Daniel Sloss is a man on a mission. Dubbing himself the ‘Steve Irwin of comedy’ he’s on the lookout for the ‘Stingray’ joke that is going to end his career. It won’t be the one we’d expect he says, it will be something innocuous, that starts off about wallpaper.
Nevertheless, he’s clearly relishes the opportunity in front of him to test the audience’s limit. In Sloss’ firing line are the death of the Queen, progressive liberals, magicians, and people who get travel sick. He loves the idea of us discovering that our fellow audience members absolutely hate him; that their discomfort will only serve to make the experience even funnier.
Two Netflix specials have help Sloss hone his act, but he remains a man of two sides; one minute perching on a bar stool like he’s about to break into a set of Frank Sinatra songs, the next, a ball of energy, clowning around the stage.
This is most strongly demonstrated through the lion’s share of his set, which is focused on his experiences of becoming a new father. (Fatherhood was also a key topic of the solid warm-up set by fellow Scot Gareth Waugh and both comics riff on the confusion between a positive pregnancy test and a positive covid test.)
His tongue-in-cheek suggestion that the experience of pregnancy, birth and being suddenly responsible for a tiny human is harder on the dad gets the expected reaction but allows him to reflect on a genuine struggle some men have in initially bonding with their newborns.
It’s an acutely funny observation which Sloss then gleefully undoes by revealing his own moment of overwhelming love comes when he and his son fart in unison. His newfound send of responsibility also doesn’t stop him from imagining drop-kicking his son in disappointment when the ghost of his 17year old self reminds him he can no longer do cocaine at the Edinburgh festival.
It’s quite probable (as recognised earlier by Waugh) that never have so many F and C-bombs been uttered within the confines of the Philharmonic, more accustomed as it is to the strains of orchestras than the potty-mouthed musings of a comedian.
But that doesn’t stop Sloss for a second, as he remarks with a glorious burst of profanity that old-school comedians who complain about supposed censorship from ‘snowflakes’ are just bad at their jobs.
There are occasional US references that may not land with an audience (perhaps a hangover from the Netflix shows) but it’s overall it’s a packed hour that dances the tightrope between whip-smart and puerile, still with the vein of dark humour that has informed his stand-up since he burst onto the scene as a fresh-faced 17year old, full of bravado and know-it-all hubris.
And, as he pulls back the audience from the edge of his sickest jokes with a knowing, self-deprecating smile, it’s clear Sloss’ search for his career-cancelling ‘Stingray’ has some way to go yet.
Reviewer: Lou Steggals
Reviewed: 9th October 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★