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Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss kicks off the final leg of his X tour this week, rounding off an almost two-year jaunt that has seen the comic perform to hundreds of thousands of fans across the world.
The conclusion of the tour caps off a remarkable rise for the stand-up, who over the past two years has seen his popularity grow exponentially, becoming one of the artform’s hottest tickets.
Daniel’s rise is in part down to Netflix releasing two of his specials, Dark and Jigsaw in 2018, exposing the comedian to the streaming behemoth’s huge global audience.
Not an overnight success by any stretch, Sloss has been grinding for nearly a decade, honing his craft in comedy clubs across the UK and abroad.
Ahead of the completion of his latest tour X, we spoke to the stand-up about the show, how his life has changed because of Netflix and what the biggest lessons he’s learned in his career so far are.
How are you feeling about kicking off your new UK tour dates this week?
I’ve had six weeks off, it’s been amazing. I’ve just been doing absolutely nothing – I’m very good at doing nothing – and because I’m doing 300 performances of this show it’s been nice to have the time off. I’m excited to get back to it because it’s been the longest break I’ve had in literally years, so I think I’m actually going to be sort of rejuvenated in the performance.
It’s exciting because now my career is at a different level and that’s fun. My tours are not playing to 70 seaters in Wolverhampton anymore, which wasn’t a bad thing, but I got to play the London Palladium twice last year, and the Edinburgh Playhouse, all 3,200 seats of it, for three nights just recently in August. That’s ridiculous. The aspect of playing to that many people is wild.
But then again, I have just got back into playing World of Warcraft so… I wouldn’t mind staying at home.
No, I’m looking forward to it because it’s the last leg of what is essentially a 300-date, 18-month tour, it’s good to be seeing that out.
What do you think the shows will offer to your fans?
It’s my usual… I’ll make you laugh for about an hour and then for no reason, I’ll make you sad about 75 minutes in. My opinions on the world, “taboo topics”. This year’s show is about toxic masculinity, the #MeToo movement and sexual assault – and other fun subjects. Just my opinions, rants and it’s funny.
It’s my best show yet. I say that every year because that’s how improving works. People say, “Oh you always say it’s your best show” – yeah that’s because the year I don’t, that’s the year I should quit. The year it’s not as good as last year’s show is the year it’s over, and I go back to my old job as a paintball referee.
Where does your latest material draw influence from?
This year’s show is about toxic masculinity, the #MeToo movement, sexual assault, homophobia. It’s not about those things in general, it’s about how those things affect me and my thoughts on them. Not necessarily my correct thoughts. I like talking about things that people find uncomfortable to talk about, I think that the only reason topics have power is because people don’t talk about them.
It’s the same reason swear words have power – it’s because f*****g losers get offended. If no one got offended by the word c**t, I would never use the word c**t. Well, that’s not true, it’s a fun word to say.
I draw my material from stuff that I’m passionate about. I find it very hard to write about things I don’t care about, but it’s very hard to perform jokes where you don’t give a s**t about the subject. It’s relatively easy to do a performance 300 times and not be passionate in each reiteration of telling the joke but if you’re passionate about the subject, it’s easier to draw on that. It feels more honest to talk about things that I care about.
That being said, there’s a bunch of p**s and s**t jokes in there as well. If people saw my stand-up and then saw what I actually laugh at in real life… the juxtaposition is massive.
How, if at all, has your life changed since the release of your Netflix specials?
Oh, it has changed entirely. I’m a celebrity. What next? It’s brilliant.
No, it’s absolutely changed my career. It’s nothing I wouldn’t have eventually achieved; it’s just brought all that forward by 10 years. It takes years and years and years to crack America and I’ve been working and gigging there for about seven years. You know, I used to be able to play to about 150 seats in LA, then I’d be able to do comedy clubs over the weekend maybe sell about 500-600 tickets there, and now I can sell out a four-week run in New York. We went to 25 different states, places I’ve never been to before in my life. We had 1,200 people in Nashville. Chicago was sold out weeks in advance – it was mental. That’s absolutely down to Netflix because it has that reach.
I get to play Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and that’s Netflix. I’ve always been able to tour in the UK, Europe, Australia because I’ve been working hard in those places for 10 years, but it’s doubled or tripled venue sizes everywhere.
It’s infinitely made me more of an arrogant a******e. Anyone who says that success is humbling is a liar. If you ever see a celebrity saying it’s really humbling, trust me it’s not. I think I’m a god and that’s not manageable. I’m going to crash and burn soon but for now, I’m just a big old narcissist having a fantastic time.
What do you think is the biggest lesson you have learned as a stand-up?
Joke about anything. Everything is funny. Literally, everything is funny. If you can’t laugh about s**t, that says more about you than it does about me.
There’s a smugness to certain people. They think people who laugh at certain things are stupid or evil asking, “how can you laugh about these things”? And whenever they say it, they think they’re better than you because they can’t laugh at these things. Whereas laughter is very, very human and to be able to laugh at dark things requires such a level of emotional intelligence. You’re joking about something that is a sad topic or a horrible topic – death is a horrible thing we all experience – being able to laugh or make jokes that make others laugh about death, that requires intelligence.
What laughter is…they found out the lowest form of an animal that can laugh is a rat. If you tickle a rat’s belly it’ll laugh. Scientists worked out that’s the lowest form of laughter, but why is the rat laughing? The reason the rat is laughing is that any other time if anything was scratching its belly, a cat or an eagle or whatever, this thing would be trying to kill it. It’s terrifying, it’s the worst moment of the rat’s life but you’re doing a safe version of the dangerous thing. That’s what laughter is, it’s a safe violation.
Basically, don’t deal with people who can’t take jokes. Some people were not put on this earth to laugh so don’t engage with them. I think laughter’s the most important thing in the world.
What’s the one thing you can’t go on tour without?
Kai Humphries. I wouldn’t tour with anyone else. That’s not true, I love going on tour with Gareth Waugh, he’s good fun. Me and Kai have toured together for so long, we’ve never fallen out. We know how to be in each other’s company, we will go days without saying a word to each other and we’re fine with that. Kai once did a test on tour to see if he didn’t start a conversation with me, how long it would take me to start a conversation with him. He told me about the experiment three days later. I asked him “when he did it”? He was like, “We woke up at 5 a.m. as we had to fly to Sweden and the first word of the day that you said to me was just before I was about to go on stage at night”. I said: “Don’t f**k it up, loser” just as he walked on stage.
I asked him, “really”? And he said: ‘We didn’t say a word, we went in a car, we sat beside each other on a plane”. – I sleep on planes. Me and Kai can not say anything for hours, but we can talk for hours on end. We don’t fight. Considering we spend 24 hours a day in each other’s company a lot of the time.
Also, weed. When you go to America, every single one of those c***s smokes weed, so you come off stage and so there are fans who bring you a joint for after the show and you’re like “I physically can’t smoke this all”, but because I grew up in Scotland where there’s not that much weed, well, you know…
Kai and weed.
What’s your No.1 tip for staying in hotels across the country?
Treat yourself. Absolutely treat yourself. If you’re in a job where you’re staying in a lot of hotels, it becomes very easy to find that mundane and boring and it’s not. I don’t do it all the time but there’s nothing I love more than being in a kinda posh hotel, just having the night off with room service, I’ll order a steak and a full bottle of red, and I’ll just get c****d and watch Netflix.
Hotels are good. You don’t have to talk have to anyone. It’s pure you time. You’ve got this room to yourself that someone else is going to clean. You don’t have to get dressed, you can just sit in bed and jerk off all day and just be disgusting. It’s brilliant, I love hotels. You have a bath; you never have a bath in the real world. I’d never have a bath when I was at home but for some reason, when you’re in a hotel you’re like “ooh it’s got bubble bath”. Treat yourself otherwise you get bored of it.
Here are Daniel Sloss’ upcoming tour dates:
2 October 2019 – Anson Rooms, Bristol
3 October 2019 – Vicar Street, Dublin
4 October 2019 – Charter, Colchester
6 October 2019 – Ironworks, Inverness
10 October 2019 – Tyne Theatre, Newcastle
11 October 2019 – De Montford Hall, Leicester
12 October 2019 – Engine Shed, Lincoln
28 November 2019 – Corn Exchange, Ipswich
29 November 2019 – Lighthouse, Kettering
6 December 2019 – Brighton Dome
7 December 2019 – Nuffield, Southampton
12 December 2019 – Liverpool Guild of Students – Mountford Hall
13 December 2019 – O2 Academy Birmingham
14 December 2019 – Alhambra, Dunfermline
Tickets are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk