Take a dark turn this Comedy Festival with Daniel Sloss's daring show
This is a review of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival season of Now.
Is Daniel Sloss a sociopath? That’s the question at the core of the Scottish comedian’s new show, Now.
When Sloss was just nine years old, he successfully answered a single question that, according to Reader’s Digest, can only be answered by sociopaths. His nan was immediately horrified, but all these years later Sloss has realised the test was mostly bullshit.
It’s clear that although he can be a bit of an asshole – he happily admits that many deaths aren’t tragedies, or even unwelcome – Sloss is not exactly what you’d call a sociopath. But the question offers a brilliant launchpad for him to dive into rants about the evils of pulp in orange juice and the necessity of death. The ‘differences between men and women’ shtick might be the most tired trope in stand-up, but he manages to make it feel mostly fresh by explaining why an unsolicited dick pic might not have quite the same impact as an unsolicited nude from a woman.
Sloss is just 27 years old, but he’s somewhat of a veteran in the comedy world, having started in stand-up at just 17. Spending that time growing up in the spotlight has made Sloss a master craftsman, but it's also given him the ability to fearlessly tread into dark and sensitive areas. He does this mostly successfully in Now, although some kind of content warning might be useful: it’s not difficult to imagine that Sloss’s long description of an incident of child grooming – punctuated by well-judged jokes – could be quite upsetting for some audience members.
But Sloss works best by creating moments of near unbearable tension and then puncturing them with a welcome but unexpectedly sharp barb. To be this good at 27 is a rare thing, and if Sloss can continue to evolve his material in intriguing and novel ways, he could become one of the greats.