How does it feel to have just notched up your tenth Edinburgh at the age of 26?

I love it. I spent a lot of years on the circuit not feeling like I belonged. I got a lot of TV work early on and I was getting a lot of big gigs but I felt an imposter, like I hadn’t really earned my stripes. Having ten shows under my belt… nobody questions my stripes.

Are you still holding something back or are you leaving it all out there?

Loading article content

It’s slowly bleeding out. I’m learning how to do it. For years my comedy was fine. But there was no substance or truth to it when I started. I’d just talk about things that wound me up. It’s only in the past four years I’ve started being myself on stage. I’m a very dark person deep down and every year I just try to bleed it out a little bit more. It’s a case of, ‘Let’s see if we can get away with this. Is this a normal thought? Am I a crazy person?’ And the only way to find out is to say it to a roomful of strangers and see if they laugh…

That’s quite a privileged position.

Oh God yeah. Last year I talked about being in a relationship where you can’t be bothered breaking up with the person and you just find yourself wishing they’d die to save you the effort. When I said it on stage, half the audience were laughing. So I don’t know if that’s the world or just my crowd.

So you were personally responsible for helping people to break up?

Yeah absolutely. People sent me messages and I’d re-tweet them all and stick them on Facebook because no one believed me. I was getting messages saying, ‘Thanks for the advice, I did what you said. You were absolutely right, I’ve broken up with my girlfriend.’

Is there anything you wouldn’t say on stage?

No. Absolutely not. There are some things I couldn’t say but that’s because I don’t have the skill yet. I don’t think there’s anything that cannot or should not be joked about. It’s not about the topic, it’s about the angle. Murder’s never funny, but I can make a joke about murder that’s funny. You change the angle. You surprise people. I hope I never feel that I can’t make a joke about something. Comedians aren’t necessarily important and we’re not going to change the world, but I do think we need to test stuff occasionally. If somebody ever told me, ‘You can’t make jokes about fat people,’ you’d better believe I’m doing 20 minutes on it next year.

Your 2015 show, Dark, was about your dead sister, and quite a turning point for you?

Absolutely. I discovered how much I loved making the audience feel awkward. They’ve trusted you for 50 minutes, they’ve been laughing and they’re ready to laugh again, and then you just drop something real serious on them and they don’t know how to react. The relief from the first laugh after that bit is a real power trip. I love it. The reason I didn’t make any jokes about my sister before wasn’t because it was traumatising. I just couldn’t make it funny. And when I did, I thought, ‘Oh, I can make anything funny.’

Do you think you imply you’re a sociopath?

If you were to give me a gun and someone I hate was in the room, I wouldn’t bat an eyelid. If I knew I was getting away with it, absolutely, of course. But that’s just me talking a big game in the pub. Who knows? But I do love very deeply. My friends are the most important people in the world to me. I love kids. I’ve got two god kids and I can’t wait to be a dad one day. And those aren’t the thoughts of a sociopath. Sociopaths don’t well up whenever they see babies like I do. I love shouting my opinions and not enough people were listening, so I decided to make them funny because it was the only way they would.

Would it be fair to say you’re not the panel-show type…?

For me being a comedian is being on stage doing jokes. I’ve done them before and they’re fine, but I just don’t enjoy it. I didn’t get into stand-up to be on TV. I got into stand-up cos I love stand-up. I enjoy acting and would love to get back into it. But with TV, America does it right. ‘Oh you’re a stand -up comedian. Do you want to come on to this show and do some stand-up comedy? Great.’ Whereas in the UK, it’s ‘You’re a stand-up comedian? Do you want to come on to this show and NOT do stand-up comedy?’ That’s why we don’t produce as many greats as the Americans. But I do think our middle 50 per cent of comedians is so much better than America’s.

But most comedians still want TV to help boost their profile.

I’d love to do TV where it’s just stand-up but I’m very aware of selling an audience a false product. When I did my first darker show it was after I’d done a bunch of TV stuff and every night I’d spend half the show watching 20 people walk out because they’d seen this young cheeky chappie on TV and now here’s this angry twentysomething effing and jeffing and talking about his dead sister. And I kind of only had myself to blame there.

Is that why you’ve appeared on the Conan O’Brien Show quite a lot in the US?

The reason I do Conan is because they let me get away with my jokes that happen to be pushing boundaries and that’s the type of TV I want to do. I can be myself. I did Drunk History cos that’s also me… I’m drunk and I’m shouting about something!

Can you see yourself doing comedy for the rest of your life then?

Oh God I hope so. If I don’t, I’ll have to kill myself. I’ve got no transferable skills. I don’t have suicidal thoughts, but it’s the only logical conclusion. You think I’m going to be able to go from a job where I work one hour a day to suddenly dealing with members of the public for a minimum wage? I’d hang myself. I’ve tasted this life now. I can’t go back.

  • Tuesday, November 28: Daniel Sloss £12. BoxOffice: funnywaytobe.com and Barnard Castle’s The Witham on 01833-631107. Show suitable for ages 16+.