Daniel Sloss clearly likes to keep busy. During lockdown and lacking UK gigs he flew to Australia, spent a lonely fortnight in quarantine, and then went on tour. As a result, industry box office bible Pollstar recently declared him to be the world’s top selling comedian for the first half of 2021.
Now he is back with his latest show, HUBRIS. The title comes, among other things, from the fact that until the pandemic he was the big shot in his house. Then overnight he felt like a nobody without an audience to validate him. No wonder he needed to go to the other side of the world to get that live fix.
While previous shows had overarching themes such as masculinity and relationships, HUBRIS shuttles around a little more. The black-clad Scot quipped that his previous shows often closed on a “sad” section. This one ends on playful routines about hamsters and horses.
He offers bite-sized portions on various topics, from the assertion that Americans are very poor at swearing to imagining – too vividly – Prince Andrew’s sex life, to trying to improve his own mental health and failing. He decided to go to a gym to get fit last year only for gyms to close their doors.
He is more mischievous than ever, though disingenuous when he says that this time round it is all about the laughs and not intelligent. Despite his protestations, he manages to be warped and witty, puerile and insightful, often in the same sentence,
Occasionally his material strays into familiar territory. A notion about not wanting to live a long life because the extra years are the geriatric ones has recently been covered by Ben Elton and Ricky Gervais. But the younger comic adds a more caustic spin with a pay-off about missing smoking every day: “It’s my Diana.”
Sloss has been a skilful performer since his teenage breakthrough, and at 30, with hit Netflix and HBO specials under his belt, he is a commanding presence, often perched on a stool when not standing up to act out punchlines. He has always been a smart verbal comic, now he is also a smart physical clown, at one point gleefully miming an entire rollercoaster ride.
This show is something of a rollercoaster ride too. Fast then pensive. Dark then lighthearted. Something for everyone with an open mind here.
HUBRIS is filled with jokes and also ideas. Sloss may not have had much competition when it came to topping the box office comedy polls in early 2021, but he deserves to remain a front runner at the end of the year’s much livelier second half.