Tony Slattery (born 9th November 1959) is a comedian and actor still best known for his appearances on the early UK series of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
In the '80s he was in the Cambridge Footlights alongside Stephen Fry
, Hugh Laurie
and Emma Thompson
, and went on to be ubiquitous on TV panel shows and the like. However, his career was curtailed in the mid-'90s by a nervous breakdown, caused by undiagnosed bipolar disorder for which he self-medicated with drugs and alcohol.
Despite recovering and going on to work on a variety of shows and films (including Kingdom
in 2007-8), today he is rather obscure; if you hear him mentioned in modern Britain it will usually be at the end of the sentence "Whatever happened to Tony Slattery?" He is unmarried and very private about his relationship status.
Has appeared in:
Associated tropes include:
- Ambiguously Gay / Ambiguously Bi: It's not so ambiguous that he has had a variety of relationships which he prefers not to discuss, and was engaged to a woman at university (before she apparently left him for another girl). It's more that he's an expert at obfuscating the subject whenever anyone tries to apply labels:
"I don't feel politicised about whether I am gay, straight, bisexual, whether I change from month to month, whether I'm not anything at all, whether I'm interested in light-industrial farm machinery... whoever I've slept with, men or women, then for that period of time of sexual activity you could perhaps define me, but beyond that it's a question I have always found slightly amorphous in my own mind, and so the idea of taking catch-all phrases to say I'm this or this would actually be disinformation."
- Beard of Evil: Grew one in order to play a pantomime villain in 2008. Genuinely scary, if only because it highlights just how drastically he's aged.
- Big Guy, Little Guy / Fat and Skinny: With Mike McShane on Whose Line and later their double-act improv show S&M. Although Tony was actually 5'11" and slightly overweight himself, Mike was so tall and fat that he looked little by comparison.
- This is the entire story of Tony's time on Whose Line. He was often the shortest onstage simply because the other performers tended to be huge.
- Broken Ace
- Character Tics: Pushing back his fringe with one hand, especially when nervous or directly after a scene.
- The Cast Showoff: In episode 5 of This Is David Harper, Harper's undercover investigations at a Swiss bank require him to speak fluent French (having studied French and Spanish at university).
- Sadly averted on Whose Line; he sings very well indeed and can hold his own in musical rounds, but is far more focused on getting laughs than actually demonstrating this. As a result he rarely gets a star singing role.
- I Was Quite a Fashion Victim: Most of his earlier Whose Line outfits were rather conservative suits. As the series progressed he showed up in bizarre/flamboyant/downright ugly jackets more often, including one green velvet number which he spent the whole episode deriding.
- Large Ham
- Loveable Sex Maniac: Dominant element of his comedy persona.
- Reality Subtext: Used to mention unnecessarily specific drugs during skits ("Have you been taking methyl dexamphetamine sulphate?"). This isn't just a potential Funny Aneurysm in light of his real life drug abuse - he's actually interested in pharmacology and likes to memorise the details of their names and composition.
- Really Gets Around: A running gag (although how much it's inspired by reality and how much by his Loveable Sex Maniac act is unclear). As Greg Proops sang in the sex-themed hoedown:
Oh I'm a randy bugger, I really get around,
I like to have a shag with everyone in town.
I have lots of fun, I'm as happy as can be,
And that's 'cause my name is Tony Slattery.
- Refuge in Audacity: Cannot walk past a risqué topic without panicking and making it explicit.
- Running Gag: 'Patricia.'
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: When Stephen Fry was too busy to star in a second series of Channel 4 mockumentary This Is David Lander, Tony was cast as David Harper, the name of the show was changed accordingly, and everything went on as if nothing had happened.
- It is of course the characters who are Suspiciously Similar, since Tony and Stephen don't bear even a passing resemblance to one another. But they do share the same Footlights career background.