Scottish-born comedian Daniel Sloss can brag about the rare distinction of being one of the few comics to release two comedy specials on Netflix at once: the ironically titled Dark and the deeply personal Jigsaw. It's a claim reserved for a handful of comedians, like James Acaster, Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle.
Sloss' comedy specials, though, were released on his birthday.
"I was thrilled to get a Netflix deal, of course," Sloss says of the release. "It's one of the biggest companies in the world, and we'd been working on it for five years. I was over the moon. Then I got to the release date, and I was like, 'Whatever you want to do,' and they were like, 'We're going to release them on your birthday.'"
The problem is that Sloss' birthday falls on Sept. 11.
"I was like, 'What? How should I plug this?'" he says. "Best 9/11 ever?"
Sloss may sound and talk like a dark comedian, but his comedy can reach to a much deeper and eye-opening place if you're willing to look at those dark corners of life with him. He's currently touring with his latest show, X, that includes a stop this Friday at The Majestic.
"Without giving the ending away, the topics I cover in this one is rape and sexual assault, and it's difficult to fucking talk about," he says. "I'm not making jokes about victims. I talk about making jokes about the situation, and that's a minefield because bare minimum, 50% of my audience have been assaulted one way or another. It's something that's a genuine experience for most of them, and I haven't gone through it myself. The last people I want to upset are survivors. It's the polar opposite of the reaction I want to get but it happens nonetheless."
Sloss relishes the challenge of getting people to laugh at difficult subjects, the way a mountain climber keeps tackling bigger land masses with only a pickax, some rope and a dream. He doesn't set out to deliberately offend. Laughter may always be his first goal, but Sloss also wants his audiences to think, especially about things that make them uncomfortable.
"I like the dark stuff, I do," he says. "I like looking in on myself. Fundamentally, I'm a good person, but I'm deeply flawed as we all are in this world where we're living on Instagram and celebrity and we're painting ourselves as perfect, which is dangerous because we have that much further to fucking fall."
Sloss' comedy tries to wipe away the veneer of perfection that many think they should strive to reflect, when in reality it's what clouds them from learning honest things about themselves, and even the whole of humanity.
"Thinking bad things and doing bad things are two different things," he says. "I like the idea of saying, 'Let's look at how fucked up we are.'"
Sloss also welcomes the dialogue prompted by his material. He says that shitty comics often take the jokes of bigger comics who tackle tough subjects, and also take these at face value, mistakenly thinking that the punchline lies in reveling in cruelty. Sloss, on the other hand, says he genuinely wants people to have a good time.
"It's one of the reasons I like to stick around after the show at the stage door and meet anyone who wants to talk to me," he says. "I'm not trying to censor myself in any way, but I do want people who've gone through things I'm talking about to see if I missed anything. Feedback is always great."
The only complaint Sloss can't understand comes from people who get offended by jokes, who say that certain subjects should be ignored by comedians. Being labeled as a dark comedian is a misnomer that he's tried to shake, even after some failed to pick up on the not-so-subtle pretense for the title of his special, Dark.
"I called the show Dark ironically because I was being sick of being called it," Sloss says. "I don't think I am. It's a label that fucking pussies give me. I'm just talking about taboo subjects, but the only reason it's a taboo subject is because people make it taboo. They give it that power. We should be able to talk about everything. We should be able to joke about everything. That's life."
Sloss backs up his philosophy by turning the spotlight on his own life and talking about subjects others might find difficult, like his hilarious stories about his memories and the loss of his sister Josie, who had cerebral palsy.
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"I think the most arrogant thing is — and this is coming from a very arrogant man — but the most arrogant thing is to become offended by comedy, to sit in a room of 500 people and to say that comedian said that to upset me," Sloss says. "I don't know who you are. I didn't write this joke knowing you existed."
Pushing himself and his comedy is the only way to get good and become one of the greats, a goal he says he wanted to achieve since he was a kid who loved comedy and discovered comics like Bill Hicks at a young age.
Sloss says the end game isn't about acting or becoming famous doing something other than comedy. He's doing comedy to do comedy, and he's on his way to having the ability to do it for a long time.
"Honestly, this tour itself has been a fucking dream come true," Sloss says. "Everyone wants to tour America, especially as a British person and it's not an easy feat. Now that I'm doing it and it's going very, very well and don't get me wrong, I could do with a fucking break real soon. That being said, it's still everything I want to get better at it. I want to keep doing this."