Daniel Sloss, a 29-year-old Scottish comedian in his new HBO special, ‘X’, perfectly tries to touch upon the most uncomfortable everyday interactions satirically. The new style in comedy, no longer remains only limited to hard hitting punch lines but also encompasses series of storytelling in order to communicate important subjects to the audience along with comic relief.
Daniel Sloss began his set by cautioning his audience and essentially addressing the Metoo movement and the responsibility of being a man in 2019 in the end. He managed to create an impactful conclusion of the show.
Sloss’s Netflix comedy special ‘Dark’ and ‘Jigsaw’ had similar style of ‘dark humor’. As The New Yorker reported, “Daniel Sloss’s signature move is pivot to vulnerability” and ‘X’ is not an exception.
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Sloss began his set by touching upon the spectra of pedophilia followed by how female homosociality is different from male homosociality while former is empowering; homosociality being a same-sex relationship that is non-sexual and non-romantic in nature.
He goes on to add about toxic masculinity, how individuals over the years are subject to change of their thoughts and beliefs and most essentially, the requirement of continuous introspection in order to identify our own unconscious biases.
The first 60-70 minutes of the show being extremely funny manages to hold a constant attention from the audience. Daniel Sloss eventually goes on to mention his dynamic choice of subjects in the first half where he mentions, ‘once I have legally fulfilled my contract of being a comedian’, so that last 15 minutes which he addresses to be ‘sad fifteen minute Ted talk’, would be effective towards his target audience.
Here in the audience, while all of us are laughing their heart out, this set necessarily is for cis-het men and the ones who constantly dismiss the Metoo movement or emphasise on #notallmen. As Daniel Sloss addresses, ‘they will listen to me because I look like them’, touches upon how individuals from privileged communities are required to bear the social responsibility of sensitising about violence and toxic masculinity rather than only hiding behind the fake façade of wokeness.
Daniel Sloss acutely places his important punch line around pedophilia by enacting actions with his hand where he draws the line between ‘funny monster’ and ‘actual monster’. He goes on to address how it is difficult for men to accept emotional reactions as their socialisation condition lacked this understanding and thus, male homosociality lacks the practice of complementing each other to boost their spirit, unlike which is a really a prevalent practice amongst women.
In order to raise a dialogue around unconscious biases, Daniel Sloss introduces a character--Nigel–whom he identifies as his own 10 years old self. Nigel is the owner of many thoughts which he is ashamed of, just like many of us. This segment analyses the importance of a constant relearning of what we already know about social mores in order to question our unconscious biases.
Daniel Sloss continues to talk about the inconvenience he faced as a result of lack of proper sex education. The pedagogy of sex education fails to entail the important details required for sex and that it is not only about procreation, but pleasure too for anyone involved.
Sloss’s attempt to conclude with something of grave importance and building his set along that line is a critique of all comedians who have attempted to establish over the years how comic relief involves provocative subject which can be extremely derogatory and offensive to minority communities.
He distinctly draws an important line on his Netflix show, ‘Dark’, about how it is pathetic to laugh at the community as opposed to how different it is to laugh with the community, thus essentially humanising that aspect. This narrative develops a conversation around confrontational comedy and our reaction towards it as audience. The attempt of employing comedy to address grave issues by the survivor necessarily does not lighten its importance but becomes an important coping mechanism. Three most hard hitting punch lines that Daniel Sloss heard came from his friend whose experience he addressed in his concluding slot.
Daniel Sloss mentioned how one of his closest female friends was raped by another close male friend whom he knew for eight years. His desperate reaction to such an incident was facilitated by the need of teaching the perpetrator a lesson by beating him up. But he realises that this in return would make the perpetrator a victim while the survivor’s experience would take a back seat.
In order to express anger, the practice of violence necessarily does not dismantle the structure but helps to continue it. What Daniel Sloss also addresses is how taking an action ‘on behalf’ necessarily changes the narrative of him being the ‘hero’ and yet again might lead to the survivor’s experience being undermined and overlooked.
He tries to reach to the audience specially the ones who want to escape by emphasizing on #notallmen, that many among us are mere enablers. His sense of helplessness for not being able to stop what has happened might be because he overlooked all the problematic aspects of his perpetrator-friend. This raises the important question around our role as ‘friends’.
What Daniel Sloss essentially tries to highlight here is that as friends we all are responsible for ‘enabling’ certain form of behavior if we are not critiquing or trying to rectify them.
Daniel Sloss addresses toxic masculinity by enveloping it with humor but yet not dismissing the importance of dialogue around it.
It is significant to initiate this political conversation within the private spaces. The uncomfortable exchange of looks when someone points out what is fundamentally incorrect can necessarily raise an important exchange of dialogues.
Featured Image Source: Atlantic