INTERVIEW: Comedian Daniel Sloss pushing boundaries on path to the top


AT the age of 27, Daniel Sloss is one of the UK's best-established stand-up stars.

You won't see him appearing on Mock the Week or Live at the Apollo any time soon, but having just completed his 10th Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the young Scot is undoubtedly one of the leading lights on the comedy circuit.

At the turn of the decade, he was all over the TV listings, but in the years since, he's devoted all his time to becoming a household name for his work on the stage.

"Many years from now I want to be considered one of the greatest of all-time, and I know the way to do that is to keep working all the time on my stand-up and not resting on my laurels," says Daniel.

You can judge for yourself whether he's on the path to greater things - he brings his Now tour to the Old Fire Station, in Carlisle, on Wednesday November 29.

The show was the latest in a long line of sell-out successes at the Edinburgh Fringe in August, and marked a decade of appearances at the UK's premier comedy event.

"This one was probably the best yet, which I know I say every year, but I hope that that's always going to be the case," he continues.

"I absolutely love the 'veteran' status, and I do think I'm a lot more accepted now. I did my first festival when I was 17, and I didn't know then if I would be in it for the long-haul - I knew I wanted to be - and the fact that I'm still doing it, and still relatively young, it feels good to be considered a veteran.

"There was a few years where I got a bit of a hard time for being young and because I'd been on TV and done tours. So there was probably one or two years where I didn't really felt like I belonged, but it gave me an extra motivation.

"In all that time, I've always been working and I knew that I was putting in a lot more work than most comedians, and I think they sort of accept me as a veteran now.

"The progress I've made over the past five years has been massive, and I always want to keep getting better and better."

Sloss is an ultra-confident performer - that much was evident when he made the breakthrough as a teenager. And though those early days make painful viewing for him now, they were a massive learning curve at such a young age.

"I can't watch any of that stuff back from 10 years ago. People will say 'you were young' and I was always quite good at this, but it didn't have any substance to it.

"It's a bit like when you see photos of yourself from 10 years ago, and you think 'what the hell was I doing?'. And yes, I did actively try and move away from all that.

"Everything that was shown on TV was edited down, and that means that people only ever saw my 'clean' material. It wasn't a true representation of me.

"People would come to my shows expecting it all to be like that and there would be 10 minutes of clean material and 50 minutes of my dark stuff - it felt like I was selling a false product. They asked why I didn't do any of my horrible stuff on TV - I wanted to, but the BBC edited it out because it might upset people like you!

"If I do TV now, it has to be on my own terms and I can talk about what I want."

The stuff he wants to talk about is not standard prime-time fare. Anti-religious jokes and brazen discussions about death don't always sit well with a mainstream comedy audience

But like his mentor, Frankie Boyle, offending people is bottom of his list of concerns.

He says: "This show doesn't have a theme as such, it's just me talking about my experiences, and trying to figure out whether I'm a sociopath or not.

"A lot of people say that about me, and I can understand why. I am an empathetic person, but I'm very, very good at keeping control of my emotions, and that's not seen as normal. I think we live in a time where emotions are a far bigger currency than logic.

"If I'm in a bar and I have an argument with someone, and they don't have an answer to my point and start crying, they win. Just because my point has upset you, doesn't mean that it is wrong.

"Being outraged is a currency now too, and people who tell you they are outraged are the worst - if you don't like it, leave. It's like people in this day and age that go and see Frankie Boyle and then walk out because he's said something offensive - what did you expect?

"I hate when people say that my comedy is dark. I'll talk about difficult subjects and talk about death, and I do believe that anything can be joked about, and I'm not sorry if that offends anyone.

"Whenever you see a comedian apologise for saying something offensive, they're not apologising because it was offensive, they're apologising for somebody's stupidity in not understanding the joke."

Sloss' rise to prominence has not been navigated along the well-trodden routes, with most of his TV work coming as a guest on US TV show Conan - where he's appeared on a record-breaking seven occasions - and choosing to tour to countries that are practically untouched by British comedians, such as Latvia and Estonia.

"I understand being British, we assume these people aren't as intelligent as us - how can they understand our jokes if they're watching a show in their second language?

"But that's not the case at all. They're raised on American TV and they all have great stand-up scenes. Somewhere like Lithuania though, their scene is only four or five years old, and they'll be the first to admit that it's still finding it's feet. They're desperate for comedians to go out and perform there.

"It can only be ignorance or bad agents that is stopping others doing the same - most comedians are obsessed with cracking certain markets, so it's great for me, because I've got an untapped market.

"I understand that a lot of comedians want to be famous and host shows on TV, and that's fine if that's what they want to be doing, but for me, I only want to be a comedian."

Daniel Sloss brings Now to the Old Fire Station, in Carlisle, on Wednesday November 29, and tickets are available from the venue's booking office.

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