From Estonia to Enmore, these jokes travel
Language is no barrier for this Scottish comedian, writes Chris Hook
While his school mates came back from their gap year sporting South-East Asian suntans, Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss racked up his West End debut.
That was back in 2009, just a year after he’d made his Edinburgh Fringe debut at the age of 18, having begun his comedy career two years before that when he was just 16. It’s success he can directly attribute to his mum’s advice.
“I got accepted into university and then my mum said that some people take a gap year between high school and university to go travel the world and find themselves. ‘How about, instead of finding yourself, you just do comedy for a year and see where it takes you,’ ” the now 25year-old Sloss recalls.
Since then, it has taken him across the world, including almost annual visits to Australia. He’s back again next month for the Sydney Comedy Festival with his show Dark at the Enmore Theatre on May 13. While Scloss’s comedy is not especially topical or political, it is quite philosophical. “When I started, I was very much doing what I called porridge comedy, which is fine and does the job, but there’s not really any substance to it,” he says. “As I got older I realised the comedians I really enjoyed weren’t preachy comedians, but they did offer their take on the world, and I enjoyed that. “It should never take
priority over making the audience laugh, but I do like making them think, so not leaving with a life-changing message — I’m not one of those comics who has an important theme all the way through — but I do like people to think, and to get them to question their opinions, swish them around like a glass of wine and mull it over.”
There’s certainly a universality to his schtick. Regular visits stateside have seen the young Scotsman rack up half a dozen appearances on Conan, and he is a familiar face on TV at home in Britain, too. All of which is allowing him to build an audience well beyond the English-speaking world — in the likes of Serbia, Croatia, Austria, Finland, Lithuania and Estonia.
“I sell bigger rooms in Estonia than I do in some parts of England — the first time I went there I sold 480 seats more than two weeks in advance and I was just thinking, ‘Who are you people?’” he recalls.
“But they binge-watch YouTube and they love British and American comedy and because I’ve done so many Conan appearances, they see all that. So I had no idea I had an audience there but they’re some of the best gigs I’ve ever had — if I do another live DVD, I’d love to do it in Lithuania.
“I think if I was more topical or political it wouldn’t work as well but my comedy is about being a dickhead, so it really travels.”
Daniel Sloss: Dark, Enmore Theatre, Enmore Rd, Newtown; May 13, $24.90-$39.90, sydneycomedyfest.com.au
Funny man Daniel Sloss. Picture: Nicole Garmston