Star rating: ***
Daniel Sloss – Dark
Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) – Venue 150
Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2015
20:40pm Daily – 7th-31st August 2015. Tickets £10.
Review date: Sunday 8th August 2015
Daniel Sloss is all over Edinburgh this month. On posters, buses, everywhere. For this reason I just had to see what all the fuss was about. His Edinburgh Fringe show was sold out on the night I went to attend but fortunately, we managed to get a couple of spare tickets for free. Result!
One thing you can say about him is that he is a highly confident, funny and assured young comedian. This confidence in himself, his opinions and his undoubted comedic ability belies his youthful age of just 24 years.
However the show got off to a strangely awkward, negative and downbeat start. Completely of Daniel’s own doing. He opened proceedings by reading out a letter of complaint from an attendee from a previous tour of his. This was not just any email, but a 6 page missive! Whilst the complainer said he enjoyed 2/3 of the show, he passionately complained about the final 15 minutes when Daniel criticised God and Christians, emphasising that he is an avowed atheist who simply doesn’t believe in God. Daniel quoted a lot of statistics, which he seemed to misinterpret to support his argument. These didn’t seem true to me, certainly not in the way he delivered them and made out that Britain is not a Christian set of countries anymore.
This time he thought he’d be smart and get his religion and Christianity attack in at the start of the show … perhaps hoping we’d forget it by the end of the show.
This seemed flawed on so many levels. I recall him saying that 60% of the population in Christian – which we can agree on, but he went on to try and reduce and negate this figure in various ways to show there were far less people of faith than that. That might be true in Scotland, however as far as I know, and I may be wrong of course, but the last official figures were those from the 2011 Census for England and Wales, which stated:
59.3% of the usual resident population (33.2 million people) identified as Christian. Muslims made up the second largest religious group with 4.8% of the population (2.7 million people). A quarter of the population (14.1 million people) reported they had no religion.
If you add the 7% (religion not stated) & 4% (other religion) = 75% of the population believed in God.
This means there is a good chance that, assuming his audience is a cross section of the British population (and in fact Fringe shows tend to attract a more international audience and many countries are a lot more religious than ours) 60-75% of his audience would likely be offended by this. So why do it? I don’t see Christian comedians trying to impose their beliefs upon their audiences?
He complains in the press that the media misunderstands him, referring to his shows as ‘dark’, giving this show its title, yet this is precisely what he has done in this show and with this opening salvo, opening on a negative note to further his own proud atheist agenda.
It was interesting he didn’t ask the audience for its opinion on all this. So basically we had a one sided controversial view espoused and no invitation for audience interaction. Even just to affirm his righteousness might have been good and is normally the way these things go. Maybe he was afraid to get into debate.
Lastly on this point, if God doesn’t exist in Daniel’s world as there is no such being, then I wonder what the point was of devoting the all important opening of his show and a good 15 minutes at that to one letter of complaint about someone and something he doesn’t believe in. Like Daniel on this subject it doesn’t really make sense.
I may be wrong here of course, but I think the reason for this lies in what happened in his childhood. He suffered the tragic bereavement of his sister Jo,7, when he was just 9 years old. With both his parents being atheists it’s little wonder that parental loss on top of that loss would cause him to lose any faith in the almighty. However is it really sensible to allow a decision his 9 year old self arrived at to remain the same and therefore control the rest of his life?
This key moment was central to the show and key to understanding the man Daniel became. He mentioned finding something funny to say shortly after being told about her death. From his account, in the midst of this personal tragedy, Daniel Sloss the young comedian was born.
There’s a segment in the show when he blatantly says there is humour to be found in death and to be fair he does, for want of a better phrase, find gallows humour in death that was funny and went down very well with the audience as it wasn’t quite as dark as it sounds written down.
Sex and Relationships
On the subject of sex and relationships he told some extremely funny tales of ‘sexy time’ gone wrong and his despair over a pal moving in with his girlfriend and the implications for him and his mate. He painted original, vivid and memorable scenes that will live long in the memory.
Daniel peppered his set with far too much un-necessary swearing for my liking. Nonetheless, when he’s not pushing questionable, negative and one sided views on religion and faith he is an extremely funny man.
Review © Tiemo Talk of the Town
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