Dulcé Sloan Talks Comedy, 'The Daily Show,' White Anxiety and JFL NorthWest
Published Feb 12, 2019Dulcé Sloan has arrived back in New York City from New Orleans, where she just recorded her first special for Comedy Central.
A correspondent on The Daily Show, Sloan is accustomed to delivering sharp, socio-political satire but, with no idea when her special will actually be coming out, she avoided jokes that might not be so relevant a few months from now.
"You don't do topical humour on a special," Sloan tells Exclaim! "If it's going to be topical, you do something like, talk about the president, because he's going to be president for a while."
It's an interesting thing to hear from Sloan, who grew up in Miami and Atlanta. As a young American, she has surely never seen the likes of Donald Trump in the White House and, with every news cycle, his presidency does seem to be on the precipice of some political abyss.
"No, they gonna let that evil man be president as long as they want him to be president," she says matter of fact.
They? Who are they?
"Oh, white folks," she clarifies. "Specifically the white men that run this country. He's gonna be president as long as they need him to be awful, and then they'll get rid of him or whatever they gotta do. But naw, he ain't going nowhere for a while."
Though she's a graduate of theatre studies, Sloan started doing standup in 2009 when a fellow comic saw something special in her. Over the past decade, she has been hailed by the likes of Variety and Rolling Stone as one of America's most significant young comedic voices.
"It was either that or be a marine biologist and work with dolphins," Sloan says when asked about her early interest in performing. "Then I found out how much school you had to do to hang out with dolphins all day, so I was like 'Fuck that.'"
To be clear, Sloan is not anti-education.
"No, I'm anti-doing-a-bunch-of-math-to-hang-out-with-dolphins! It doesn't make any sense," she exclaims. "They don't add. What am I doing? No! I was like, 'Y'all messing with people, I'm not doing this!'"
The ocean's loss is dry land's gain. Sloan is a hysterical comedian who, after initially starting out as an observational comic, delves into her own life for her current mode of standup. She's also a brilliant performer, as evident from her tenure as a desk and field correspondent on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.
"I'm not a writer on the show," she explains. "Everyone thinks all the correspondents are writers but no, we have writers on the show. We work with the writers and it's a collaboration so that [pieces are] in our voice and of our perspective and expressing how we feel about whatever subject we're talking about. We can pitch our own desk and field pieces, and we also do pieces that are given to us or pitched for us. So, anytime we get anything, we sit down with the writers and then we write out together what it is.
"The writers write the show every day," she adds. "I don't write the show every day."
Sloan says working on The Daily Show has impacted her because she now pays more attention to political figures and circumstances than she ever has.
"It's also been interesting to see people so afraid that didn't used to be afraid of America and the government," Sloan says. "The people who believed in 'the American Dream' and that everything was great. And then there's the rest of the population that's like, 'Okay, I hope I make it home alive today.' 'I hope I don't get in trouble for something I didn't do.' 'I hope I don't have any issues that I have because I'm a person of colour in America.'
"So, for white people to wake up and be afraid of America and the president is a very interesting thing to see, as a person of colour. Because before he got elected, that's not how it was. When I talk to people who watch the show and they say 'I'm just so afraid,' it's a fear I don't understand, because I don't understand where it's coming from."
Sloan says she understands that the erratic president does represent an existential threat, but she's rather surprised that people weren't similarly afraid of George W. Bush. When the notion is raised that the current Republican establishment seems to be emboldening more people to wear their hate on their sleeve, walking around with 'Make America Great Again' hats, which might make white people fear other white people, Sloan responds, "It's cute."
"These people aren't a surprise to me," she says of MAGA. "Oh, now they have twitter; they get to be racist from the comfort of their own home. Great. Congratulations. And yes, this man has emboldened these people. But y'all also allowed this man to embolden these people and act like this. There's nobody who can edit this? Nobody who can say, 'Ay dog, you need to chill out, you're causing problems in this country?'
"So, for me, there's a reason they're letting him act this way," Sloan reasons. "If Trump's a retaliation for Obama, why y'all going so far? If you look at the history of colonizers and the history of white people in America, fear is how you keep people down. You don't let people vote or read. How does a population that feels like they have lost power remind the rest of the population that they still run shit? Fear.
"That's his only job," she says of President Trump. "His only job is to incite you to be afraid of your neighbour so you can't pay attention to the stupid thing he's doing over here. But me? I've been raised and maintained at a level of fear my entire life, so your tricks don't work. I know what this is. You're acting a fool, you're wearing your little silly ass hat. Your hat don't mean anything to me."
Such worldly insights and uncompromising opinions are present in Sloan's comedy for sure. Though if pressed, she will admit she knows very little about a city like Vancouver.
"Who's talking about Vancouver?" Sloan says. "I know they filmed The X-Files there. I don't have any information on Vancouver. Y'all don't have a Drake."
Dulcé Sloan performs at the 2019 JVL Northwest Festival at the Biltmore Cabaret in Vancouver on Saturday February 23.
Listen to this interview with Dulcé Sloan on the Kreative Kontrol podcast on iTunes or below.