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Daniel Sloss: X at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

2018 Daniel Sloss by Troy Edige
2018 Daniel Sloss by Troy Edige

“I love kids,” begins Daniel Sloss, in X, his tenth solo show, a remarkable achievement for anyone, but all the more so for Sloss, reaching the milestone at the age of 27. There are certain phrases, he asserts, like “l love kids” that provoke an adverse response from some quarters, who jump to conclusions and assume that there’s some Jimmy Savile-esque thought process going on. Sloss loves his mum, too, but that doesn’t mean there’ll be any bedroom activity in that department.

This is the kind of edgy tension that Sloss likes to go for. Coupled with an ability to deftly spin a narrative about, for example, what happens when a straight man tells another straight man that he loves him, the result is a fearless and triumphant venture into the controversial. Yes, there are times when the Pentland Theatre at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (as plush and as roomy as it sounds – it’s one of the few Fringe venues where standing to let others pass down the row is wholly unnecessary) falls silent, but this is an audience intently listening, hanging on every word.

Sloss knows this, and even talks about his position as a straight white man, which automatically makes other straight white men want to listen to him, “because I look like them”. And so, he spins a narrative about what happened to a female friend. He asked prior permission to recount a story of sexual assault, which he was given, though she did point out, in a deadpan manner, that her permission has never been required for anything anyway – a line which brought the house down, and in one line, said so much about what the #MeToo movement is trying to achieve.

And then he goes for it: men have simply got to do better to speak up and act if they see anything untoward. Don’t ignore the problem, rather deal with it. In the hands of a lesser talented entertainer, this sort of subject matter could be quite disastrous material in a stand-up show. Here, it is one of those moments that left me utterly mesmerised. A fellow theatregoer summed it up perfectly, with just a simple “wow”.

Before that, though, there are ridiculously blokey stories to enjoy. One is about a game of hide and seek played with his goddaughter; she believes Sloss invented hide and seek, purely because he told her he did, though her interpretation of ‘hiding’ is unique, to say the least. Another is about sex education, which teaches mechanics but not emotions, and then there was a hilarious exploration of how tampons and sanitary pads work.

It’s a new world, or at least a changing one, and Sloss is doing his best to stop using the term ‘gay’ as a putdown, as in, “That’s so gay”. He comes to the defence of the older generations, who largely give responses to questions within the frames of references that they have. But this too is used to comic effect, virtually lampooning anyone (of any age) who likes doesn’t bother to get themselves seen by a doctor if something is untoward.

There’s an assured confidence in a slick and genuinely witty performance. To make an audience laugh heartily through what is billed as a comedy show is one thing. But to preach, as it were, without coming across as preachy – that takes considerable skill. Pure genius.

5 Star Rating

Review by Chris Omaweng

New show from internationally acclaimed, award-winning Scottish stand-up star of Conan (x8), Edinburgh Fringe (x10), off-Broadway seasons (x3) and two Netflix specials (2018).

Twitter: @daniel_sloss

Daniel Sloss: X Venue: PLEASANCE at EICC (Venue 150)
(not Monday 13 + 20 August)
Times: 7pm (60 mins)
Venue tickets: https://www.pleasance.co.uk/


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