Interview: Daniel Sloss & Kai Humphries
Daniel Sloss met his support act, North East comedian Kai Humphries, at the Edinburgh Fringe back in 2009. At the time, Sloss was doing his first solo show after narrowly missing out on winning So You Think You’re Funny? the previous year. While Humphries, less than a year into his career, was in the final of the 2009 So You Think You’re Funny?
Kai didn’t win either, but he did bag himself the same agent as Sloss – and they’ve been gigging together ever since. Travelling up and down the country, this terrible twosome are back in the North East after appearing here last winter – so we sent Daniel Carmichael to find out more.
DC: Hello lads. You’re currently on tour together – how do you feel your styles of comedy compliment or even contradict each other’s?
Daniel Sloss: Well, we are both incredibly immature in every single way! I think our comedy is quite similar as we are both cheeky and a bit rude. I wouldn’t say controversial, but some gags might make some ‘moronic’ audience members go, “Oh, that’s offensive!” But it’s not really; we just do stuff that makes us laugh. Sometimes we are immature and other times a bit clever but mainly it’s just good old fashioned jokes.
Kai Humphries: Acting as warm up, I can really get into and bond with the crowd, then Dan can knock it out of the park when he comes on. Dan will also do a few call backs to my set, so hopefully we complement each other well in that respect. He’s not just hired a random support act; it’s clearly two lads that are on show together and having a good time. I think that really shows in each of our sets – I talk about him and he talks about me.
DC: What has touring life been like so far?
DS: It has just been us fucking around basically. We’ve developed a healthy rivalry wherever we go. I think we spent a good fifteen quid in an arcade the other day just trying to see who was better at pool and air hockey. We should have been sound checking for the show but… It got pretty fucking competitive!
KH: I did a small tour at the beginning of this year but we’ve never done something quite on this level before; doing pretty much fifty dates in a row without popping home in-between. I think it’s going to be fantastic! We’re going to go snowboarding because I’m not very good at it and Dan’s been doing it forever. We’re also looking to generally keep ourselves active through the day before we have a drink after the gigs. It’s going to be too much fun to be work. It’ll just feel like going on holiday with one of your mates!
DS: The snowboarding should be great. I’ve been doing it for about six years but I’m not brilliant at it. I say six years as though I do it every week – I don’t. I go about once or twice a year but I love doing it. We know a few places we can go to whilst we’re on tour so we’re going to try fit that in whenever we can.
I think a lot of time is just going to be spent driving from each venue. The nights will be good though. We’re both up for a drink and a good laugh so I think most of the nights will end up that way. I’m really looking forward to when the tour properly kicks off. November is when it gets mental – we’re gigging pretty much every day.
DC: Kai, how do you prepare or even change your normal act for when you support?
KH: I always have the routine that I want to do in my head but I go on stage not knowing what my opening line is going to be. I tend to just play with the crowd and then get into material when the time is right. So I guess I don’t really prepare that much!
Me and Dan are both very professional in that we won’t drink before a gig. As far as the gig goes we won’t compromise it in that way. We want to make sure we’re fresh, well dressed, well groomed, feeling good about ourselves and then go on and do what we do…
DC: What can fans expect from the show?
KH: Well, they can expect a lot of high energy fun – totally high voltage! We’re both very enthusiastic and passionate on stage, so during the time that fans spend with us we’re going to take them up to a high energy and keep them there.
DS: In the past some people have made the mistake of thinking I’m a family-friendly comedian. Here’s the thing; I don’t think of myself as being particularly rude or offensive but you always get parents who bring their thirteen year old kids to the show not expecting my content. The funny thing is that the kids love it! I don’t know what happens when you become an adult but I think when you hit around thirty, you just forget you were ever a child. There are parents out there that think their twelve year old son doesn’t know about sex. It’s outstanding! Kids these days know about sex from age eight at the absolute latest. The parents feel so uncomfortable that I’m able to talk about these topics and are shocked when their kids are laughing at jokes about masturbation and blowjobs. I can imagine I’ve caused a few awkward car rides home.
DC: Daniel, you’ve achieved a lot in such a short space of time and at a young age, too. What has propelled you the most to get you where you are today?
DS: I think I’ve been very lucky. The time I started was just perfect for my career as I just really wanted to give it a shot. Stand-up is bigger than it has ever been before. Since there is so much comedy these days, people are looking for different things and fortunately I fell under the niche of being young. My age is definitely what propelled me. I’d love to say I got on TV because I was the funniest comedian out there, but I wasn’t! My age is a unique selling point which also provides a goldmine for material.
DC: You started when you were only sixteen. Are you glad you started as young as you did?
DS: I am yeah! A lot of comedians I’ve met have said they wish they’d started younger. It’s only thanks to this stand-up comedy boom that it has now become a viable career option. All the brilliant older comics you see nowadays didn’t start comedy until they were in their thirties. They had their regular day jobs but then decided to give stand-up a shot and really go for it. When they were sixteen they couldn’t turn around and say, “I want to be a comedian”. I was lucky that stand-up became totally achievable for a cocky little shit like myself!
DC: Would you say starting so early helped toughen you up?
DS: Yeah, definitely. Stand-up put me in scenarios which a sixteen year old would never have to deal with; like taking control of a hundred and twenty drunken people. Comedy taught me a lot: I learned how to take criticism, take abuse and be yelled at.
My moral when I started stand-up was that I should never complain about it. People go to do jobs day after day which they fucking hate! I get to do a job where I make people laugh; I don’t allow myself to complain.
DC: Kai, you’ve been doing stand-up for a little under 3 years now. How have some of your ambitions been met or revised in that time?
KH: My ambitions were met the minute I got my first twenty quid for a gig! I had never planned on doing stand-up. I just dived straight in. When I worked at the Cramlington Sports Centre it was never my goal to be a stand-up comedian. So when it happened – and I started getting paid for it – all of this was just a bonus. In a couple of year’s time I would like to be in a similar position to Dan, where I’m getting my own tour and looking for someone to support me! I think it would be nice to follow in his footsteps…
DC: You’re a born and bred Geordie lad. Would you say there is a Geordie stereotype you’re trying to crush or is it fun to just embrace it?
KH: It’s funny because I think I contradict the Geordie stereotype but also reinforce it. From the accent, people will generally assume you’re a bit dumb so I will show some intelligence in my material to prove I’m not stupid! But then… my sense of humour will fall back to toilet gags a bit.
I doubt it’s ever an issue because I don’t think people have a negative view of Geordies anyway. Everyone seems to be fond of us. Plus, when you’re in Scotland or Ireland they don’t quite see you as being English. They all like us; it’s like a free pass in every country!
DC: What do you think of the North East circuit at the moment then?
KH: I feel like I’ve come along at a very good time. I started right around the time when all the acts turning professional were leaving the area. The likes of Chris Ramsey, Jason Cook and Sarah Millican had all left the North East because they were too far away from an active comedy scene.
When I started The Grinning Idiot expanded, The Stand announced they were opening here and more professional gigs started popping up. It seems like the circuit has developed to a point where acts that are breaking through have a chance of having a substantial career in the North East. As soon as my professional work started coming in that’s when the gigs started really flourishing.
DC: Finally, then, what are your plans after the tour?
DS: I think after the tour I’m just going to relax for a very long time. Going from the Fringe and then straight on tour I’ll need a little break…
I am also doing a little more TV work. I prefer stand-up but I do love doing the panel and stand-up TV shows. Panel shows are just so much fun. I’ve watched them ever since I was a kid and for me it feels like a novelty to be there. When I’m on them I’m always nervous I’m not saying enough because I’m too busy enjoying the show…
KH: For me, it’s circuit work right up until the next Edinburgh Fringe. I could never have dreamed of the things that have happened in my career so far, so I couldn’t tell you what’s going to happen next year. I’m very happy go lucky – I’ll take whatever comes my way.
Daniel Sloss is at Hilarity Bites, Darlington, on November 11th. For details, see: hilaritybites.co.uk