comic dulcé sloan knows what affects you affects her too
By Awa Gueye
October 28, 2019
Interviews can be difficult when the subject is tight-lipped or standoffish, but this isn’t the case with comedian and actor Dulcé Sloan. She is easy to talk to, insightful, and funny as hell. When they say, “get you a girl who can do both,” I’m sure they’re referring to Sloan who is as much a listener as she is a talker. We know her from her day job as a correspondent on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah,” and in 2020, she will be part of the cast the Fox animated series “The Great North” alongside Jenny Slate, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, and Paul Rust. Her latest big accomplishment has been a 30-minute Comedy Central Presents stand up special that you’d be a fool to miss. Before the special debuted on October 25th, I spoke to Sloan about her distaste for New York City,
This year’s theme at AFROPUNK is, “We See You,” I want to start off by asking what the phrase, “we see you” means to you.
I think the only time that I’ve said, “I see you” or “we see you,” is when I’m acknowledging someone as they walk in nature. It’s basically like if someone’s either like wearing their best outfit or then you know they had a great performance or something like that. To me, it’s an acknowledgment of what someone else is doing and showing them that I appreciate and love and enjoy what they are doing, whatever that thing might be.
You’re aligned with AFROPUNK’s values. The tenets here are no hate, no sexism, no racism, no fatphobia, no ableism, no homophobia, no transphobia and you’re not shy of any of these topics in your comedy or even on your social media. Has this always been you or did you make the conscious decision once you started becoming a notable comedian?
No, I just focus on stuff that I write and I feel like the things that I write focus in on things that affect me. So, racism affects me. Sexism affects me. Homophobia affects me in the fact that I have gay friends and lesbian friends and queer friends. If someone is mistreating them, it affects me. Because you know I will fight you. Like I have people in my family that have been messed around with. So, you don’t want to see your friends or your family mistreated.
You started out in the theater at school. Was the dream always comedy for you, did you want to act first or were they always intertwined?
I’m still acting. The goal was acting, so I achieved that goal. I didn’t get into standup until one of the comics told me I was a comic and made me take up a standup class. I never wanted to be it. It’s just … it’s weird to be good at something that you never intended to do. It’s a weird feeling because it’s just like, “How did I just think this? I didn’t even try at this.” But the thing is, standup’s still hard. Writing jokes is hard. Doing shows is hard. The process is exhausting. But doing comedy and being a comic has allowed me to have opportunities and get access and be seen in a way that just doing acting I wouldn’t have received.
In your latest special, you talk a lot about disliking New York, of course. I wanted to know if you had three compliments for New York?
Cool. What’s the biggest difference that you’ve found between men in New York and Atlanta?
Men in New York don’t stop talking. Men in New York always yelling. But you have to understand that when I’m out, I’m usually at a comedy show. Single men don’t usually go to comedy shows. A lot of times I don’t interact with men unless they’re other comics or they’re saying, “Hey, I loved your standup,” or “Hey, you had a great show.” I haven’t really dated here. And the one guy I did date, oh he was a nightmare so I can’t say much about the men here, but just seeing them generally as they’re walking around, it’s just like, “Oh, no. No. Stop yelling.”
You give good advice in your comedy special, is there anything I should know about being 24?
Being 24? Well, the great thing about being 24 now… when I was 24, you did not have Plan B. You just had to hope and pray. When I was 24, from a woman’s perspective, your career was important, but it was still always the, “but you’re still going to have a family, right?” I do want to have a family. I do want to be married. I do want to have children. That’s what I wanted myself but I just saw a big pressure that was put on women around me. A lot of these women, they didn’t want that. They didn’t mind being in a relationship with somebody, but they didn’t want to be married or they didn’t want to have kids. Everyone had an opinion about it. There was definitely a stigma around women who wanted to focus on their careers and didn’t want children and a family. I mean I was 24, what. 12 years ago? I think women now are truly given opportunities that they weren’t before. There’s a conscious effort to include [us]. There is an acknowledgment of the accomplishments of women and it’s the difference between “she’s a good comic” or “she’s a good female comic.” I think now, you’re starting to see men kind of acknowledge [women in this profession] which is so wild to me because we’ve only been together since humans started. It’s just funny to me because it’s just like, why don’t men know how to treat us? We’ve been here the whole time. We’ve been right next to you making other human beings.
My advice for being 24 is to tell these men or whoever you’re dating, “no.” Don’t be afraid to tell somebody “no.” Don’t be afraid to tell somebody what you want. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a situation because somebody else will love you. And that’s something that I had to learn because I put up with a bad relationship for a long time. I truly believed like, “What if this is the only person [I’ll ever be with]? I’m in a relationship, we have to stick this out.” I didn’t realize, I’m 24 and this is not the person I need to marry. I think sometimes when you’re young, you can be dedicated to stuff that’s not good for you.
Oh, also get off the phone. Just in general. Get off the phone because you don’t realize that a lot of people on social media you think someone’s living this glamorous life. Yeah, they might have been on vacation this week, but then they’re eating ramen for the next month. Stay off social media, truly, don’t let that affect you because sometimes you’ll think that that’s how people are actually living.
Your fashion is so good. How would you describe your style and are there things that you wear on stage that you wouldn’t wear otherwise?
There’s nothing that I wear on stage that I don’t wear in real life. For a long time, I was wearing a lot of lace shirts, a lot of see-through shirts just because I wanted to be seen. Not as in like exhibitionist style, but it was just like people don’t usually see a woman that looks like me in a fully lace shirt. I was also comfortable wearing a fully lace shirt. Whenever I go shopping, I’ll always shop as in, these are clothes I need to be able to wear to work, while I’m on stage and now I wear for like an interview or scene or stuff like that. Because I need to be able to do multiple things with one set of clothes.
I feel like I know the answer to this, but which is better, New York pizza or Atlanta chicken wings?
Well, this is a test. I’m not a bread person. So, I don’t really eat pizza in general because it’s just big ass bread. I get it; there’s cheese and meat and sausage [pizza]. I fully understand what we’re dealing with but at the end of the day, it’s a big ass piece of bread. It’s really not that interesting. So, I’m not really a bread person. I’m not really a pasta person either. I’m sure you’re like, “You don’t like bread or pasta?! It’s bullshit. It’s just bread!
Are you feeling optimistic about the 2020 election?
Oh, he’s going to win again. Trump’s going to win again. Some people are like how can you say that? Like, pay attention dude.
You’re at “The Daily Show,” would you like to continue in the talk show world or in political comedy? And could you see yourself with a show like that in the future or do you have other plans?
I would do a late-night show. “The Daily Show” is amazing at doing what they do, and I have no desire to be the new kid on the block. They’re very good at what they do and they’ve been doing it for a long time, but for me, I would want to do, like a sci-fi show or something in that realm.
The things I liked most about the shows in the ‘90s is that they didn’t stop being Black. You think about “Living Single,” and “Living Single” was just like “Friends” but with Black people, so I would want to do something like that with people of color because I think the new thing — everyone’s trying to make sure we’re including everybody. We’re starting to categorize, we’re starting to break ourselves down again. You know you see those teen shows with a multicultural cast and it’s like these people don’t know each other. They’re just like oh, we’ve got to have a Black and we’ve got to have this and we’ve got to have that. Sometimes I see it and I’m like these people would not be friends. But like, I have a very diverse group of friends and I want to see more organic multicultural relationships. That’s what I want to see. I live in a very diverse area, and it was just like yeah, most of my neighbors are Mexican or from El Salvador. I can learn from them. They would teach me how to cook, they would help me with my Spanish. I like genuine relationships with my neighbors.
You’re right, it never makes any sense.
It never makes any sense, and it doesn’t make any sense because of white people. So these middle-aged white dudes can’t figure out why a Korean girl and a Black girl are friends anyway. I was working a pilot one time and my friend, her boyfriend at the time, was helping us with it because he does some other shows and he kept describing the house I lived in as a run down house. She was like I’m not ashamed of living in that house, why do you think my house is run down? And he kept wanting to be realistic and I was like what the fuck do you think a run down house is realistic? You think the audience is used to seeing poor black people? ‘Cause I was from Atlanta. They’re not used to seeing poor Black people. But it’s stuff like that, like you have to change the lighting room because these ten white dudes are not gonna understand well why would a straight dude be friends with a trans woman? I don’t know, jackass, maybe cause they’re friends?
It definitely feels like our society is like oh we’ve made a lot of progress, we have these people on the screen. But, as you’re explaining, it’s not deep. It’s just visuals and casting more so than the actual stories, which kind of is very accurate of the time we’re in, where there’s placebo change.
It’s all song and dance change. I know some of America is not affected by immigration laws. But one of my best friends growing up was Mexican. His family basically adopted me, so like his cousins were my cousins, his sisters were my sisters, this is my family. So when his brother got deported, that affected me. When my homeboy got deported, that affected me. Then his brother got stopped at the border coming back from seeing his dad, his brother is a permanent resident and they — I’ve literally seen people get deported. Like yanked out of their houses at seven in the morning on a Sunday. I’ve seen people physically taken off their couches I have to care about these issues because again, that’s my family, those are my friends. You think about the stuff that affects you, but also you’ve got to acknowledge some issues are messed up. And a lot of times people are like “This is the most divisive America has ever been!” and I said to somebody, we had a civil war. That’s the most divisive this country’s ever been, we started shooting at each other. Donald Trump just makes racists real bold, but at the same time, these people were probably always this bold.
Well, my final question is that you talk about in your Comedy Central special how you actually have to go outside to meet men. So you go to bars and stuff. I just want to know what is your ideal night in and what were you doing before you realized you have to go outside sometimes?
Let’s see, I’m at my house. The one thing I wish I could find, I’d have a delicious meal, a nice tasty meal, do some crafting. Probably hanging out with one of my friends. And then I am either watching one of two things: a British murder mystery or, because I love them so much, don’t know why, or Korean drama. That’s my life when I’m home. Korean dramas are so good. There’s a website called Viki, V-I-K-I, that has all of them. There’s this one called “The Flower in Prison,” I just finished it on Sunday. I think I’ve been watching that show for a year. Just one episode and they are a solid hour long, and I have a subscription so there’s no commercials so it’s a solid hour and they’re speaking in Korean with subtitles so you can’t not look at the screen or you’re gonna miss something.
Right, you have to be present.
You have to be present and paying attention because if you look down, you’re like “ahhh, damn it”. Now you’ve got to rewind it. That’s what I do to unwind.
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