Fast-rising comedian and social media star Daniel Foxx is taking his acclaimed debut show Villain on tour. It’s a show about growing up in the 1990s and 2000s, getting his revenge on school bullies and realising that the film characters you most identify with are the baddies. Foxx, 29, has been described as ‘utterly hilarious and effortlessly charismatic’ by Rolling Stone Magazine and has built up a huge social media following thanks to his quickfire character sketches. 

 

You made your Edinburgh Fringe solo debut this summer and featured in Dave’s Joke of the Fringe Top Ten with: ‘My grandma describes herself as being in her “twilight years” which I love because they’re great films.’ How long have you been doing stand-up?  

I first dabbled with it when I was studying at university, around nine years ago. I think I did it for about a year and then stopped to pursue musical theatre writing, which is my other great love. But I properly threw myself into stand-up in a serious way (if there is such a thing) around the end of 2018. 

 

What is Villain about?  

It’s an academic treatise on how every villain is a raging homo. And it’s also an autobiographical show about growing up in the 1990s and 2000s. Im nostalgic for it, but it wasnt the easiest time – we were still in the latter days of section 28, same-sex marriage had yet to be legalised, and ‘gay’ was the insult for everything at school. Gay equalled bad. And when I thought back on who the bad” people were on TV back then, well they were always the campest men and butchest women youve ever seen. 

 

Your show will particularly appeal to anyone who was a child in that era watching Harry Potter movies and Disney animations. It’s been described as a love letter to famous villains.  

Thats exactly what it is. I used to find it really frustrating that the only time you saw a camp man was when he was twirling his moustache or whispering to a snake and plotting evil, but now I think its quite iconic. Theyre very much the fun outcasts, wearing couture and doing their own thing. Personally I love plotting evil over a cocktail. 

 

So your theory is that villains tend to be gay?  

Queer codedis the academic term (get me).Meaning its not explicitly stated – you dont see Jafar swanning off to Agrabah Pride or whatever – but there he is, swanning about in a robe and a feather and working that eyeliner like nobodys business. This isn’t a modern phenomenon, by the way: look at Bond villains with their cats, cocktails and architecturally progressive houses. Look at Satan, gossiping with women over a piece of fruit. 

 

Your solo show Villain combines stand-up and comic songs to great effect. You’ve also written the lyrics for the musical Unfortunate: Ursula The Sea Witch. Are you musically trained?  

No. Well, I had a few piano lessons as a child from a lovely elderly lady with the most disgusting cat which would yawn on you and smell awful. But I mainly learnt to play by teaching myself Kate Bush songs from YouTube tutorials. You know, the standard pastimes of an 11-year-old boy. 

 

The tour is going to lots of different places including New York…  

Yes, Newcastle, New York, Reading – the classic trifecta. Im very excited to take Villain to New York. I was really lucky earlier in the year to attend Instagrams Met Gala party and did a couple of gigs while I was there. Which is handy, because I now know there are some things Ill have to translate:I do a bit about my grandma thinking the Q in ‘LGBTQ’ stood for Quorn – and they don’t really know about Quorn over there. Or vicars. Or, indeed, Clare Balding – a vital reference for my art. 

 

During lockdown you quickly built-up a following with your TikTok and Instagram characters such as middle-class mum, hell’s receptionist and supervillains’ gay assistant, but you don’t do them in this show do you?  

No, I dont – but the stand-up has the same sort of tone and vibe. Sinister meets boujie? Something like that. So hopefully if people find the sketches funny, they will like the show. 

 

Do you think you might do your characters onstage in the future?  

I might! But I really love stand-up, and the stage feels like the place where I can do that, whilst mincing around in my kitchen in front of a greenscreen feels like the perfect outlet for the character comedy. Its nice to be able to do both. 

I’ll always do live performance. I love looking at the careers of people like Alan Carr, where no matter what they’ve done and the heights they’ve reached, there’s always a tour every few years. I think there’s something about the live aspect that you don’t get from anything else. But while I certainly think of myself as a live performer, there’s also something really nice about sketch – its very meritocratic. You can pop something online, without anyone elses say-so, and if other people think it’s funny then it will do well. 

 

Are you from a showbiz family?  

No, not at all – though everyone in my family is funny. My parents are retired now, but my mum was an occupational therapist and my dad is a doctor of aquatic biology who worked in the pet care industry. So more of a science household, but comedy was always around. Wed go on family holidays to Devon or Yorkshire and laugh along to cassettes of Billy Connolly or Jasper Carrott. They were thrilled when I said I wanted to be a comedian. 

 

What were your earliest ambitions?  

Oh, well I was a very ambitious child. I think at my earliest I wanted to be an author and sorcerer. But growing up in Hampshire, in what I couldn’tt even call a village – just like, a collection of fields with a bus stop – I dreamed of moving to the metropolis. I had delusions that I would move to London and become the new Oscar Wilde, and that would be that. Then I went to university where everyonealsoapparently thought they would be that, so I said okay, well then I shall be a very sultry and impressive jazz singer”. …And, finally, when I kept writing jokes instead of profound lyrics, I realised Id just have to be a comedian instead.   

 

Who are your comedy favourites?  

I mentioned Alan Carr – I also love Tom Allen and Mae Martin, and I went through a real phase of just bingeing through Simon Amstell’s stuff. I love that gossipy fun of Alan, and the your-best-friend-telling-you-a-storyvibe of Mae.  

 

In the show you mention your boyfriend, who is a wrestler…  

Yes – my house consists of me, a dog, and a professional wrestler from Grimsby. I thought I would enjoy watching him perform live, but frankly, I cant look. Its deathmatch wrestling, which means barbed wire, broken glass, real blood, and jumping from great heights. There’s a video online of him dropping from a second-floor balcony onto a concrete floor. Im somewhere in the crowd watching and thinking,am I about to become a full-time carer?’ 

 

You talk in the show about being bullied at school. Is your success a way of having your revenge on the bullies?  

Oh, absolutely revenge. I was a very camp kid in my own way, but had it bullied out of me. I spent most of my late teens and early twenties pretending to be someone I wasnt – lowering my voice and wearing deliberately bland clothing. I have a recording of me doing stand-up at university where I’m speaking in a monotone, wearing a plain shirt and brogues. I watch that now and think who areyou?. Over the last few years, I’ve been on a mission to rediscover that flamboyant 13-year-old and own my inner villain. Gardeners talk about re-wilding – I’m re-camping. 

danielfoxx.co.uk 

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