We had the good fortune of connecting with Slade Ham and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Slade, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I don’t think I was ever really motivated to start my own business. It’s the old Sherlock Holmes’s method of eliminating the impossible so that whatever’s left, no matter how improbable, must be the answer. That’s me as a business. I failed as many ways as one possibly could as an employee, and the fault was mutual; those jobs never did anything to convince me it was worth it either. Now, deciding to stay in the entrepreneur and entertainment world is all intentional. If you have to live in a house, you might as well make it nice.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I think I’m in stand up comedy. The lines are so blurry today, coupled by my own hesitance to claim a label, that I never know how to answer the “What do you do?” question. I don’t like “influencer” or “personality.” Lately I usually just say dump truck driver. To be entirely truthful – and why wouldn’t I be? – I am a comedian, primarily stand up, who also writes things, but sometimes does things on camera or behind a microphone. I’ve slowly been positioning myself to not be dependent on any of those things. Not by themselves anyway. I’ve broadened my personal definition of what I do to, “I write clever things about things.” It’s amazing how much of a corner I’d painted myself in to with some of my thinking. Stand up and I are definitely married, and we definitely love one another, but it’s an open relationship now. It’s a distinction that’s made me much happier, even though, practically, nothing’s changed at all. I stay when I don’t feel trapped. I think I got here with youthful stubbornness and accident. Younger me was naïve and immature, but he was brash. I had it fixed in my head that I should never have to spend my life doing things I don’t want to do. That sounds incredibly unrealistic, but it was an attitude I held through the years when I otherwise would have been falling into my first job in some career field and settling down in my home town. There’s a cost to all that of course. I dropped out of college. I’ve sacrificed relationships. I don’t have the kids or the retirement plans of many of my friends. My schedule has been inconsistent. My income more so for a long time. It’s been challenging. But I think now that I’m here, 20 years in, I get to take the reins from the impetuous child who started all this. I get to clean up a lot of my mistakes, and now that I really understand this playground, I can focus on both what’s important and what makes me happiest. I made a lot of very fortunate mistakes over those early years. The only part I ever feel comfortable taking credit for is the willingness to make them, even if it was out of hubris instead of purposeful. God, that kid was an idiot. I appreciate that. Now I get to travel the world and tell jokes. I still write plenty of childish material, but I do feel a bit more of a responsibility to be a positive influence with my comedy. I know how to have big ideas AND be funny now. That took a while. I used to punch down a lot when I started, something I’m still working on, and I’ve since recognized that we do that when we’re not confident in ourselves, and there was definitely a lot of that in early me. That sounds contradictory, that the same fearless first-charger that got me into all my messes was also insecure, and that’s what made it dangerous. I was cocky and dumb. That’s like not being a doctor but volunteering when the flight attendant asks anyway. Scary. Anyway, now I’m more interested in how much I can experience. I hope my curiosity shows through in my work, and more importantly, I hope it rubs off.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Free Museum Thursday. Go upstairs, stare at the dinosaur bones. That is one of my favorite rooms in all of Houston. I’ll leave you to discover all of the city’s wonderful art on your own. Seriously, look around. I don’t know if they still make it the same way, but I had one of the best Old Fashioneds of my life at Ritual when I lived in the Heights. Now I’m more centrally located. Late night drinks and food at Red Dwarf or later to see what Luis is concocting at MAD. Also, The Secret Group on virtually any night for local stand up comedy and super cheap drinks made by another guy who probably wants to do comedy one day. Any or all of these places might be closed now. This is the Wild West.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My high school Marine Biology teacher, who shall remain nameless because I don’t know whether her push was intentional or negligent. Nevertheless, she recognized how unnecessary it was to force a bored child to watch a slide show on salinity and handed me a pass almost five days a week to go to the library. I spent most of those days in all three lunch periods instead, but occasionally I did make it to the library where I I would begin scribbling my first attempts at organized cleverness.
HS_1 Emile Browne HS_2 Dominic Duchesne=Beaulieu