Interview: Daniel Sloss
At 21, Daniel Sloss is a precocious comic talent tipped for big things. MARK NICHOLLS speaks to the fast-rising young comedian ahead of his appearance at the Norwich Arts Centre.
It shouldn't be an age thing with Daniel Sloss, but somehow it still is.
The young comic has enjoyed an amazing rise to stardom, becoming the first to do this, and the youngest to do that… but that's getting to be something of an old joke now he's turned 21.
Having studied acting since he was eight, set up his own comedy club for a year, been doing stand-up from the age of 16, his first Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2008, as well as being the youngest comedian to perform a solo season in London's West End, Daniel is at least half way round the comic block now.
He remains acutely aware of his meteoric success but when you talk to him, it is all tempered by wise waves of modesty.
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Probably not the sort of sensible image that sits with a young joker described as Scotland's hormone-ridden half-man-half-Xbox comic prodigy, a reference adequately supported by his enthusiasm for computer games.
Yet this is a young man enjoying his big break and determined to make the most of it, having foregone a place at Dundee University to try his hand as a professional comedian.
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When he arrives at Norwich Arts Centre next week on the latest leg of his 50-date tour as 'The Joker' with his Geordie mate Kai Humphries, he'll be well into his stride.
When he spoke to me he was polishing off the Scottish leg before setting his toe over the border in Gateshead and heading south.
Born in Kingston upon Thames, but now with a proud Scottish accent, he said: 'I do regard myself as Scottish as I have lived there since I was four. But I am looking forward to playing in places that I have never been to before such as Norwich.'
So what can the audience expect from The Joker?
'If you come along to my shows, you are not going to learn anything and you won't get a new lease of life,' he admits. 'That is not my job, I am 21 years old so I hardly have the life experience for that but just come along and enjoy good old-fashioned stand-up.
'There will be plenty of jokes and my show will evolve throughout the tour and if something funny happens to me along the way, don't worry I'll be telling the audience about it.'
He cites his home in Fife and family as two natural sources of inspiration for his material but in another first, he's just moved into a place of his own with his best friend… and then headed off on a lengthy tour with no time to enjoy his new flat.
But there is a confidence about Daniel and a stage presence combined with this desire to learn and grow as a comic.
'I just love being on stage,' he said, 'it is the best kind of addiction and, as with Kai, it is great being on stage every night.
'For me, doing so many shows over such a short period of time is such a great comic learning experience – it improves my comedy 10-fold. I am not there yet as a comedian and hope to be so much better in five years' time as there is just so much for me to learn about comedy.'
He looks to the older comics for influence – Jack Dee, Mark Lamarr and the like.
'I've been doing comedy clubs for a few years and playing to the same audiences as the older comedians. But I hope to get younger people in to my shows too, even those aged 12 to 16. It is funny to see the reactions though, especially when I start talking about sex.
'The parents look so worried about what their children are 'learning' but the reality is, it's not the kids that are learning. They know it all already, it's more a case of the parents who are learning more about what their kids really do know about.
'But I do want to grow as a comedian and get my opinions across, though not in an aggressive way. I don't want to sound like I am preaching.'
So does he get heckled, or do the audience treat him with 'kid gloves'?
'People do probably see that I am young so they don't heckle me so much. But my shows are like my house; I like to invite people in and let them have a look around and have fun but if they do bad things or try to wreck the place I will turn on them,' said Daniel.
'Most hecklers are not aggressive, just enjoying being part of the show and after all they have paid to see me.'
The reviewers have been kind to Daniel – 'precociously talented', 'a consummate comedian' – and he admits: 'I am still amazed by how quickly things have happened for me.'
Yes, he's appeared on Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow, 8 Out of 10 Cats, The Rob Brydon Show, made a sell-out return to the Sydney Comedy Festival in March and then embarked on a tour across South East Asia with fellow comic Craig Hill.
But you sense that taking on the country on a 50-date tour is another early highpoint in a young man with a long career ahead of him.