Neopets and the Special K diet are phrases likely to send a nostalgia wave – be it chilling or delightful – down the spine of anyone who grew up in the 2000s. And that’s exactly what upcoming comedian and TikTok star Daniel Foxx wants.
In the last three years, the 29-year-old has amassed over 250,000 followers on TikTok, with his quick wit and campy humour. This summer, he’s delivering his stand-up debut, ‘Villain’, at the Edinburgh Fringe, alongside comedians like Rosie Jones, Louise Young and Josh Jones.
Ahead of his performances at Fringe, we spoke to Foxx about queer villains, nostalgia and growing up gay.
Hi Daniel! How are you? How are you feeling about your upcoming stand-up debut show, ‘Villain’?
Oh hello, GAY TIMES. I’m feeling excited actually, which is lovely – and a little nervous, which is probably healthy. As you say, it’s my ‘debut’, meaning it’s the first full hour of stand-up I’ve put together and is sort of the culmination of the last 4 years of my comedy career, laid out on a plate for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. It’s wild how much you do genuinely feel like an 18th-century debutante presenting herself to the court for appraisal. Bring me my ostrich feathers and my gown.
What can you tell us about ‘Villain’, and what can your audiences expect from the show?
In a nutshell, it’s a show about how every single villain, in every single film, book or show, is gay. The moment you start looking out for the queer-coding it becomes hilarious – cocktails, cats, eyeliner, sassy quips, muscular butch women, arch melodrama, the couture, the architecturally progressive homes… I could go on and on (and I do). At the same time, it’s a show about childhood, the 2000s, coming out, and growing up gay in a world where the main queer on your TV is literally Jafar.
It’s also the first time I’ve included songs in a performance. My other job is that I write musical theatre (I am in fact the very first gay man to be involved in musical theatre), but I’ve never mixed those two worlds of music and stand-up… But in a show about embracing your inner baddie, it just felt right to bring the piano onstage and pump out some truly vampy villain music.
The show is bringing us right back to the 2000s with relatable pop culture references. What’s your favourite nostalgic moment from that era?
I have a joke about Neopets which reliably results in seventy-five per cent of the audience going “What’s that?” – and I stand by it with my whole heart. Memories of toasting a pop tart, spraying myself with Versace Blue Jeans and settling down with one of those early Internet games (Neopets, Habbo Hotel – the refuge of 2000s queers everywhere) have such a special place in my heart.
I’m also absolutely fascinated by all the insane fad diets that we didn’t even bat an eyelid at back then. Special K diet? Lemon and Cayenne Pepper diet? I’m convinced the people who attempted those must still have diarrhoea to this day.
How has growing up gay shaped your approach and appreciation to comedy?
I think a lot of gay people – and actually anyone who has been bullied for who they are – tend to develop a really sharp sense of humour, because comedy is a weapon. So there’s some of that going on.
But on the other side there’s also this grand tradition of queer wit which I hold really close to my heart. You can look back on Oscar Wilde, and Truman Capote, and follow it through right up to Kenneth Williams, Paul O’Grady, Alan Carr, Wanda Sykes and Miriam Margoyles, and see that we’re a community that copes with adversity, and bonds together, with a really good laugh.
What else can we expect from you in the future?
Well, keeping to a theme, my musical ‘Unfortunate: The Untold Story of Ursula the Sea Witch’ is returning to London later this year and then going on tour. I’m obsessed with fabulous queer baddies, can you tell? I wrote it with musical powerhouses Robyn Grant and Tim Gilvin, and it’s got some killer songs, as well as being a brassy, funny, and very adult parody musical that celebrates Ursula the way she deserves.
There are also some really fun plans brewing for ‘Villain’ once the Edinburgh Fringe is finished – we’ll be announcing tour dates soon and I’m very excited to share it with everyone. We all deserve a little evil in our lives.