Ever since she joined the team of correspondents at The Daily Show With Trevor Noah in 2017, comedian Dulcé Sloan has made a name for her self as one of the program’s most hilarious — and outspoken — cast members. Her earliest segments discussed cultural appropriation and camaraderie among African-American women with equal parts humor and insight. More recently, her work has covered oft-quoted romance studies, black women’s support of Joe Biden, and other notable topics.
On Friday, Sloan’s first half-hour comedy special will premiere as part of Comedy Central’s most recent rollout its flagship series Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents. Yes, she’s still doing plenty of satirical news coverage for Noah and company, but the Atlanta-born comic hasn’t stopped slinging jokes since she moved from Los Angeles to New York two years ago. And while working for The Daily Show and doing stand-up are what Sloan rightfully calls “completely different beasts,” the latter is where she truly shines.
The comedian spoke with Uproxx about doing both, how they do and do not affect each other, and what she has learned — and is still learning — about her craft and herself ahead of Friday’s premiere.
When we last spoke, you had just moved to New York to start working at The Daily Show, so I couldn’t help but notice your opening bit was all about how cold and terrible the city is.
Oh, yeah, I still hate this place.
Is it just the winter? Or, is there something else about the city that bugs you?
Oh, it’s the winter, but the summer heat is wrong, too. It’s too many humans. The city, on a regular basis, is trying to kill you. I don’t like going toe-to-toe with a municipality. That bothers me. But, yeah… it’s too many humans, the attitude of the people here is just really messed up. Everyone is all happy and like, “I survived New York!” But what is that, really? New York has given me vibes similar to a very abusive relationship and I’m not here for it. Everyone has Stockholm syndrome about it.
Those who have never been here just don’t understand how bad the summer’s trash days smell.
The cold garbage smells, too. The spring garbage smells. People keep acting like this place is amazing, but sometimes you just can’t get to work. Sometimes you can’t even get home — and that’s on the same day. It’s just not set up for people to thrive, is what I’m saying. Everything feels like a challenge and I don’t understand why it’s like that. It’s just a city. Why does it get so much hype? I don’t get it. I think people hype it up so much because it was so hard to live here.
This being your first half-hour, is this all-new material? Or, are you including jokes you’ve perfected over the years?
It’s a combination. Some of the bits are bits I used to do. Since I moved here, they got new life into them, especially because there’s a chunk about being in New York. There’s also a chunk about being in Los Angeles. I’m also talking about being in and out of relationships, wanting kids, and stuff like that. Wanting to get married and all that. These are things that I’ve probably been developing over the past few years. So, yeah, it’s a combination of the last couple of years.
Once a joke is on tape, some comics will never touch it again. Others will keep using it as they build the next set. What’s your approach?
I mean, you always have new material that you’re working on, but it’s not like I’m going to only be doing newer bits. When I’m on the road, I do a whole hour. These are all jokes that I would do in my hour. Some of them I’m not doing anymore, but some of them I still am. It just depends on what’s newer and what’s older, or what I want to talk about. I usually have over an hour of time to use up, so I can flip around what I want to do in any given show.
Has your time on The Daily Show affected how you approach stand-up comedy? Obviously, they’re two very different things, but sometimes things spill over into each other.
No, they’re completely different beasts. I still think of a joke as a joke, but being at the show hasn’t changed my writing style because I’m not a writer. When we come up with a piece for The Daily Show, especially when we’re in the field, a lot of what we do then is based on my ideas or jokes or whatever. But we also meet with the writers beforehand. We have meetings with them to discuss what we want to do and say. But out in the field, at least most of the time, we’re free to come up with our own bits. We’re usually working on the fly out there.
As for desk pieces in the studio, the writers mainly write those. We’re in the room with the writers, collaborating with them to come up with ideas, while making sure it’s all in our own voice. We’re adding jokes and tags, but they’re doing most of the writing. So, to answer your question, it hasn’t really changed how I do my stand-up. Though it has changed the way I consume news. Before, I would just take it in the news and be like, “Alright, this is the news. I’m done.” But now, when I take in the news, it’s usually for the purpose of figuring out how I can pitch something to the show. I’m always thinking, “Can we do a joke about this?” I’m reading the news through a different filter now. It’s not just about me taking in information. Now, I’m taking it all in with the intent of creating something else.
Are you also watching more news as a result? These days, it seems we’re getting new, big things every hour.
I do. I am taking in more news because there’s this thing that happens whenever something big happens. I’m like, “Well, of course, we’re going to talk about this on the show — but what should I talk about on the show?” There’s that individual aspect to it.
You’ve described your Daily Show work and stand-up writing as “different beasts,” and you’re completely right. But with all the news and information you’re taking in, do you think it ever spills over into your comedy? Or, does that just never happen?
It’s just not how I usually do comedy. Though there have been a few times when I had a particular subject I had to address. Just for my sanity, I had to do a joke about black women getting killed by the police, and about how hard it is to talk about that when you’re dating a black man or know black men. Because, for a long time, I truly didn’t know that black women had to worry about the police because we were only talking about black men as if they were the only ones in danger. But black women have been getting killed the entire time and no one’s talking about it. Not even black people. I felt I had to speak. So, that was one of the times where I had to come up with a bit about this thing because my brain has been processing it nonstop. I wanted to talk about it because I wanted more people to know about it. Y’all have to know that this is a thing that’s been going on the whole time, but even I didn’t know that was the case.
That was one of the few times I knew I had to talk about a news item like that with jokes. It was a way for me to emotionally process it, to better understand the information I was learning about. But 99 percent of the time, what I talk about on stage is just whatever random things are inspiring me. Like, one time I was talking to one of my friends on the phone about that Carrie Underwood song “Before He Cheats.” I just couldn’t get it out of my head. I was like, “She has a felony. She’s nuts. What is she talking about? Everything she’s describing is a felony.” My friend thought my rant was hilarious, so I turned it into something.
Your half-hour has one of the best ending segments I’ve ever seen. It’s short and sweet and I couldn’t stop laughing about it. I don’t want to spoil it too much, but what inspired that move?
I just did it one day. I was doing a show one time and I was just done talking. Comics think it’s great and the audience doesn’t always get it. But the thing is, I was just done. Finished. It was just so ridiculous. Eventually, I found out it only really worked in smaller rooms. If you’re in a big room with a huge audience, it doesn’t work, but the smaller rooms with smaller audiences always seem to get it. They think it’s funny. But yeah, that was just me being done.
‘Comedy Central Stand-Up Presents… Dulcé Sloan’ premieres Friday, October 25th at 11 p.m. ET.