Please explain what just happened.

Revolution, in my mind.

What is your earliest memory?

I’ve discussed this with my mom several times in the past.It seems that I continue to remember things further and further back.I’m some sort of memory savant.I remember making my parents reschedule my fourth birthday party because it conflicted with Scooby Doo.I also remember the girl across the street sticking her hand in my cake at my first birthday party.I’m not even sure if that’s possible, but I do.Her name was Melanie, and as far as I’m concerned, that little hooker still owes me a cake.Apparently all my early memories are birthday related.

If you weren’t a comedian what other profession would you choose?

I’m conflicted on this one.I wanted to be a bounty hunter for a while, then a Jedi, which is obvious by my lightsaber infused Gravatars.  Now I just want to be a ninja.  I am one already, but I’m ready for the public to respect me for my skills.  I’m still working on the money aspect.

Please describe the current contents of your refrigerator.

Lots of vegetables, ground turkey, soy milk. All that crap belongs to my marathon running roommate though.I won’t touch any of that stuff.I’m pretty sure there are some bratwursts and a six pack of Guinness in there that belongs to me.

What verb best describes you?


What would you say to yourself if you could go back in time and have a conversation with yourself at age thirteen?

Um, I’m sorry that I’m the one they sent back to talk to you.They should have waited a few years and sent the “me” that’s made it.It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better, but it’s going to be a really fun fuckin’ ride.Even the suckiest of parts are going to be filled with some really great people.More than anything though, take all that aggressive energy and intelligence and desire, and take some bigger leaps than I did.Oh, and there’s this girl named Angie that… nah, never-mind.You’ll meet her when you’re eighteen.There’s probably not a lot you can do differently.

What are the steps you take to regain your composure?

When I’m in the middle of insanity I perform incredibly well.As soon it’s over, however, I disappear.I go totally AWOL.That could mean holed up at home or out camping in the mountains somewhere for a few days.Isolation does a very good job of re-centering me.

Define “success.”

It seems so typical to say “doing what you love to do”.Ultimately I think it’s probably closer to finding a way to be a vital part of something bigger than yourself.That, and always having access to Fudge Stripe cookies.

From what or whom do you derive your greatest inspiration?

Music, music, music.I have 25,000 songs in my iTunes and cannot imagine functioning without them.Whether it’s Rise Against or The Bronx thumping in my earbuds before I walk on stage, Michael Franti on a road trip, Led Zeppelin (the greatest band in the history of ever), or Mozart’s Requiem while I write, there is a soundtrack to every aspect of my life.When I’m writing, I gravitate towards music that is either instrumental or in a language I can’t understand because I don’t like being influenced by lyrical content in my creative process.I listen to a lot of world music too, for that very reason.

What change do you want to be in the world?

I want to find a way to travel and show people that we’re not totally different from one another.I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I can “change” the world, but I would like to impact some of the people in it.Even the worst of humanity laughs.Sure, sometimes it’s a maniacal laugh and borne of mental illness, but it remains one of the things we share as a people regardless of our culture or background.If there were any really good terrorist comedians, those people would blow up a lot less coffee shops.Someone needs to start an open mic in Kabul.

Are you pro- or anti-emoticon? Please explain.

I use them a lot.More than I should.Mainly because I type some horribly inappropriate things and you can’t always catch the sarcasm or playfulness in what I’m saying, i.e. “I hope you get testicular cancer in your mouth 🙂 ”See how the smiley helps?

How are you six degrees from Kevin Bacon?

I spent a few days in Africa this past year with Christian Slater, who was in Murder in the First with Kevin Bacon.

What makes you feel most guilty?

Misleading people.I don’t do it often, precisely because of how bad I feel about it.

Please list three things you never leave home without.

My iPod, my sunglasses, my Blackberry.I even take my sunglasses with me at night.I won’t wear them, but it’s nice to have them in the off chance I don’t make it home.Nothing hurts worse at 8:00 am than unfiltered sunlight.

What is the worst piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Get your degree first, then you can go try all that stuff you really want to do.”I didn’t listen to it, thank God.I knew a Civil Engineering degree wasn’t going to work for me, and in hindsight I’m really glad I recognized that when I did.

What is the best advice you’ve ever given to someone else?

“Jump.”I don’t give safe advice, mainly because I think so little good comes from safe choices.

What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?

Silence.It’s the cruelest thing you can give to a person that you love.To disappear and intentionally leave someone with unanswered questions is either completely careless or completely heartless.Either way, you’re betraying the relationship.

Of all the game shows that have graced our TV screens throughout history, which one would you want to be a contestant on and why?

Rock N’ Roll Jeopardy.Hands down.I challenge anyone, anywhere, anytime.Except for that Ken Jennings guy…I do know a ridiculous amount of random uselessness about music though.

What do you want to know?

Hmmmm.There are so many things.How I manage to like almost every film Keanu Reeves is in despite the fact that he is such a horrible actor.How Meat Loaf and Marilyn Manson come up with such clever song titles.Oh, and I’d like to know what’s out “there”.I really want to travel in space and see exactly how wrong we’ve all been about what the aliens look like.

What would you like your last words to be?

I won.

Please explain what will happen.

Revolution, outside of my mind.I think we’re reaching a tipping point as a people and someone soon is going to figure out a way to push that snowball down the cliff face.That is, of course, if the Mayan calendar doesn’t kill us all first.

TAGS: , , , , ,

SLADE HAM is a stand up comedian. He has performed in 52 countries on six continents, a journey that can be followed in his book, Until All the Dragons Are Dead. One day he hopes to host a travel show and continue to trick the world into paying him to do the things he loves to do. Slade is also an Editor for The Nervous Breakdown's Arts and Culture section. He keeps a very expensive storage unit in Houston, TX.

109 responses to “21 Questions with Slade Ham”

  1. Greg Olear says:

    Well played, Slade.

    [That rhymes!]

    The photos are terrific.

    Open Mic in Kabul. (Or Kandahar). Ha! There’s a comedy sketch if I ever heard one. It’d be like the Apollo, but they’d throw grenades instead of tomatoes.

  2. Zara Potts says:

    Nice interview, Ninja!
    I too, never leave home with my sunglasses. They have become almost like another body part. In fact, just yesterday, I got into the shower and only realised as the water hit them that I still had them on. What a dick.
    But seriously, I think your answer to betrayal – is spot on. Silence is the worst thing. Nicely put.

    • Slade Ham says:

      I am so much more comfortable in my glasses. I feel panicky without them – it’s weird. I cannot, for some bizarre reason, wear mine on my head. I end up carrying them everywhere.

      And I struggled with how to phrase that betrayal answer. I still think I failed miserably, haha. I’m glad it was coherent enough to get my point across though.

  3. Judy Prince says:

    10 Questions for Slade Ham:

    1) What’s The Force that’s inside a light saber?

    2) Is it the same Force that’s inside bratwurst and Guinness?

    3) Don’t you think it’s the same Force that was inside little Melanie’s hand?

    4) Why couldn’t you just muscle your parents to let you kids watch Scooby Do at your birthday part?

    5) Is it possible that Meat Loaf is the alien we’ll see when we get into space?

    6) In the shower you wore your sunglasses on your dick?

    7) In what ways does isolation after a show help you?

    8) You want to write a book about what?

    9) How do you get past the tricky barrier of a different language when trying to make people laugh or “getting” other-languaged folks’ jokes?

    10) Where’s that birthday cake?

    Good stuff, Slade. Glad that you spread cheer here and worldly; it’s soooo needed!

    7) Is Sandman actually Michael Jackson?

    8) Have you ever done 5 minutes of pure silence at a stand-up?


    • Slade Ham says:

      1) There’s not Force inside a lightsaber – only a focusing crystal. The Force is in the Jedi that wields it.

      2) No, that Force is beer.

      3) I never thought to attribute her cake destroying powers to the Force at all. I may have to rethink my anger towards her now. I still want my cake though.

      4) Because my mind control powers weren’t fully developed at four.

      5) I don’t know if he’ll be the one we’ll see or not, but I have no doubt that he is of another planet.

      6) Where else would I hang them?

      7) Being on stage is such sensory overload sometimes, coupled with handshakes and conversations afterward. It’s weird that I do what I do considering my general distaste for large groups of people. Isolation lets me decompress.

      8) I have a thousand stories. Maybe more. Fiction isn’t my thing, but I have every intention of finishing something memoir’ish.

      9) Obviously the vernacular is different. What’s not different though, is the emotion behind comedy. Funny is funny is funny – we just use different slang. Finding a way to build a bridge across that chasm is a fun challenge for me.

      10) I wish I knew.

      Other 7) It is possible. I never saw the two of them at the same place at the same time.

      Other 8) I have not. The audience watching me has, however.

      • Judy Prince says:

        Slade slam dunks all the way! Even Comment Robot likes it. Sandman, though, says the jury’s still out.

  4. Gloria says:

    Though I agree that Led Zepplin are one of the best bands in all of ever, they’re second to the Beatles.

    Nonetheless: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73dvrir5kig – there’s almost nothing on the planet that rivals this in pure energy and awesomeness.

    You were dead-on with the answer to this one, though: What do you consider the harshest kind of betrayal?

    This whole interview was just really fun.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Nooooooooo. This will clearly spark some debate, but I am not a big Beatles fan. I don’t dislike them by any means, but I have never found myself seriously wanting to listen to the Beatles. I’d take Stones over them too, actually.

      Some live Zep was exactly what I needed today. Thanks for that 🙂

      And I’m so glad that the silence/betrayal point came across. Thank you for getting that.

      • Lorna says:

        I clicked on TNB this morning and said “Holy crap….Slade is everywere”. 🙂

        The silence/betrayal answer brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been on both sides of that equation. It made me really uncomfortable. Which is one of the reasons I tend enjoy reading you.

        I’m not a huge fan of the Beatles but I do dislike their music either. I do however adore David Cooks version of Elenor Rigby.

        I think you should share your lunch with the homeless man story here on TNB.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I ‘m not sure how these comments are going to organize themselves. Thanks for the compliments, Lorna. I had forgotten I had written about the homeless man story. That deserves a rewrite I think, more than it does a reposting. It will give me something new to play with this week.

        • Lorna says:

          I am afraid the order of organization of this comment was my fault. I was only going to comment on the Beatles reference to which I meant to say that “I’m not a huge fan of the Beatles but I do NOT dislike their music either.”

          Then I got sidetracked with other thoughts. I thought that I cut and pasted below, but I guess not.

          You guys keep those light sabers away from my butterfly wings….I might accidently fly into the light and get zapped.

          I shall look forward to your updated version of the homeless man story and prepare a box of kleenix.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You’re wings are safe. I really have to reread that homeless story. I can’t remember the tone it was written in. Was it sad? Probably. I went through a serious phase, hahaha.

        • Lorna says:

          No, I don’t believe it was sad. The timing of which you wrote it and the correspondence of the events in my life dealing with my dad and his homelessness is why I would need the box of kleenix.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Ah, indeed. Gotcha.

      • Gloria Harrison says:

        I love the Beatles vs. Zeplin debate. I actually instigate it from time to time just to see if anyone has anything new to say. To me, it’s like arguing over which god is the most awesome in all the pantheons of gods. At the end of the day, they’re still gods and way more awesome than me. But still, people will debate it.

        You’re welcome for the Kashmir video. I noticed you put an emoticon after the thank you, does that mean you’re being sarcastic?

        • Slade Ham says:

          Haha, no. No sarcasm at all. Emoticons can backfire sometimes.

          It all does depend on your taste in music. I’m a fan of some heavier stuff, and to be fair, it’s not something the Beatles ever really tackled. They just always seemed kind of simple to me. Were it not so late, I would probably expound on this…

          Maybe I’ll sneak back over here tomorrow and dig in. Viva la Zep.

  5. Judy Prince says:

    Sorry, Slade…..I have no idea how the Comment Robot highjacked my numbers and switched them to smiley faces as well as switched the numbers and questions around. Comment Robot needs a serious vacation.

  6. D.R. Haney says:

    I told you I was looking forward to this, Slade, and you did not disappoint.

    But regarding silence: you do know that all questions can’t be answered, of course. All we can do is try as best we can — and in some relationships, our best is never judged satisfactory.

    • Gloria Harrison says:

      Yes, but using silence as a weapon – as a way to punish, to show you just how upset you’ve made the stonewaller – is fucking bollocks. I’m presuming that to be Slade’s point.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Thanks, Duke.

      I think Gloria said it best (below me, above, wherever comments the comment is). When it’s used as a weapon, I find it incredibly uncaring and harsh. I’ve been on the receiving end, and as much as I hate to admit it, I’ve dished it out.

      Sometimes it is out of ignorance… we take for granted that the other person understands or isn’t as affected by our silence. Still, when you are on the other end of that silence, it sucks. Period.

      To walk away or close yourself off without explaining why… to cut someone out completely without attempting to show them why… that’s a twist of the knife that borders on cruel and unusual.

  7. Simon Smithson says:

    Adventure, excitement… a Jedi craves not these things.

    Loved it, Slade. And although I hate to turn what’s funny and turn it into a semi sob-fest, oh my God, I agree so totally and completely on the silence thing. It’s such a total and complete asshole of a situation to be in.

    • Slade Ham says:

      It’s funny that that answer has gotten such attention. I may have to write something on this now. The answer was borne from two particular experiences in my life, and it’s kind of stuck with me.

      I never thought it would end up being the answer to a question ever, but when I read that in the interview I knew I had to put it down. I’m glad I worded it somewhat close to correctly.

      • Simon Smithson says:

        You sure did. I’ve been on the receiving end of it too, and Jesus. Talk about gutting.

        “Sometimes it is out of ignorance… we take for granted that the other person understands or isn’t as affected by our silence. Still, when you are on the other end of that silence, it sucks. Period.

        To walk away or close yourself off without explaining why… to cut someone out completely without attempting to show them why… that’s a twist of the knife that borders on cruel and unusual.”

        I think you should start a religion.

        • Slade Ham says:

          You think I could get some followers? I’ll promise everyone full transparency, lots of cool songs, and lightsabers.

          Honestly though, I’ve been toying with the idea of elaborating on that subject, a bit more specifically. I’ve often wondered if it was simply something I took a bit more seriously then i should… and I am clearly finding out that I’m not necessarily in the minority in my feelings on this.

        • Simon Smithson says:

          I’m there. I’m so there. Like every good cult member, you had me at ‘promise’ (as opposed to ‘deliver’).

          I, for one, agree with the so-far majority. It’s agonizing; totally invalidating and confusing to be on the other side of that silence. I have no problem with someone saying ‘I need to take some space,’ or something along those lines. That’s a very different kettle of fish. To just cut someone out though… horrible, horrible thing to do.

          Because then you, as the silencee, start to question them, yourself, the whole thing – and you’ve got no way of working through that.

  8. Natalia says:

    🙂 Nice interview …
    My first birthday memory and my first temper tantrum came from a girl who coincidentally put her hand in the cake and ruined it. I wonder if her name was Melanie, hmm???

    • Slade Ham says:

      You have a Star Wars cake Gravitar!


      I would comment on the possible Melanie coincidence, but I am just happy to finally have cake.

  9. Denise Duke says:

    Great article. I am very proud every time I see an update about you, Slade. You have done amazing things.

  10. Richard Cox says:

    I’ve been mostly away from teh tubes for a few days and missed this when it was posted. I loved this interview, though. Funny and informative and meaningful all at the same time. The Force is strong with this one.

    I’ll echo what most others have said about the silent treatment. It’s one of the worst things you can do to someone you care about. I really, really hate it.

    Also, I spent time with my family this weekend, and my youngest nephew, Andrew, is five and can quote a ridiculous number of lines from Star Wars. He’s also a fan of the older films rather than the newer ones. AND he’ll randomly hum “The Imperial March” and not realize it. He’s basically the coolest nephew ever.

    So the other day I showed him the full size version of this light saber golf club pic and you should have seen his eyes. Wide like saucers. Since he has no concept of Photoshop, he thought it was real. Pure awesomeness.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Dude, you lightsaber pic looks GREAT in full size. I miss having that innocent naivete. My niece is just as fascinated by simple things. I can, on a rudimentary level, make a ring or a coin disappear – basic magic stuff that wouldn’t fool anyone over five or six. She, however, is three. “Slade can “magic” things, she says. She totally verbs the noun.

      I love that amazement. You do have the coolest nephew ever.

      On a sadder note, my Facebook profile pic is the same as my lightsaber pic in my bio here. Two days ago I got a picture comment from an adult, a twenty something year old grown up, that said “i want that where did you get it”

      Sad really, how even some big people don’t grasp Photoshop.

      • Richard Cox says:

        I think the coolest thing about the proliferation of light saber Gravatars here is imagining the new readers who come to the site and think, What on earth is everyone doing with a light saber? Hahaha.

        I see Simon is sporting a purple one and I believe it is Stefan with the double blade?

        You’re kidding on the FB comment, right? Right?

        • Slade Ham says:

          Haha, I hadn’t seen Stefan’s yet. Our Jedi army grows…

          And yes, I’m dead serious about the comment. I laughed for quite a while before I came to terms that he was sincere.

        • Anon says:

          You’re a good man, Slade. Personally, I would’ve agreed to sell it to him for a large chunk of something reasonably untraceable like cash or gold. Once I had payment, I’d blowtorch a hole in the bottom of a FedEx box, ship it to him and later claim the company must’ve jostled it enough to activate the saber inside. “Yup – I can see right there in the pic you sent that there’s a plasma-hole right in the bottom. You should file a claim right away!”

        • Slade Ham says:

          Where you two days ago? Hahaha. I haven’t told him it’s not real yet. Maybe there’s still a chance.

        • Anon says:

          Apologies, my friend. I had obligations requiring my attention. Still do, actually, but this seemed like too good an opportunity to let slip past you. (;

        • Richard Cox says:

          Anon is a master of evil. Maybe you should replace the fedora with a Vader helmet.

        • Anon says:

          I am hardly a master! Gifted amateur, certainly, but not a master. I’ve been on the wagon for years and have gotten all soft and squishy. And with fatherhood and all, I have to set a proper example for my kids so I try to use my talents strictly for good now.

          Well… sometimes for pure entertainment but… mostly good. And for profit. So, um, for good, entertainment and profit but, more often than not, for good. Yeah.

  11. Way to knock one out of the park, Slade!

    And yes, you are a total ninja. I like that you wanted to be a bounty hunter when you were young, I wanted to be a loan shark, a professional triangle player or macaroni and cheese.

    But, I love Zara’s post, Being David Bowie, about all the things she wanted to be when she was young.

    And what’s the deal with the lightsabers? I must have missed something good.

    • Slade Ham says:

      Macaroni and cheese! Bahahahahaha. I did have huge bounty hunter aspirations, stemming from my Star Wars fascination also. They sort of faded when Boba Fett was eaten by the Sarlaac though.

      You do need a lightsaber, btw. I’m sure Richard or myself would be happy to accommodate you. I don’t remember exactly who started the trend (I’m lying… it was Rich), but all the cool kids are doing it.

      I have to go back and find Zara’s piece – I don’t recall it. Headed there now.

  12. Oooohhh, you will make me a lightsaber pic?

    I would LOVE that!!!!!

    Yes, we should probably link Zara’s post. http://www.thenervousbreakdown.com/zpotts/2009/11/being-david-bowie/

    I have no Idea if that link will work. But, Zara and I started a cover band called Pussy Stardust? Want to join?

  13. Slade Ham says:

    I would love to, but only if I can be the drummer. Or the tambourinist. That was my dream job once upon as time as well actually. I used to watch The Monkees and that’s what Davy Jones played.

    Drums are way cooler though.


  14. Lorna says:

    sonofagun….I think I am finding myself wanting a light saber. Wth? I thought I would be content with the butterfly wings.

  15. Tawni says:

    This was really fun to read. The ninja pose in your first picture is my favorite. Excellent last words, too. (:

    • Richard Cox says:

      Tawni, does that light saber play music? Or are you planning to kill the next guy who tries to tell you how to play the augmented sevenths cord?

      • Tawni says:

        Yep. The next know-it-all who speaks to me in a condescending tone is losing an arm.

        Thank you again for my cool Gravatar Wars picture. I giggle happily every time I look at it. You are the Photoshop KING. xoxo.

        • Tawni says:

          I changed my picture on gravatar.com to the light saber shot, but it’s not showing up for me yet. Is it showing up for you?

          P.S. That picture was taken at the Lava Lounge in Los Angeles. The guy on the left playing the red guitar is my ex-boyfriend Hunter, who still lives there, working as a cameraman. He’s a nice guy and we’re still friends, so I’m going to send him a copy of the picture you made. I think he will love it too. (:

        • Lorna says:

          Tawni clear the internet history in your browser and reload the page. I can see your light saber. 🙂

        • Slade Ham says:

          And if he doesn’t love it, you can chop him in half with a beam of light 🙂

          We’ve snagged Sarah, too, now. We should open a lightsaber shop, Rich.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Absolutely, Slade. And to think the anonymous shrunken Gravatar man is what started the revolution. Someone had to push the snowball, right?

        • Slade Ham says:

          Snowball, indeed. I told ya I could feel it 🙂

        • Richard Cox says:

          I like how Lorna’s casts a shadow on the wall.

        • Slade Ham says:

          Oh damn… You’ve stepped your game up, Rich.

        • Richard Cox says:

          Nah, that was luck. 😉

        • Lorna says:

          That’s cuz Lorna’s original pic was casting a shadow. I shoulda had Rich put a butterfly on my shoulder or something…… hmmmmm.

          Look at all the pretty lights. Just like Vegas. hahaha.

        • Slade Ham says:

          I was totally prepared to give Rich the credit for that, too.

  16. Lorna says:

    I know! But I wanted the creative genius credit just this once! Dang, sorry Rich. Egos suck sometimes.

  17. Simon Smithson says:

    My God! Look at all the lightsabres!

  18. Sarah Bell says:

    I left my lightsaber at home today, but I just wanted to let you know that I finally got my Jedi ass over here to read your piece and now I have to pee because it was so funny. Thank you for reminding me that I have functioning kidneys, Slade, please try not to make them burst. Thank you. Love, Sarah

  19. Slade Ham says:

    How dare you leave unarmed… Your kidneys are safe. I hope. At least you know they work though. That’s a good thing. Yes?

  20. Simone says:

    Slade, where exactly in Africa were you? And what were you doing there? Have you ever done a show in South Africa? Because seriously, if you ever came to Johannesburg I’d toally be at your show!

    You’re awesomely funny. Lovin’ it.

    About the silence thing, I’ve been on the receiving end of it once or twice. I’m in agreement with you, and everyone else about what a shitty thing it is to do. I sometime give the silent treatment, but not intentionally to hurt or be cruel to someone. Sometimes I just need some time and space to clear my head before I actually say or do something that will make the silence seem even worse.

    With regards to having a soundtrack to everything in your life, it reminded me of this song (Soundtrack and Comebacks) by Goldfish:


    Goldfish are a couple of guys from South Africa who have come out exploding on the music scene here. Man, do they rock!

  21. Slade Ham says:

    I was in the Cape Horn actually, as far away from you as I could possibly be. Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, specifically.

    I was in Bahrain a few years ago with an act from South Africa, Danny Fischer and family, who I have stayed in decent touch with. They usually play the Barnyard Theaters in S. Africa? I could be mistaken. I’ve been trying to work my way in with that company for a while now. I so desperately want to visit the country.

    I get you on the silence. The difference between what you do and the cruel version is stark. We all need time to shut others out and regroup, as long as we don’t leave them outside that door with no explanation.

    I’m going to go track down Goldfish now. And thanks for the compliment. I’m really a sucker for them ;).

  22. Erika Rae says:

    I just wanted to say that I totally respect your secret ninja life. I have one, too. (Shhhhh)

    Great interview. You have a gift.

  23. Slade Ham says:

    Aren’t ninjas the greatest? Your secret is safe with me. Clan rules and all…

    And thank you so much for the compliment.

  24. […] Stand-up comics MARGARET CHO and, last but not least, a funny guy who performs under the obvious stage name SLADE HAM. […]

  25. Ok.

    How much do I love that you say “in the history of ever” in this interview?

    Tell me.

  26. Candelaria says:

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    I like that theme, and I am in constant search of new pieces and the latest news.
    I truly enjoyed that one, because it is full of interesting
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