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Nothing is Off-Limits: An Interview with Comedian Daniel Sloss

6 November 2017 | Nicola Freedman

One of the UK’s fastest rising comedians, Daniel Sloss is showing no signs of slowing down. Although only twenty-seven, Sloss has already performed nine consecutive sell-out Edinburgh fringe shows, two solo off-Broadway seasons, given a TEDx talk, and toured around the world. We speak with the internationally acclaimed, award-winning comic about his latest tour, working in the States, and why nothing is off-limits.

Hi Daniel, thanks for speaking to Culture Calling today. Breaking into comedy and working as a comedian is notoriously difficult. How did you get started?
 
My mum signed me up to a comedy course, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It was fine, but I didn’t really learn too much from it.
 
You have been performing since your teenage years. Were there any particular challenges of being a young comedian? Any advantages?
 
People don’t expect you to be good because you’re young, so the second you are good you sort of blow their mind. Another advantage is that I don’t have a family, so I can tour constantly and be very selfish in my life and devote all my time to comedy. Disadvantages are that it can take a while before people take you seriously. I had to deal with being the young comedian for a while, but by and large I find it a more positive than negative experience being young – it definitely helps.
 
How has your comedy changed since you started?
 
There is a bit more of a point to it. Back then it was just jokes and gags. I was very much a young comedian trying to do an impression of a comedian, whereas now there is a bit more substance to it. It’s a bit smarter and its matured.
 
Who are your biggest influences, comedians or otherwise?
 
Bill Burr – an American comedian. He writes a new hour every year pretty much, and [Australian comedian] Jim Jefferies is kind of the same. Anyone with a good work ethic like that really.
 
You’ve appeared on ‘Conan’ a record seven times. Do you find that American audiences respond differently to your material?
 
More recently it’s been a bit harder. Trump jokes over there are problematic – I don’t do any, but everyone’s got an opinion. It’s a very tense time right now. They also hate atheist jokes – I still do them but you have to be a bit gentler with the way you approach it.
 
Are you ever inclined then to adjust your material depending on the audience or the country you’re performing in?
 
No, I did that a bit when I was younger and I hated it. If you don’t like my stand-up, fine. Comedy is subjective and my stand-up is not for everyone and I’m fine with that. But I am not changing my material so you enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy my stand-up comedy, then you and I have a very different taste in comedy.
 

 
With the rise of social media, and streaming services such as Netflix, more and more people are watching comedy on their phones, or in the comfort of their home. Do you find that there is still a demand for live comedy?
 
It goes down a bit in the UK. We tour Europe and the audiences get bigger every year and they’re so excited that anyone comes over and does stand up. So yeah, I do think there is still a market for it. I think it’s a bit oversaturated in the UK at the moment - the touring market - but I’m part of the problem with that so I can’t really complain!
 
In addition to your stand-up, you’ve done so many different projects. Is there anything you're still eager to accomplish?
 
Just to become the best that I can be, and to be the best you’ve just got to keep doing it – every year, constantly, all the time. When I was younger, my dream was to make a living out of comedy and I’m now doing that so I think having any other dreams would be a bit selfish.
 
Is there anything in terms of comedy you still haven’t done? A Netflix special?
 
Nah (laughs). I don’t enjoy acting that much and I didn’t get into stand-up comedy to make my way into another industry. I got into stand-up comedy because I love stand-up and it’s what I want to do – I like being on stage in front of a live audience.
 
What are your favourite parts of touring the UK?
 
I mean truly, the answer’s not much (laughs). It’s a lot of travel – I miss my friends and family. But the gigs – the gigs are good. It’s nice to go to places that you’ve never been before and find people that have the same interests as you, and the same sense of humour.
 
For those unfamiliar with your work, what can one expect at your show?
 
If you’ve never seen me, please go on YouTube and watch me first. Because if you’re easily offended or upset by anything, for the love of God stay home! I’ve had people come to my shows and be offended by the swearing - that’s the least offensive part of the show! I’m never offensive for the sake of being offensive – I’m not a shock comic - but I do believe anything can be talked about if it’s done intellectually.  
 
Finally, do you have any advice for aspiring comedians?
 
Do a gig. It doesn’t matter where it is, or how long it is, you just have to learn how to be on stage. There will be an open-mic somewhere, and make sure you nail it because the waiting lists can be very long.
 

Daniel Sloss is currently touring the UK until 9th December 2017. For more information, and to book tickets, please visit livenation.co.uk.
 

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