The ability to make a room full of people laugh is never an easy one but Daniel Sloss seemed to do it with ease last week at Vaba Lava in Tallinn, Estonia. Yet, despite the never ending laughter in the room, the young comedian did something even more noteworthy – he told a story of loss, and the entire room fell silent.
Daniel Sloss’s second standup show in Estonia was even more popular than the first. With a sold out event, the Scottish comedian returned to Vaba Lava exactly a year later and delivered a narrative that has me wondering and remenicing ever since. Though only my second live standup show, first being Jimmy Carr’s, I want to lable Really!? my favorite standup show ever. Here are some of the reasons why.
A former ginger, current roomate of Daniel Sloss himself, and a Geordie, Kai Humphries presumed the role of the warmup act for his friend. And he was great! Though a shorter performance, he was as memorable as the main act and I can’t imagine anyone other than Mr. Humprhies warming the crowd that evening.
PS: The punchline he ended his act with was brilliant!
CONNECTING WITH THE AUDIENCE
Every standup comedian has a different style. Some tell punchline jokes (Jimmy Carr), some use puppets (Jeff Dunham), and then there are those who tell a story. Daniel Sloss is a story teller, and he tells stories with such conviction that he isn’t even afraid to tell a sad story inbetween the happy ones. It’s not just brave, it’s actually a brilliant way to connect with the audience.
Before last week, Daniel Sloss was just a comedian, a good one from what I had seen from all his short skits online. After his show, he became something more and maybe it’s because he shared something very personal about himself, or maybe it’s because I got to hug him afterwards, or maybe a little bit of both. But what I do know is that he has the ability to connect with people through comedy.
THE NARRATIVE STRUCTURE
As stated before, my first standup experience was listening to Jimmy Carr throw a joke after a joke into the audience from which I can’t remember a single one. I honestly can’t recall a single joke from those hundreds of jokes he did because he never bothered to construct a narrative. Daniel Sloss did the opposite, he had structure, to which he added personality and charisma, which formed a context that is far more memorable than a simple punchline to a dick joke.
More importantly, I appriciate a narrative that has continuinity in which the beginning and the end are somehow linked together. The kind of narrative that is able to feed from a live audience (there was a guy, nicknamed Google man by Sloss himself, in the audience who seemed to know a lot), and create something new without loosing the actual narrative or jeopardizing the integrity of the audience member in question. And I love a narrative that can have a bookmark, and a sad part, and a happy ending, all rolled into one because it’s one of a kind.
There is also nothing more entertaining than seeing a grown man doing weird expressions and exaggerated voices to embelish a story. It’s far more interesting and more fun than the opposite, though I do admit, there’s something about the emotionless delivery of a punchline that works just as well. Sloss is emotive and he uses physical comedy to uplift his stories to a higher level, which at the end of the day, is something he does very well!
TED TALK: IT’S ONLY A STORY
I quickly want to mention something I saw before his standup, something that has stuck with me ever since I watched it: an intelligent discussion about storytelling. It also happens to be a great example of a constructed narrative structure that has continuity and meaning, two things I appriciate a lot and two things Daniel Sloss is really great at. Either it’s a standup show or a thought provoking talk.
A THOUGHTFUL MESSAGE
I mentioned in the beginning that Sloss told a story of loss during his standup and this was definitely the highlight of the performance. Not because it was funny but because it was the oppsite, it was sad. But the message behind the story was powerful and thoughtful: laughter is not the opposite of sadness, sadness is the opposite of happiness, and laughter is apart of both. So we may be sad, and we may be devastated, but we are still allowed to laugh because it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re happy.
But even more meaningful was the fact that after Daniel Sloss had told a story of loss and the crowd had fallen completely silent, he continued and not more than a minute later, there was laughter in the room again. In that moment, sadness and laughter existed together and a young man had created an atmosphere where laughing felt a little bit more special because so many of us were laughing ourselves happy again. And if you have never laughed while being sad, you should know that it has a lot more meaning than laughing while being completely happy.