Daniel Sloss speaks on sociopathic traits and Conan O’Brien ahead of his tour date in Warrington later this month

Posted on 1 November 2017
By Khyle Deen
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As Daniel Sloss hits the road on a three-month UK and European tour after a 10th sell-out Edinburgh run, he tells us how his comedy has gravitated to the dark side – where the only way to find out if you’re a crazy person or not is to talk to a roomful of strangers. 
How does it feel to have just notched up your 10th Edinburgh at the age of 26?

I love it. For many reasons. I spent a lot of years on the circuit not feeling like I belonged. I got a lot of TV work early on and I was getting a lot of big gigs but I felt an imposter, like I hadn’t really earned my stripes.

Nobody ever made me feel that way, it was just me. The comedy circuit’s been incredibly supportive. But now having 10 under my belt… Nobody questions my stripes.

Down the years, your style’s become more extreme as you’ve progressed. Are you still holding something back or are you leaving it all out there?

It’s slowly bleeding out. I’m learning how to do it. For years my comedy was fine. But there was no substance or truth to it when I started. I’d just talk about things that wound me up. It’s only in the past four years I’ve started being myself on stage. I’m a very dark person deep down and every year I just try to bleed it out a little bit more. It’s a case of, let’s see if we can get away with this. Is this a normal thought? Am I a crazy person? And the only way to find out is to say it to a roomful of strangers and see if they laugh…

That’s quite a privileged position.

Oh god yeah. Last year I talked about being in a relationship where you can’t be bothered breaking up with the person and you just find yourself wishing they’d die to save you the effort. I remember thinking that’s a real shit thought to have. I must be the only person to have thought that. But when I said it on stage, half the audience were laughing. So I don’t know if that’s the world or just my fucked-up crowd.

So you were personally responsible for helping people to break up? ‘Doing God’s work’ as you called it.

Yeah absolutely. People sent me messages and I’d retweet them all and stick them on Facebook cos no one believed me. I was getting messages saying ‘Thanks for the advice, I did what you said. You were absolutely right, I’ve broken up with my girlfriend.’

Like a twisted comedy agony uncle.

It was one of those moments where you realise how powerful comedy can be.

Have you got any similar hopes for this new show?

Yeah, for people to stop valuing their emotions. Don’t act as if they have a currency. ‘Oh that thing upset me.’ Well, kill yourself, it’s not your planet. We’re sharing it. If I’ve accidentally offended someone by aiming at the wrong target then I’ll hold my hand up. But there’s a real level of arrogance to being offended by a comedian.

Just to sit in an audience and assume that the person on stage, who doesn’t know your name, has specifically sat at home and wrote a joke to wind you up is a level of narcissism that I can never compete with. You’re the one who paid to see me. You know my name and not vice versa. Never forget that.

Is there anything you wouldn’t say on stage?

No. Absolutely not. There are some things I couldn’t say but that’s because I don’t have the skill yet. I don’t think there’s anything that cannot or should not be joked about. It’s not about the topic, it’s about the angle. Murder’s never funny, but I can make a joke about murder that’s funny. I’ve got 15 minutes on paedophilia this year. I can make it funny by changing the target. You don’t make jokes about the victim but the perpetrator. You change the angle. You surprise people. I hope I never feel that I can’t make a joke about something. Comedians aren’t necessarily important and we’re not going to change the world but I do think we need to test stuff occasionally.

It’s a responsible position.

You’ve got to take the seriousness with the responsibility. I used to make fat phobic jokes, but I don’t make them so much any more cos I realised I have some teenage fan base and some of them probably have body issues. It must be shit to watch your favourite comedian make fun of you. That’s a personal choice. But if somebody ever told me, ‘You can’t make jokes about fat people,’ you’d better believe I’m doing 20 minutes on it next year. If you tell me you can’t joke about something, I’ll write a show about it. Don’t tell me what to do!

Your 2015 show, Dark, when you talked about your dead sister, was quite a turning point for you, wasn’t it?

Absolutely. I discovered how much I loved making the audience feel awkward. Just dropping real honest truth where there’s not a punchline coming for a bit. They’ve trusted you for 50 minutes, they’ve been laughing and they’re ready to laugh again, and then you just drop something real serious on them and they don’t know how to react. The relief from the first laugh after that bit is a real power trip. I love it. I didn’t realise how honest I could be on stage and how much I enjoyed it. The reason I didn’t make any jokes about my sister before wasn’t because it was traumatising. I just couldn’t make it funny. And when I did, I thought, ‘Oh, I can make anything funny.’ So when I got through a shitty break-up and was thinking ‘I despise people in relationships,’ people told me that level of hatred isn’t funny. But it was. And it’s the same with paedophilia. Being groomed isn’t funny. But I’ll give it a go!

You talk about your hatred for the world… Where does that come from?

I’ve no idea. I had a happy childhood. My dad, maybe, but he’s a big sweetheart. The attitude I have towards religion absolutely comes from my father.

Do you think you’re a sociopath?

Absolutely not. No.

You kind of imply it in the show.

Yeah I do. I reckon killing someone’s dead easy. If you were to give me a gun and someone I hate was in the room, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. If I knew I was getting away with it, absolutely, of course. But that’s just me talking a big game in the pub. Who knows? But I do love very deeply. My friends are the most important people in the world to me. I love kids. I’ve got two god kids and I can’t wait to be a dad one day. And those aren’t the thoughts of a sociopath. Sociopaths don’t well up whenever they see babies like I do.

Would it be fair to say you’re not the panel-show type…?

For me being a comedian is being on stage doing jokes. I’ve done them before and they’re fine but I just don’t enjoy it. I didn’t get into stand-up to be on TV. I got into stand-up cos I love stand-up. I enjoy acting and would love to get back into it. But with TV, America does it right. ‘Oh you’re a stand -up comedian. Do you want to come on to this show and do some stand-up comedy? Great.’ Whereas in the UK, it’s ‘You’re a stand-up comedian?  Do you want to come on to this show and NOT do stand-up comedy?’ We take stand- ups away from being stand-ups in this country and that’s why we don’t produce as many greats as the Americans. But I do think our middle 50% of comedians is so much better than America’s. But most comedians still want TV to help boost their profile.

I’d love to do TV where it’s just stand-up but I’m very aware of selling an audience a false product. You see me on TV being nice cos I want to come across as likeable on a panel show, laughing and being sweet, trying to please everyone, and then you see my stand-up and I’m like, ‘F*** you, f*** this, there’s no God.’ When I did my first darker show it was after I’d done a bunch of TV stuff and every night I’d spend half the show watching 20 people walk out cos they’d seen this young cheeky chappie on TV and now here’s this angry twentysomething effing and jeffing and calling everyone a c*** and talking about his dead sister. And I kind of only had myself to blame there.

Is that why you do Conan O’Brien quite a lot in the US?

The reason I do Conan is cos they let me say… not anything, but they let me do my anti-abortion joke and talk about how I wanted my ex-girlfriend to die. They let me get away with my jokes that happen to be pushing boundaries and that’s why I keep doing it cos that’s the type of TV I want to do. I can be myself. I did Drunk History cos that’s also me… I’m drunk and I’m shouting about something!

Who’s your support act on tour this time?

Kai [Humphries]. It’s always going to be Kai.

What are you two like on the road?

Surprisingly sensible nowadays. That first tour was just me and him in his Vauxhall Astra just hotboxing it in the hotel car park every night, proper Cheech and Chong style. We came back so fat and out of shape. So the next year we just went to the gym.

You’re 26. Shame on you!

What do you want us to do on a Monday night in Banbury? How rock ’n’ roll can you be?

Can you see yourself doing comedy for the rest of your life then?

Oh God I hope so. If I don’t, I’ll have to kill myself. I’ve got no transferable skills. I don’t have suicidal thoughts, but it’s the only logical conclusion. You think I’m going to be able to go from a job where I work one hour a day calling people c***s to suddenly dealing with members of the public for a minimum wage? I’d hang myself. I’ve tasted this life now. I can’t go back!

See Daniel Sloss: NOW at Pyramid Arts Centre, Warrington on Friday 17 November. For tickets and more
information visit http://www.pyramidparrhall.com/whats-on/event/daniel- sloss-now/