Reviewer: Paul Maguire
Daniel Sloss is ambitious. This 27-year-old ‘veteran’ of the comedy circuit eventually wants to be regarded as one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all time. Is this a hubristic belief or a realistic aspiration?
His early career was indeed meteoric. As a 14-year-old he wrote jokes for Frankie Boyle, at 17 he was a finalist in So You Think You’re Funny. That same year he also appeared on The Michael McIntyre Roadshow and Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
He has since eschewed such mainstream TV work, at least in the UK. He says that this is so he can develop his stagecraft and become known as a comedian in his own right and not just a panel show guest. He is also making waves in the U.S. He has appeared on Conan O’Brien’s late-night chat show Conan a record seven times, and last year he completed a critically acclaimed off-Broadway run.
Over the years he has ditched his middle of the road, mainstream TV-friendly fare, regarding relationships and living at home etc., in favour of darker and more politically aware content, about sexuality, death, gay rights and social justice. His last tour was actually entitled Dark.
Sloss’s demeanor at the start of Now is confident, amiable and surprisingly self-deprecating. His opening 20 minutes hark back to the humorous, but inoffensive material of his youth; a loathing of his tour poster and a faux rant against anyone who has the gall to drink pulpy orange juice.
He touches on the deeper material to come when he posits the idea that ‘death is sometimes good’. In his opinion, the world would be a better place if some people were not in it. He suggests that Donald Trump would be at the top of his particular hit list. This brings him to the main theme of the show; is he himself a sociopath? The subtle segue from Trump to a discussion on sociopathy, without making the direct link between the two, is an adroit piece of comedic writing.
Sloss then lets us know that his family think that he himself, may, in fact, be a sociopath. Not only because he values logic over emotion and he laughs at his friend’s misfortunes, but also because as an 11-year-old he was instantly and correctly able to answer a Readers Digest question, which seemingly diagnosed sociopathic tendencies.
Psychopaths are born and sociopaths are created by experiences. Sloss informs us that there are 15 traits that an individual could have that would define them as a sociopath. Most people possess four of these, he has eight.
During his life so far, he has not had any traumatic experiences that would be likely to have turned him into a sociopath, such as bullying, bad parenting, head trauma or child abuse. When he was 14 however, he was unsuccessfully groomed by a paedophile at a theatre school.
He turns this potentially disturbing subject matter into an absurdly entertaining tale of how, some years later, he was clumsily interviewed by the police about this episode. The detectives had read out the full transcripts of several online conversations that he had with this potential abuser. The 14-year-old Sloss’s answers to the groomer’s questions showed, that even then, he had an incisive comic mind.
Sloss has stated that he wants his shows to make people think as well as laugh. His treatment of this sensitive topic and the questions that he poses about the nature of abuse, certainly achieve that aim.
Throughout, he commands the room with a confident, self-possessed poise, based both on his ten years’ experience as a stand-up, and a belief in his undeniable talent as a comedic writer and performer.
He has a way to go if he is to achieve his desire of being regarded as an all-time comedy great by the time he is 45, but this driven, accomplished 27-year-old has the determination and the talent to make such a lofty ambition at least a possibility.
Reviewed on 25 November 2017 | Image: Contributed