With Netflix’s help, audiences are getting to know Scottish comic Daniel Sloss
Daniel Sloss is thankful for Netflix. Audiences heading to see the Scottish comedian at the Wilbur Theatre March 2 are likely familiar with his two 2018 specials, “Dark” and “Jigsaw.” That’s a relief to Sloss. It means the crowds will already understand his sense of humor, which can be profane and incendiary.
In “Dark,” he talked about dealing with the loss of his sister when he was younger. In “Jigsaw,” he takes aim at religion. “Understand, by the way, if you subscribe to any faith whatsoever, I 100 percent respect your right to have that belief,” he says in the special. “But you also have to understand, at no point do I ever actually have to respect your belief.”
In his new stage show, “X,” he explores his experiences with masculinity and the #MeToo movement. To address tough subjects, he says, it helps if the audience already knows him. “To say some of the things I’ve got to say, you have to understand when I’m joking and when I’m [expletive] not,” he says. “There’s a lot of nuance in it. The new show is probably the [expletive] darkest one I’ve done. It’s good in that sense — they know what to expect.”
Netflix has been a big help in selling tickets, too. When reached by Skype for this interview, Sloss was finishing up a 30-show run of full houses off-Broadway. The subsequent tour that brings him to Boston was originally planned to end in May but will now take him through the summer, with new US dates expected after a run in Australia. “Before, there was never a chance we could have ever toured America,” he says.
The last time Sloss played Boston was in 2014 when he was still relatively unknown, despite regular appearances on “Conan.” “I sold about, I think it was about 45 tickets over the course of three shows,” he says.” And now we’re very close to selling out the [expletive] Wilbur, months in advance, which is cool.”
At 28, Sloss is already a 10-year stand-up veteran. He’s built a fanbase in the UK — he still lives in his native Edinburgh — and Europe. Anywhere Netflix reaches is a potential market for him. He remembers playing to a crowd of 600 in Estonia before he was famous anywhere. “And they were so happy you’re there, because nobody goes there. I’m the first English-speaking comic in a lot of these countries, and I want to get that title for many, many other places.”
For the first time in a decade, Sloss won’t bring a new hour of material to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year. “If I write any material that I really enjoy,” he says, “it’s going to force me to get bored of my material I’m doing now.”
Sloss can’t afford to get bored with potentially explosive material. The moment he hits a collective nerve in the audience, he needs to feel it. “The silence, man,” he says. “There’s nothing that [expletive] compares to it. When there’s that deep inhale of air and your [expletive] ears pop.”
Those moments are precious to Sloss. “I remember the first time I spoke about my sister in ‘Dark,’ ” he says. “That silence, it was so [expletive] palpable and . . . fun. [Normally] if you’re a comedian and you hear silence, that’s very bad news. That means you told a joke and nothing landed. That was the fear I had for [expletive] years and years and years. And when I started talking about my sister I was like, oh no, the silence means they’re listening. They’re there. Every single eye is on you and they’re hanging on your every word and it’s a [expletive] power trip.”
With “X,” so named because it is his 10th hourlong show, Sloss is walking an even finer line, discussing his own experiences with masculinity, dissecting the positive and negative aspects of it and his own enlightenment regarding the problems it can create for women. He generally doesn’t care about offending people on purpose with riffs about subjects like religion, but he worries about doing it unintentionally here. “I’m doing a show where I touch on sexual assault,” he says. “I would be devastated if my jokes about that upset a survivor. The last thing I want to do with that subject matter is upset someone who’s gone through it.”
Early in his career, Sloss was encouraged to find his voice as a comedian by watching Jim Jefferies and Mike Birbiglia. From Birbiglia, he learned you could give a story room to breathe. From Jefferies, he saw that he could talk about weightier subjects. Until then, he was doing what he called “porridge comedy” — filling, but not delicious. “That’s what my comedy was for years,” he says. “But I remember watching Jim Jefferies, I thought about stuff after the show, man. The reason I remembered all of his jokes is because they made me [expletive] think. And I remember watching Mike Birbiglia and being like, ‘That was such a beautiful story.’ ”
Daniel Sloss: X
At the Wilbur Theatre, March 2 at 7 p.m. Tickets $37. 866-448-7849, www.thewilbur.com