bobby Slayton is scheduled to perform at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 19; at 8 and 10 p.m. Friday, March 20; and the same hours Saturday, March 21; and at 8 p.m. Sunday, March 22, at the Tempe Improv Comedy Theater, 930 East University (at Cornerstone mall). Tickets are $10 Thursday and Sunday, $12 Friday and Saturday. 921-9877.