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Daniel Sloss - Teenage Kicks
Published on Sunday, 16 August 2009

“I need excitement, I need it bad,” wail The Undertones in their 1978 opus which gives 18-year old Daniel Sloss the title for his Fringe debut show. Unfortunately, Sloss ain’t exactly “the best I’ve ever had.”

All the promo material for Daniel Sloss screams that he writes for Frankie Boyle on Mock The Week, giving the impression that he is some sort of svengali wunderkind behind Boyle’s foul-mouthed success. I’m prepared to believe that a lot of his show's material would seem better performed by Boyle, because I think the chief difficulty with Sloss’s act is the barrier of his extreme youthfulness. It immediately distances him from the audience and, although he gamely tackles the issue head-on, he struggles to overcome it.

I reviewed another young stand-up at the Fringe last week who made a virtue of his limited frame of reference, by crafting a tightly-honed routine about the importance of family. In contrast, there's no obvious structure to Sloss’s set - and while there are several good laugh-lines, he skips from topic to topic with no through-thread other than repeated gags about the denizens of Fife and masturbating.

It’s clear he can craft a good joke, and that presumably is what he does for Boyle and co. on Mock The Week – but what he needs now is a sense of narrative. It doesn’t have to turn into an episode of Jackanory, but having a point to it all would be nice. Some of his best stuff, for instance, was on the transition from child to teenager, and sticking more closely to the theme his title implies would do him a favour.

Daniel Sloss is obviously very confident and comfortable behind the microphone and, as things progressed, he won over large parts of the audience through equal parts charm and perseverance. I think it does him a disservice to take the hype at face value – his accomplishments to date are extremely impressive, but he still has a lot of potential, and development as a performer ahead of him. It will be interesting to watch that happen, and he's already an engaging presence on the stage, once you get over the fact that he looks like a child. He may be straight out of school, but he has some homework left to do.

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