For one Friday, standup comedian and Daily Show correspondent Dulce Sloan is going to have the rare and impossible honor of being in two places at once. In DC, she’ll be performing on The New Negroes show as part of BYT and Tig Notaro’s Bentzen Ball. But the rest of the country will also get to see her debut television special, as it premieres as part of this year’s Comedy Central Half-Hour series.
Given her correspondent gig, Sloan is no stranger to viewers of the network. In her role, her clear voice brings humor to important and at times unfunny issues like policing and cultural appropriation. While the material is written for her, she brings it to life in a highly unique way. But in her half hour, she took the opportunity to use that “heightened version of herself” to speak on more personal experiences than might come up on the show.
In some ways, it seemed to differ from how she approached the sets leading up to the special; she noted, “a lot of times, at a lot of clubs, it’s me saying, ‘I gotta figure out if this works or not.’ So when I’m working new bits, it’s not always, ‘I’m gonna give you this elevated me, because I’m really working right now.’” By the time she took the stage in New Orleans last February to film, however, she’d harnessed that voice honed on the Daily Show set—and the special is all the better for it. Her half hour is smooth, cohesive, and hilarious…much of which Sloan attributes to her life before comedy.
“I have a theater brain. I was a theater kid growing up, [and] I have a theater degree, so I kind of like giving them a beginning, a middle, and an end—even if it is sometimes with shorter sets. And while this is Sloan’s first televised special, it is shorter than her typical hourlong performances, done primarily at colleges. As she built out this inaugural TV outing, she leaned on the advice fellow Atlanta comic Rob Haze gave her early on as she built her hour for colleges: break things into chunks.
[For the special] I did a chunk on New York, I did a chunk on LA, and I did a chunk on relationships. I started doing that with colleges because when I first started doing them, that was the first time I had to do an hour. I was talking to Rob Haze about it because he’s done a bunch of colleges, and he said the best thing to do if you’re doing an hour, is to do twenty minutes of material, twenty minutes of talking to them and engaging with them, and then twenty more minutes of material. Kind of just breaking things into blocks – however you want to […] Really just using a template on how to break that time down.
What results is a memorable special that is easy for the viewer to follow and find the funny in, confirming Rolling Stone’s assessment of her style: “she speaks and they simply fall in line behind her.” And opportunities are, in fact, lining up for Sloan. In addition to her place in this class of Half Hour comics, she’s also been added to the cast of FOX’s upcoming animated series The Great North. In it, she’ll be joining an ensemble of comedy heavyweights including Jenny Slate, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, and Paul Rust. When I asked her what other milestones she’d like to add to her fast-growing career, she thought for a moment before erupting with excitement at the possibility of a dream: guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race.
“I have been watching RuPaul’s Drag Race since the first season, and I’ve been trying to be a judge since I got on the Daily Show.” She recalled a time when she lived in LA without cable trying to keep up with the show (“I had to watch. I have gone to leaps and bounds to make sure I can watch this show”), all the way to a mutual lovefest with queen Nina West on the Emmys red carpet (“the whole time we were talking to each other, it was ‘I can’t believe I’m meeting you!’ ‘I can’t believe I’m meeting you!’ ‘You’re my favorite.’ ‘You’re my favorite!’ ‘I love you!’ ‘I love you!’”). So with any luck, and hopefully what gentle influence this reporter can provide in print, you’ll be seeing Sloan in the guest judge seat on an upcoming season.
For now, viewers can look forward to hearing her clear, unique, and hilarious comedic voice come out from behind the correspondent’s desk and onto the Half-Hour stage this Friday at 11pm ET.