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The Daily Show’s Dulcé Sloan swears by the healing power of Atlanta fight music

Rich Fury/Getty Images
Rich Fury/Getty Images
Graphic: Natalie Peeples
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In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.

When comedian and actor Dulcé Sloan isn’t corresponding on The Daily Show or captivating audiences with her straight-shooting stand-up, she’s digging into beloved Black cultural staples as the host of Starburns Audio’s The Blackass Show podcast. It’s an ideal setup for the Southern native, who gets to tap into her wealth of pop culture knowledge for each lively conversation with her guests, who can include anyone from fellow comedians to a former writer on Living Single. Some of her recent episodes included close looks at Martin, Friday, and Thea—a conversation that she was particularly excited about when she spoke to The A.V. Club.

“It was really interesting to hear what [show creator and star Thea Vidale] went through in the mid-’90s with her show,” Sloan said. “Hearing her having to fight for diversity in her own writers room, at one point I said, ‘We’re still having these problems. It’s still the same fight.’” In a candid round of 11 Questions, Sloan shares how representation has affected her life, her favorite (if only slightly awkward) sister-brother Halloween costume, and her one gripe with in-school sex education.

1. If you made a candle, what would it smell like?

Dulcé Sloan: I don’t really fuck with candles. I do know that when I get, like, a little plug-in situation, I’m always going for a clean linen scent—but not too much like fresh laundry. I like a clean scent. I’m not too into floral smells, because a lot of scented stuff makes my eyes itch. So for me, I would want a clean, fresh scent, like the thing you actually want to buy at Bath & Body Works as opposed to the glittery fruit thing you end up buying. Something that’s real delicate to the nose, not anything that’ll make me pass out in 15 minutes.

The A.V. Club: So something akin to a pleasant spring snap in the air, but a scent?

DS: Right. Say you lived near a florist or something and a breeze comes through. It would be like, “Ooh, that’s a delicate fragrance.” An essence, perhaps.

2. What’s your favorite album from high school?

DS: East 99 [Eternal] by Bone Thugs-N-Harmony.

AVC: Did you have a go-to track?

DS: I believe it was track six, “Mr. Bill Collector.” I used to fall asleep listening to it, which may explain why I’m such a rough woman now. That’s not true, I’m a delicate flower, a fine magnolia, but I don’t take no shit. Oh, also the original version of “Crossroads,” because the version that everyone knows is actually a remix.

3. What conspiracy theory do you think is the most plausible?

DS: Aliens being real. The universe is too big! Have you ever been to a planetarium or a science museum and looked at all the universes? Like every planet, every star that you see in a planetarium could have planets around them. So if there’s too many stars in the sky to count and at least one of them has a planet, we’re the only ones living and breathing and getting on Instagram every day?

AVC: What do you think it’s going to take for us to get the confirmation that this is something that we need to just accept as a reality?

DS: A spaceship landing on the White House lawn, but then everyone’s going to say, “This is movie magic!”

4. What’s the first time you were disillusioned by politics?

DS: I think the first time was when Bill Clinton was running for president. I was probably like 9 years old, and my mother was like, “I’m gonna vote for him, but I don’t really fuck with him.” I heard her having a conversation with one of my aunts, and she was like, “He’s spending all this time smiling in Black people’s faces, but I’m telling you now...” He gets elected, and then him and [Hillary Clinton] come up with that superpredator law, and then that “three strikes” shit, and all of these things that would negatively impact Black and brown communities. But he was smiling in our faces the whole time playing saxophones and shit. So my mother put me on game early because they do this to us all the time. So I think that was the first time I was just like, “Oh, there’s a stain to this.”

5. Who would you call if you needed help burying a body?

DS: My mom, definitely.

AVC: What do you think her first response would be upon learning that you needed to bury a body? 

DS: “What did he do to make you kill him? What did this man do to make you take him out?”

6. What’s your favorite Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?

DS: I think I was in the seventh grade. Most of our childhood we weren’t allowed to celebrate Halloween, but one year I was Betty Rubble from The Flintstones. She got this felt, which was really hot, but I had the whole headband, the dress, everything. For my brother, she thought she was getting the material to make Fred Flintstone, but she got the colors wrong—she actually came home with brown fabric instead of orange fabric. So my brother ended up being Barney Rubble, and me and my brother went as Betty and Barney Rubble for Halloween. We went over to my aunt’s house, and everyone was like, “Why are y’all Betty and Barney Rubble? Why are they a married couple?” My mother was like, “I thought I was getting Fred Flintstone! But the costumes are made now. They’ll be fine, they’re kids, who cares?”

7. If proximity to your industry was a moot point, where would you most like to live and why?

DS: Somewhere warm, that would be fun. I was in Puerto Rico for months shooting a movie. I love Puerto Rico. I also love L.A., and Austin’s cute. I’m not going anywhere cold. I’m talking sandals year-round. I’d probably live in Miami. Yep, I’d go back home. Yup, Miami is a sandals-year-round type of thing. The food’s good, the beaches are nice, it’s where my family’s from, and it actually rains. It’s very green. You can do a lot of fun things.

8. How did you learn about the birds and the bees?

DS: By accident. I went to a summer camp, there were older kids talking about it, and then my mom had just fixed all the wrong stuff that they told us. And then I learned about it in school, because Florida does sex ed in the fifth grade, and Georgia doesn’t do it until, like, the eighth grade. My teacher, who taught math and science, was a little sneaky. Your parents had to give permission for you to learn sex ed. My mother was like, “No, you’re too young for this.” She didn’t give permission for me to take it, so I had to do different work. Now mind you, there were other classrooms. I could have been sent to another classroom easily. Instead, they kept me in the same classroom to do the other work, and I could still hear everything that was happening. Then when you get to the ninth grade you get all of the additional information and a video to show you where babies come from. I always disagreed with them splitting up the boys and the girls.

AVC: Was that an issue you rose with the teacher at the time?

DS: I was just like, “Why can’t we see [the boys’] video?” And they said, “Because it shows ‘man parts.’” And [the boys] couldn’t see our video because it showed a woman giving birth. A couple of us—boys and girls—were like, “We should all be watching the birthing video, at least.” The teachers didn’t think it was appropriate. All of us were born! This is how we got here! We should all see where babies literally come from. Everyone should see what their mother had to go through.

9. What’s the pettiest hill you’re willing to die on?

DS: What’s an example of this?

AVC: A lot of people, for instance, are really passionate about the necessity of the Oxford comma, or the idea that raisins aren’t good snacks.

DS: Oh! For me, it’s when people say the “L” in “salmon.” Pronunciation of words is my petty hill. I went on a date with a guy, and in the course of the conversation he said “salmon” [pronouncing the “L”] and “sword” [pronouncing the “W”], and I was like, “I am never going to speak to this man ever again.”

10. What pop culture or art do you turn to when you’ve had a bad day?

DS: When Lil Jon and Mannie Fresh started deejaying on Instagram, that’s what I needed. Lil Jon started playing early 2000s, fighting-in-the-club Atlanta music. What a time to be alive! I remember going out one night during peak “Knuck If You Buck” season. I knew the DJ, and after two hours, he eventually stopped the music, comes on the mic, and says, “Hey man, we’re not playing ‘Knuck If You Buck.’ We just got new furniture. Stop requesting it, I’m not playing it. We just. Got. New. Furniture.” And everyone was like, “Okay, cool,” and accepted it, because we knew exactly what the hell he meant. So any of that “fighting in the club” music works. I was getting ready to do a show one day, and I was sad about a boy. I started playing Jeezy’s first album, and I was like, “This makes me feel better.”

11. If you could find out the day you’re going to die, would you?

DS: Nuh-uh. I’d want to find out the day I’m going to get married. That’s more necessary information to me. Knowing that date isn’t going to do a thing for me.

12. Bonus 12th question from Ben Schwartz: Which TV theme song makes you smile the most when you sing it?

DS: The theme song to the show Red Dwarf. It’s this British sci-fi comedy, and it is my favorite TV show of all time. My British friends make fun of me for it.

AVC: What about the song makes you so happy?

DS: Because I started watching that show when it premiered in, like, 1988. Unlike most British shows that only do three or four seasons, they have continued to make shows—it just came out with the 12th season last year. It was my favorite show as a kid. Me and my brother loved it. We’ll still text each other Red Dwarf stuff. It reminds me of staying up late, because they would show all the British comedies on PBS Saturday night. My mom would even wake us up if we’d fallen asleep, because it was our favorite show. We all still quote it to each other sometimes.

AVC: Without knowing who the next person we speak to is, what would you like to ask them?

DS: Is there a Black actor or actress that has made an impact on you? If so, who and how?

AVC: Who was your greatest influence?

DS: Nell Carter. I think seeing her on TV was impactful for me because that was the first time I had ever seen a woman who looked like me on TV. And then seeing Queen Latifah on Living Single was the first time I ever saw a woman who looked like me who had a very vibrant romantic life. It was the first time that I saw women who looked like the women in my family on TV, women that I knew.