Tim Slagle on finding his birth parents, DNA, and the key to staying young
"I was adopted," he explains from his home in Chicago. "It's a very interesting story. [Acme Comedy Co. owner] Louis Lee's wife -- no more -- had this hobby. She had a half-brother she knew about, but didn't know where he was, so she looked him up. It was such a positive experience that she decided it was going to be her mission in life to reunite families."
When she found out Slagle was adopted, she approached him with the idea of finding his birth parents, but he resisted at first. "She wouldn't leave me alone," he laughs. "She just kept at it, and finally I relented. I'm so glad I did. I really owe her. She found my birth mom in about two months."
He elaborates: "My mom had married my birth dad shortly after I was born, and I had five full sisters that I never met before. That was 15 years ago. It's really neat, because there are all of these nieces and nephews that don't know the family before Uncle Timmy. There are a few that are old enough to remember, but now it's like I've always been there."
In the course of reconnecting, Slagle, one of America's favorite libertarian comedians and commentators, made a fascinating discovery about his birth father. "He was not only a comedian," says Slagle, "but the county chairman of the Libertarian Party. It was amazing, because there was no contact. I was adopted out when I was three months old. There has to be something in the DNA."
He soon made another observation about his sisters. "All six of us think we're smarter than everybody else. When we get together, the competition gets pretty stiff."
The parents who raised him have since passed away, and his other siblings are scattered around the country, so he has become quite close to his birth family. "I slid right in. All these quirks the family I was raised with found so weird are completely normal for them."
Before becoming a comedian in the mid-'80s, Slagle was knocking around the punk-rock scene in the Motor City. He still enjoys music, and for a long time he has had a very interesting theory: "I always felt that what caused people to grow old is the fact that they stopped listening to new music. When I was in my 20s, there was that cleave where some people stuck with arena rock, and then punk rock happened right at the end of the '70s."
Slagle wound up straddling the watershed of old and new, and decided to go forward. "I noticed that most of the people I graduated with were still into the same stuff -- Kiss, Aerosmith -- and that's when the younger people started finding the Runaways, the Ramones, the Sex Pistols, and Elvis Costello. I went that way, and it was really weird for me to go through my friends' records. Ten years later, in the mid-'80s, they were listening to Born in the USA and Led Zeppelin. That's when I came up with this theory that you could stay young if you listened to new music."
These days, it's Vampire Weekend that tops the list. "I didn't want to admit I liked them for a long time," he confesses. "I was in the grocery store the other night, and I was listening to the music in the background and they were playing the Killers. I thought, 'Okay, I guess that one's over.'"
IF YOU GO:
Acme Comedy Co.
708 N. First St., Minneapolis; 612-338-6393
8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 10:30 Friday and Saturday