“It’s so pathetic and weak,” he continued. “I love it. The logic of masculinity makes me laugh so much because I’m still part of it. Even though I’m conscious of it, I’m still an idiot.”
As much fun as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival regular’s new critically acclaimed show X has at the expense of masculinity, however, Sloss knows just how serious this subject can be. After all, we’re living in a post-Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K. world that, despite the best efforts of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, is struggling to contend with the powerful men whose behavior has ruined the lives of countless women. Sloss’s new show X, which begins its off-Broadway run at the SoHo Playhouse this week, doesn’t ignore these particular aspects of toxic masculinity. In fact, it tackles them head-on.
Daniel Sloss talks toxic masculinity in stand-up comedy
“I want to talk about it because it’s not just an issue about laughter or finding the right light,” he tells Metro. “It’s an issue that we all need to be involved in. My voice isn’t necessarily the most important one to add to this debate, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not going to lend it. It’s an issue that affects f–king everyone, especially men. So I’m not talking about this stuff to talk over the women who face it. It’s basically what my experiences with [toxic masculinity] have been and the conclusions I’ve drawn.”
Sloss is quick to note that he’s not here to lecture audiences. Like the previous two shows he ran off-Broadway, X is at its heart a stand-up comedy show that revolves around a story. The comic insists on not spoiling the story for anyone who hasn’t seen the show. Reviews of its previous runs do exist on the internet, of course, but Sloss asks that New York audiences avoid them. Not only to keep the surprise, he adds, but to avoid lessening its shocking impact.
“I think comedians can talk about anything,” he says. “I f–king hate taboo subjects because none of them need to be taboo. The only reason things are taboo is that f–king cowards don’t want to talk about them. They don’t want others talking about them, either. The only reason that subjects are made taboo is that it gives them so much unnecessary power. But we don’t need to be scared. Yes, some conversations are inconceivable, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be had. And if it takes a comic to do it, then yeah, I’ll f–king do it. So the fact that most men, and especially have the f–king balls to talk about this stuff is why I’m doing it.”
Daniel Sloss on the need to talk about masculinity
“I mean, I get it,” he continues.
“One of the problems is we’re f–king men. Any form of criticism that’s directed toward a man is usually taken as a sign of attack. How do I know that? Because whenever people criticize me, my internal monologue tells me otherwise. So I understand why men get so defensive when they’re attacked. But it’s so pathetic. Women can certainly say that it’s pathetic because it is. Saying so does end up alienating a lot of men, and rightfully so, but they shouldn’t be so f–king sensitive about taking criticism. This shouldn’t be the circumstances we live in but they are, so why don’t we deal them in an empathetic and understanding way? So yeah, I’m all for talking about these subjects on stage.”
However, Sloss makes it painstakingly clear that X is simply about discussing masculinity and all its faults, hilarious and otherwise, on the stand-up comedy stage. Yes, its more prevalent (and toxic) shades occupy a sizeable chunk of the show’s material, but so too does its sillier side. After all, this is the same comedian who boasts that his Netflix special Jigsaw has ended thousands of relationships, including canceled engagements and divorces. Which is especially hilarious since tickets for X’s Valentine’s Day shows are already sold out.
“Sometimes my fans are the dumbest people in existence,” he laughs. “They’re like, ‘I’m taking my girlfriend to see Daniel Sloss on Valentine’s Day. I hope we don’t break up!’ I mean, do you actually think I’m doing the breakups? I love my fans dearly, but seriously.”
Daniel Sloss: X is running off-Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse from Feb. 6-24. Tickets are still available here.