Teenage kicks for stand-up Daniel Sloss

IF Daniel Sloss suffers from teenage angst, he certainly doesn't show it. Like thousands of school pupils up and down the county, he's busy doing his Highers, hoping desperately to achieve the grades he needs to secure a place at university. And, like everyone else, he has his distractions.

But Sloss isn't your everyday 17-year-old, and these aren't everyday distractions. At an age when social awkwardness causes some to barricade themselves in their rooms, Sloss throws himself under the spotlight, doing something that most people twice his age wouldn't have the courage to do - he gets up on stage and tells jokes.

"I was never the attractive kid, I was never the sporty kid, I was always the funny kid who made everyone laugh," says the youngster, who will be performing at The Stand Comedy Club's Red Raw night on Monday. "I love being on stage. What can I say? I'm just an attention whore."

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With his shaggy blond hair, baggy jeans and designer T-shirt, the young man from Fife looks every bit the stereotypical teenager. However, he exudes a confidence that belie his tender years.

Currently on study leave from Waid Academy in Anstruther, Sloss doesn't turn 18 until the end of the summer – September 11 to be precise.

"There was a minute's silence on my birthday for the first three years after the terrorist attack – that's not something I particularly wanted," he says.

His dislike for silence is understandable, especially if it follows one of his jokes. Fortunately, that's not common. But with his regular appearances at The Stand in on York Place, it's amazing that he finds time to fit in his schoolwork. When he isn't performing, he's writing. And then there are the other dilemmas with which teenagers are faced.

"I did really badly in fifth year – there were so many good games coming out for the X Box 360 that I really couldn't bring myself to study," he says. "I've got to revise like hell this year – it's a struggle trying to fit everything in."

Yes, it's tough being a teenager, something Sloss tries to get across on stage.

"My routines are all about coming at things from a different angle to adults," he explains.

Sloss doesn't claim that his humour is sophisticated, but that never did Billy Connolly any harm. Listen carefully, however, and you'll hear the odd pearl of wisdom – the world according to Sloss.

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This is hardly surprising, considering he's studying philosophy. But his reasons for doing stand-up are far more base.

"I've been a huge fan of stand-up comedy since I was about four, when my dad basically force fed me Jack Dee," he says. "I laughed but I think that was only because of the silly voices and the swearing.

"I used to act when I was eight. I always liked being on stage but I didn't really know why. My friend Craig and I were always the comedy characters at youth theatre in Kirkcaldy. We were really close and funny together off stage and so we just went crazy with the scripts.

"With comedy acting, you know you're doing well or doing crap because you get an instant reaction. That's not something you get with straight acting. But it was only when I turned 16 that I thought, 'Why not give stand-up comedy a try'?"

He makes it sound simple, but it helps when your mum is able to arrange three weeks' work experience with one of the best Scots comics in the business.

Last summer, in the bubbling comedy cauldron of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Sloss was taken under the wing of Mock the Week star Frankie Boyle. "I was told a lot of comedians aren't funny in real life but he was absolutely hilarious," says the teenager.

"We would hang out and he would give me advice. He even let me write jokes for Mock the Week. He told me. 'There are some gigs when you'll come off stage and consider suicide, but you can't let it get you down'. I doubt I would've had the confidence to write jokes if it hadn't been for that."

The work experience culminated in the youngster's stand-up debut at the Laughing Horse in Edinburgh.

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"Looking back, I think I was terrible," he cringes. "I still got laughs but I was far too nervous.

With lots more gigs in the pipeline, including an appearance with Boyle in London next month, the future is looking bright. However, Sloss knows that comedy is a cutthroat business – he isn't taking anything for granted.

"I want to study journalism and history at university," he says. "But I've told my parents that if the chance to do stand-up comedy for a living comes along then I'll take it, even if it only pays enough to get by. I just love being on stage."

• Daniel Sloss, The Stand, York Place, Monday, 8.30pm, 2, 0131-558 7272

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