October 22, 2017

Profits and Sloss

Article from the Sunday Herald, 11th March 2012

His line of work, after all, is one in which the ability to charm someone into bed by making them laugh is well documented – otherwise how do you explain the notches of professional lothario Russell Brand, or that David Walliams married a supermodel? Sloss, though, isn’t entirely convinced. “Since I started doing a bit of telly, I have had some female attention,” he concedes. “But when I say female attention, I mean girls between the ages of 12 and 17. I think it’s because I have a cute face.” The Donny Osmond appeal? “Exactly. It’s the cute face and the Bieber hair. I see them in the audience and they are laughing away, but there is no doubt in my mind that it’s not so much my jokes as the flick of the hair that gets them.”

Sloss, who made his stand-up debut at the age of 16, is gearing up to perform at the Glasgow International Comedy Festival this month. In five short years he has garnered an impressive CV including appearances on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and The Paul O’Grady Show. He has starred in his own BBC Three sitcom The Adventures Of Daniel, written material for Frankie Boyle on Mock The Week and sold out three Edinburgh Festival Fringe seasons – all before he started to shave. Most recently he completed a 70-date UK tour and has performed across Europe, Australia and South-East Asia.

But back to Sloss and his wooing ability. “I wasn’t a guy who got female attention in high school,” he concedes woefully. “I couldn’t talk to girls. I was confident, but I wasn’t a douche bag. Unless you are an a*******, girls don’t pay you any attention. Put me in a room with 3000 people and tell me to make them laugh, and I won’t bat an eyelid. Put me in front of one girl I have never met before and tell me to say hi, and I will s*** my pants.”

Yet, in sharp contrast, onstage he oozes colossal self-confidence. Sloss has no qualms about tackling topics less brave comedians would shirk from: one of his most infamous routines sees him describe how his brother tricked him into miming an act of oral intimacy to their mother. Given his teenage ascension in the comedy business, many of his early gags centred on his age. That’s about to change, he says. Since turning 21 last September, Sloss has undergone a real coming of age. He recently flew the coop of his parental home in Fife to move into his own flat in Roseburn, Edinburgh with best friend Ally, a “sweet, gentle, beardy guy” who “works in Poundland or the 99p shop, something like that, as a shelf-stacker”.

His comedy material is also evolving. “My new stuff is bit darker,” he says. “When I say darker, people automatically think Jim Jeffries or Frankie Boyle. That’s not what I mean. I would never want to offend anyone, but I am quite an angry person deep down.” Sloss has been collaborating on material with Canadian comedian Tom Stade. “He is making me do the comedy I have always wanted, but was too scared to do,” he says. “I feel I’m on my way to shedding this skin and becoming a newer comic.”

Is he trying to project a more mature persona away from his self-confessed “half-man, half-Xbox” image? “I’m addicted to the Xbox. That is me,” he insists. “I still am a massive child and I will be until I’m 35 – until I’m 55.”

This year’s Glasgow International Comedy Festival will see Sloss record his first live DVD – for which he received “a very good advance” – featuring a “greatest hits” of his gags. “I first did my show, The Joker, at the Fringe last year. This show is called The Joker, too, but I’m going to make it a best-of using my favourite jokes from the past four years. It’s a good way to retire material.”

The eldest of four children, Sloss was born in London and his family moved to Kirkcaldy, Fife, when he was five. His mother Lesley, 43, is an environmental consultant, his father Martyn, 48, a computer programmer. He has two younger brothers, Matthew, 11, and Jack, nine. His younger sister Josie, who had cerebral palsy, passed away when she was seven and Sloss nine.

Asked about memories of his sister, Sloss says: “It was obviously a really s*** thing to happen.” He pauses, gathering his thoughts. “My mum always says she knew then I was going to be a comedian because I immediately started making jokes. Not about the situation, but because I wanted people to laugh again. I couldn’t handle the sadness. What I remember is her laugh more than anything. She had a smile that could light up a room. I like that kind of laughter, that invigorates everyone and cheers them up.”

Despite the age gap between him and his brothers, they are close, he says. It’s a pity they are still too young to go to gigs, I muse. Sloss shakes his head. “Oh, they come,” he says. “Parents are idiots. I don’t know what you get injected with when you become a parent that makes you forget you were ever a child. All these parents saying: ‘Oh my God, they were talking about sex on television and my 10-year-old son was watching’. Your son has known about sex since he was eight. Fact. Or when people say: ‘I would never swear in front of my kids’. Why not? Kids love swearing. Nothing makes my two younger brothers laugh more than the word ‘d***head’.”

His own indoctrination into the world of comedy came aged 10 when his father took him to gigs at the Fringe. “I remember one night a guy on a club door said: ‘I can’t let your son in, there is going to be adult material and swearing.’ My dad turned to me and said: ‘S**, b****, c***, f***’, then to the guy: ‘He knows them all now, can we come in?'”

Sloss loves swearing. “My earliest memory of swearing was being five and writing ‘f***’ on the underside of a table,” he says. “When my mum found it, I cried. I was nine when I discovered

the true power of swearing. I do swear a lot – although it upsets my grandparents, so I try to tone it down when I’m with them.”

Is it true his mother got him a fake ID to help get into clubs to do gigs? Sloss laughs. “She did, but it was a very bad ID. It was essentially “I am 18″ drawn in with a crayon. It was dreadful, but it worked.”

His rising star means that being recognised is an increasing occupational hazard. “Most of the time it’s the loveliest thing in the world,” he says. “Obviously you are going to get some a*******s, that comes with the territory. They are looking for a reaction and I don’t give them one. I’m not a fighter. I would like to say ‘I’m a lover, not a fighter’, but I’m not much of a lover either,” he deadpans. “If someone thinks I’m s***, that’s fine. I have been started on in a nightclub. Someone tried to fight me for reasons still unknown to me.”

Given his earlier admission, it’s safe to say he’s not dating anyone at the moment? “No, and I won’t be for a very long time,” confirms Sloss. “I signed a contract with my mates. I’m not allowed to get into a relationship for two years. I’m not allowed to get married until I’m 33. My flatmate Ally tried to sign it too but he’s such a soppy piece of crap he will find someone and fall in love. I’ve been in relationships since I was 16. I have never been single.” So he’s a serial monogamist? “No, there were healthy breaks in between. My ex-girlfriend and I broke up just before the Festival. It was the nicest break-up I’ve ever had, it was completely mutual. We didn’t hate each other, we just, sadly, fell out of love.” Sloss swills the ice in his glass of water as if nursing a whisky. “She was brilliant, a law student, smart and gorgeous. I thought: ‘Well, if I’m not going to end up with her for the rest of my life …'” He trails off and shrugs.

He refutes the notion of being burned by love. “No, not at all,” he exclaims. “I just don’t think you can ever be successful in a relationship until you have been successful being single. If you have been single for several years, then you know when you are ready to settle down.”

It’s a mature outlook for a 21-year-old, I venture. “I definitely want to get married and have kids, I want a daughter more than anything else in the world,” he enthuses. “I just think that, if I’m going to get into a relationship, I want it to be the real thing. Everyone is so scared of being alone. They get into relationships too fast. The way I see it, life is fun until you are 35 or 36, once it gets dull, get married and have kids, make it more interesting.”

And that’s not the only blow to the ladies. “The hair is being cut after the DVD,” Sloss reveals. “I have had it this way since I was 15 and do like it, but want to go back to shorter hair.” What if he loses his comic prowess like Samson lost his power in the biblical fable? A frown crosses his face. “I hope my comedy is more than just my hair,” he asserts.

As for onwards and upwards, asked if he sees himself following in footsteps of the likes of Craig Ferguson – who did stand-up, went into film and is now a successful chat show host in the US with The Late Late Show – Sloss shakes his head. “I don’t think so. If, for the next five years, my life is just gig, Fringe, tour, repeat, I’m more than happy with that. I want to be a stand-up comedian for the rest of my life. I’m not using stand-up as a stepping stone to something else. Stand-up is the island. It’s exactly where I want to be. It’s my paradise.”

Daniel Sloss – The Joker is at the King’s Theatre as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival on March 31, www.glasgowcomedyfestival.com. He also plays the Tolbooth, Stirling on March 15. His DVD will be out later this year