“500 breakups, 3 cancelled engagements and the end of one 15-year marriage”—Talking Comedy with Daniel Sloss4 April 2018
Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss has experienced an astonishing rise to prominence as one of the most successful young comedians working today. He’s appeared on Conan a record eight times, sold out ten consecutive seasons at Edinburgh Fringe, and won ‘Best of the Fest’ at the Sydney Comedy Festival in 2016. We talked to him about student comedy, his record for breaking relationships, and how his mum started his career.
This interview has been edited to be concise and for clarity.
The show you’re taking to the festival this year is called Now. Last year was called So, the year before that we had Dark. You’re not giving us much to work with for titles. What can we expect to see in the show itself?
It’s basically me trying to work out whether or not I’m a sociopath. It’s my rebuttal to the claims that I’m a sociopath.
Because a lot of your humour in the past has been trying to undermine the ‘offensiveness’ conversation that keeps coming up in comedy. You’ve actively rejected that.
Yeah after my show last year I’d broken up so many couples that people started accusing me of being a sociopath. I spoke about love and relationships and people started letting me know that I’d made sense to them and that they’d broken up with their partners. I think my tally now is over 500 breakups, three cancelled engagements and the end of one 15-year marriage.
So for this year’s show will you be trying to reject that claim or lean into it?
Not necessarily reject, but I have a general rule: If 3 people accuse you of being something, you should have a check. So I thought I’d look into it and find out a little more.
Onto the show itself, will you be doing the full month? And where else might we see you while you’re in Melbourne?
Yeah the full month. I’ll be doing some little spots in other places, but I’m very lazy, so I’ll do my show and then I’ll just lurk. The thing I love about this festival is that I’ve been coming to Australia for so many years, so I have friends over here.
How many years have you done Melbourne?
This is only my third year at the comedy festival, but I’ve been coming to Australia for 8 years.
You got your start running around Edinburgh, and you actually put off university to go and do comedy. Would it be fair to say uni was your back up plan? How did that feel to you going the opposite way a lot of others have gone?
It was my mum. I started doing stand-up when I was 16-17 and I started doing quite well on the Scottish circuit. So I got out of high school and into uni and my mum said “Look, you can always go back to uni. Some people take gap years and travel the world to discover themselves. Why don’t you focus a year into stand-up and see what happens?” So I did, and by the time that year had gone by I’d just started my first ever Edinburgh show.
A lot of people try to do stand-up while also doing degrees. Do you run into a lot of student comics?
Yeah a lot of young people in comedy are getting degrees or are still working and I wish them all the best. I’m glad I took the year off to focus on it. I think, had I been at university, I would’ve got too distracted with drinking and sex. But because I was still living at home with my parents I thought ‘fuck it I’ll give this all I’ve got to make it work’.
Do you think if you had gone to university you’d be in the place you are now?
I think so, but I do think it would’ve changed my focus. I would’ve been studying for other things and making new friends as opposed to working on comedy. My mum works at home, so every morning at 9am she’d wake me up and drag me downstairs to the study and I’d sit across from her and work. She said “If you’re gonna do this as a job you’ve gotta treat it like a fucking job.”
So you’d be spending all day writing jokes and going out to do gigs at night?
Not gigging every night, but just writing and gigging as much as I can really.
Where might we be seeing you going forward? You’ve done some TV in the past, will there be a lot more of that or will you be sticking to the stand-up for now?
I do like the TV stuff. I enjoy working on television but I’ll be going home when I’m done with the festival. That’s when I’ll start writing my new show. A show a year is my general rule.
Daniel Sloss is performing as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.