Bob Slayer has a pretty incredible CV. He was a jockey before he broke his back. He’s managed tours for the Bloodhound Gang, Electric Eel Shock and Snoop Dogg. He was a stunt rider, medieval knight and a jouster in several films. He was the first westerner to be crowned Karaoke Champion of Japan and he’s now guest editor of The Demon. Bob would be well within his rights to retire right now, but he keeps moving like a shark in lager, and doesn’t dwell on past achievements: “What I am most proud of is what I am doing right now. Just as I was most proud of what I was doing then. So when I was sat on top of horses, that was the best thing in the world. When I was touring around the world with a crazy Japanese band (Electric Eel Shock) that was all I cared about… But right now Comedy is my passion, both performing and also creating artist friendly pop up venues with a chaotic and creative environment where anything could happen and where people leave having had a unique experience. Or maybe they stay? Let’s have a comedy lock in!”
Bob explains that, having not had a ‘proper job’ for over 15 years, he doesn’t really have a CV anymore, just a series of incidents like the ones listed above. He’s lead such an eclectic life that it’s easy to question whether it’s all true: “A lot of people look at how large I am now and don’t believe I was ever a jockey. However it’s totally true. Between the ages of 16 and 21 I had over 300 rides and 3 winners, but then I got too heavy and had to give up… On the other hand no one ever questions the ridiculous claim that I was the first Westerner to be Karaoke Champion of Japan.” Bob thinks that people really struggle with the idea of an Englishman managing a Japanese band and that this lie helps them make sense of it. “This is how the lie came about: Metal Hammer Magazine wanted a story as to how I had met the band and having been asked that question many times, the band may have been a little bit flippant. Once Metal Hammer went to print it became fact and other places reprinted it… Which just goes to show that the media is full of lies!” With the obvious exception of The Demon, of course.
Bob also holds the World record for “Longest Hug” alongside fellow comedian Patrick Monahan. Hugging someone for 25 hours and 25 minutes must have been a very intimate experience, I ask Bob if there’s anyone he’d rather hug for this length of time: “There is no one I would like to hug more than Pat Monahan, no one I say!’ Bob’s favourite world record holder is Colin Furze, who he insists I check out on Youtube, his records include the world’s longest moped, biggest bonfire and fastest mobility scooter. ‘He was once going to blow up Electric Eel Shock’s old tour bus for a music video. But while we were planning a date the kids on my estate beat him to it and fire bombed it! Sadly no video exists of that but the kids seemed to have fun.”
One thing which doesn’t appear on Bob’s incident list is ‘manager of Arctic Monkeys’. He was, however, approached for the role: “They were the local support band in Sheffield for Electric Eel Shock, who I managed, and after the show Alex of the Arctic Monkeys, probably only 15 at the time, handed me a CDR which I still have and asked me if I would be interested in managing them. I said that I was a bit busy with EES who were about to be massive. I truly believe Electric Eel Shock would have been massive if it hadn’t been for one thing – and that thing was me holding them back. I was a terrible manager. I didn’t even know there were two Frankfurts in Germany until I turned up with the band at the wrong one…” Bob doesn’t regret missing his opportunity to manage Arctic Monkeys, because if he had done then we would never have heard of them. It is for exactly this reason that he does regret never managing Justin Beiber.
Bob’s chaotic ‘happenings’, such as getting naked and scaling the balconies of De Montfort Hall at last year’s festival, his love of alcohol, and anarchic approach to life have drawn comparisons with Johnny Vegas. He can see where this comes from: “A long time ago Akihito Morimoto of Electric Eel Shock told me that there are many ways to be a great guitarist. You can be very technical like Santana or you can totally play from feeling like Hendrix. Most people sit somewhere between the two. I think Comedy is similar. There are comics who agonise over every word and nuance of their routine and there are those that live in the moment. Both are perfectly valid and can be hilarious, however I feel more comfortable at the same living in the moment end of the scale as Johnny Vegas who is to my mind the Jimi Hendrix of Comedy.” When I mention the De Montfort Hall nudity incident, Bob says that I have my facts wrong; “How dare you, I had my socks on, it is very important to always keep your socks on!”
I asked Bob how the people of Leicester take to his antics: “Of course it varies from gig to gig, in the aforementioned gig where I ran around naked, I think they were mostly shocked and quite rightly so but on the whole Leicester is lucky to have the Comedy Festival.” Because the people of Leicester get to see so much comedy ‘it tends to mean that folks are more open to non-mainstream comedy.’
Perhaps the weirdest story I’ve heard about Bob is the time that a 17 year old girl checked his prostate live on stage…
And that’s quite the cliff-hanger, right? Well if you’ve read this far, thank you! Please pick up a copy of The Demon – they’re in DMU buildings and all over the city in venues during the festival – to read the second half of my interview with our guest editor Bob Slayer.