Scottish comedian Daniel Sloss gives Conan O'Brien hilarious lesson on Edinburgh's dark past

Scottish Comedian Daniel Sloss treated US talk show host Conan O'Brien to a fascinating insight into Edinburgh's dark past, recounting hilarious tales that border on the ridiculous.

Thursday, 7th March 2019, 2:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th March 2019, 2:07 pm
The comedian recounted hilarious tales of Edinburgh that border on the ridiculous

Detailing the city's approach to dealing with the likes of the Black Death to its role in gifting the world with the phrase "s**tfaced", a clip of the broadcast has since racked up more than 220,000 views on YouTube.

'Built on a city of people entombed alive'

Discussing Edinburgh's unique method of handling the outbreak of the plague, Sloss informed the American host the city had survived thanks to its more ruthless approach.

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Daniel Sloss kept the talk show host entertained with an insight into Edinburgh's murky past

"Because they couldn't come up with any medicine, they just decided to build a new Edinburgh on top of the old Edinburgh, and if you were ill they just sort of bricked you into your house,” he said.

The revelation prompted a startled "What?" from O'Brien, who probed, "So Edinburgh is built on a city of people who were entombed alive because they were sick?"

Home of the term ""s**tfaced"

As well as its questionable role in dealing with the plague outbreak, Sloss also rather proudly informed the host that Edinburgh can claim credit for gifting the world with the term "s**tfaced" - but its origins are less than glamorous.

The phrase, referring to someone who has had too much to drink, originated from Scotland and came about thanks to the region's sanitation methods, which involved throwing waste out of windows, Sloss said.

When throwing it out people shouted the phrase "Garde a l'eau (French for "watch out for the water"), but many were unfortunate victims of having the contents poured in their face after having too much to drink and forgetting not to look up.

And so the well-known turn of phrase was born.

‘The woman who died twice’

Commenting this was the "saddest history lesson" he had ever heard, O'Brien was then treated to a bleak tale about a Scottish woman who died twice.

"There was a time in Scotland where you were allowed to hang women for cheating on their husbands, no matter how awful that husband was," Sloss said.

"The was a woman who cheated on her husband and they hung her to death, and everyone checked the body and she was dead.

"They threw her in the back of a cart to go take her away and throw her in a ditch, or wherever they throw dead bodies, and she just woke up in the back of the thing.

"The guy on the horses was obviously like ‘Aah’, terrified that this zombie is now alive."

But because a death certificate had been signed, the woman was legally considered dead and as such, was also considered to be divorced, enabling her to then live an entirely new life, Sloss explained.

"That's a happy story," O'Brien commented in surprise.

"I thought what you were going to say is that she came back so they were like, 'Oh, hang her again'.

"That's where I thought it was going, because you don't seem like nice people with all these stories."

Questionable medical research

Sloss then went on to delve further into Edinburgh's muggy past, claiming that many local residents became mass murderers in an effort to supply fresher bodies for study at the University of Edinburgh - considered to be one of the greatest medical universities of all time.

"You can't test on a live body because that hurts, but what you can do is test in dead bodies," said Sloss.

"So there were these two guys called Burke and Hare who started going grave-robbing to begin with.

"They'd literally wait until the funeral was done, and wait until the family left, and then run and get the body and take it."

Originally from Kingston Upon Thames, Sloss moved to Fife at the age of four and has been adopted by Edinburgh.

The comic performs comedy regularly at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as well as worldwide.