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The joke in question is part of Jigsaw – one of Sloss’s two hilarious live shows bought by Netflix, which premiered last month (the other, Dark, is also well worth a watch). Originally titled So?, Sloss first premiered the routine at the Edinburgh Fringe – at which he’s now performed at for 11 seasons running, drawing some of the festival’s biggest crowds – and it was met with international acclaim. But it wasn’t until a few weeks after the show that the 28-year-old had hundreds of people began contacting him to say it had made them re-think their idea of love, causing them to end relationships they’d been unhappy in.
When he filmed the Jigsaw routine for Netflix, which aired on 11th September, Sloss said 74 people had been in touch following the Edinburgh show to say it had influenced their break-up, including one couple who had been married for 13 years. Today, the current tally stands at over 6,000 break-ups, 30 divorces and 34 cancelled engagements – and if Sloss’ social media comments are anything to go by, it’s climbing higher by the day.
What’s the joke about?
We suggest you watch the show itself to get the full effect, delivered with Sloss’ signature wit and dark humour. But to sum it up, Sloss essentially says he believes the majority of modern-day relationships aren’t actually based on real love, but a desire to be loved – as he puts it: “A bunch of people who never took time to learn how to be alone, therefore never learned how to love themselves.”
The fundamental idea is nothing new – that people romanticise the idea of romance and instead of loving their partners for who they really are, they love a false image that’s been fabricated in their own heads (which, obviously, no one is able to live up to). But it’s Sloss’s seriously effective storytelling – using the analogy of a Jigsaw, from which the show gets its title – that’s made the concept finally ‘click’ for so many people.
He begins the joke by recalling a moment from his childhood when his father told him that there’s a perfect person for all of us; our missing piece. Being seven, Sloss says he bought into the fantasy: “Even though what he said sounded sweet and whatever, what it manifested into in my seven-year-old brain was this: 'If you are not with someone, you are broken. If you are not with someone, you are incomplete. If you are not with someone, you are not whole'.'"
He continues to explain how this jigsaw myth makes people believe they’ve met the perfect person, only for them to fall short of their expectations. "Every relationship is perfect for three months, and here’s why," he says. "Because after three months, that’s when you realise nobody else is a jigsaw piece.
Everyone else on this planet is as deep and as complex and as individual as you, which means they’ve spent the past 20 or 30 years of their lives working on their own jigsaw puzzle in the same way you have been working on yours. You can’t suddenly expect them to give up everything they’ve achieved to suddenly fit into yours."
So… he thinks we’re all doomed?
Not at all – the joke has a positive ending, making the message even more poignant. After bragging on social media about the breakup tally, some labelled Sloss a ‘sociopath’ – a label he strongly contests. In fact, he describes Jigsaw as a “love letter to single people”.
“Despite the fact that I absolutely loved hearing about the breaks up and divorces, the articles suggesting Jigsaw is a breakup show is written by people who haven't seen it,” the comedian wrote on Twitter. As he says in the show itself, he’s not here to break up true love – “I never would want to, and I don’t think I possibly could” – he simply wants to help people face the nagging part of themselves that’s saying they’re not really with the right person.
“All I’m saying is question f**king everything,” he says. “If you’re not comfortable asking yourselves the questions I’ve asked you during this show it’s because you are terrified of the answers. The worst thing you can do with your life is spend it with the wrong human being.”
Anything else to know?
Fans of Sloss’s Netflix specials will be pleased to know he’s just set off on a worldwide tour of his new show X – which premiered at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – including a string of UK dates.
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