Comedian Dulcé Sloan got to New York and couldn’t believe what white guys were asking her
‘At first I thought these boys were flirting, but then they’d get that look’
Hello, Friends! Stories of Dating, Destiny & Day Jobs by Dulcé Sloan is available now from Andscape Books. In this excerpt, she recounts the odd encounters that followed once she got a regular spot on The Daily Show after years of struggle.
At the beginning, every day in this new job felt like someone had just dropped me off in the center of the running of the bulls. Dust is flying, people are screaming, and you just have to start sprinting for your life and figure the s— out so you don’t get gored by a giant horn. I knew a few people on the show when I started, like Roy Wood Jr. and Michael Kosta, but other than that it was all new to me — the people (like Ronny Chieng and Desi Lydic), the place, and the rules. I had to study how the show was formatted, and then pitch bits and segments that fit into that format. It took a minute. When s— got crazy, Roy would pull me up away from the bulls, sit me on a fence, and explain how this worked or that worked. Then he’d toss me back in and tell me, “Good luck, kid,” and I’d figure it out from there.
The New York comedy scene was new to me, too. I was doing stand-up in a whole new city where I could be on TV one day and performing in the basement of a pizza shop the next. I could do shows and see shows until two in the morning if I wanted to, and I loved that. Because I was on The Daily Show, though, a lot of white boys at these clubs wanted to sit down and talk to me and ask me how I got the gig and can I introduce them to Trevor Noah. I didn’t even know these dudes. One guy started telling me how hard it was for white dudes to make it in comedy “in this climate.” I’m sorry, sir, but I am not exactly losing sleep over your so-called “oppression.” At first I thought these boys were flirting, but then they’d get that look, and not a look I liked. And then it would all come out.
“It’s just so hard for white guys right now. Maybe you can put in a word, or I can visit you on set and meet Trevor? You’re a writer, so maybe you can help me get into the writers’ room?”
“Excuse me, but — why are you telling me all this? Also — I am not a writer on The Daily Show.”
I knew exactly why they were telling me this, but if I see a chance to taunt a fool, I take it.
“Dulcé, all I’m saying is that if the show is hiring a writer, let me know.”
I didn’t get The Daily Show because I told some comic I didn’t even know to get me in the door. I had to audition, and to get that audition I had to be a good comic. One who, starting out, performed in all the states that touched Georgia and performed at colleges even after skidding across ice and snow. I put in my time. You can’t just be a mediocre white man with a microphone and make it in comedy anymore. For a long time, women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ folks have had to work twice as hard to get half as much, and now some of us are getting our due. The industry is changing and these white boys who were working half as much to get to everything are UPSET!
There is so much competition in New York that people get crazy. There’s also a whole legacy of the city just being HARD. Getting a gig is hard, getting noticed is hard, walking in a blizzard is hard as hell. Comedians in New York are out for blood because there is so much competition that someone really has to stand out to be noticed. It’s frustrating and disheartening to see really amazing comics just struggle and question themselves and their talent, while mediocre and bad comics think that they are owed the world and are not “getting what they deserve.” It is the wildest thing to watch. People say to have the confidence of a mediocre white man. No. Have the confidence of an open-mic comic who bombs all the time. They live in a castle in the sky.