Phoebe Robinson is funny. Like, successful podcast plus podcast plus New York Times best-selling funny author.
But the Comedian has made a name for itself as something of a warrior for social and political equality.
After her initial podcast, "2 Dope Queens," which she hosts alongside Jessica Williams, propelled her into fame, "Robinson made headlines with her newest podcasting," "Sooo Many White Guys." "Intimate, funny conversations with all kinds of artists who (mostly) are not white dudes, "reads the podcast's description on the show's website.
Robinson made a pit-stop in the nation's capital on Oct. 25 to help kick off Bentzen Ball, an annual D.C. comedy festival started by comedian Tig Notaro. Kansas to promote her new book, "Everything's Trash, But It's Okay."
How to open Bentzen Ball with Tig Notaro?
It was great fun. I mean, I've done this festival a couple of times and I've really gotten to know Tig over the years. I've worked with her on "2 Dope Queens" and, personally, when I'm in L.A. I hang out with her. She's a friend of mine. So when they asked, "Yeah, that sounds really cool, but this is a lot of pressure. I'll do it, but it would be cool. Tig would do it with me. "And she was totally game. We had the best time. She's so funny and sweet and awesome. We could have just been hanging out at the same time, and it was really great. , , , And the audience was really awesome, too.
Do you cater your material to the city you're in, e.g., make more political jokes for a D.C. audience?
I really want to talk about what I want to do because I think that's what works for any kind of performer – just being true to yourself. I think if you try to shape yourself for whatever audience you are performing in front of, that's when you get into trouble or feel like you're not authentic, or you do not perform as well. So, if I'm going to talk about my boyfriend because I have 10 minutes of material about him, then, yeah, I'm gonna do that if I'm in D.C. or in New York or Australia. I've never been to Australia, but I'm sure I would like to have my boyfriend jokes there.
You had a short trip. Did you get to enjoy D.C. at all?
I went out to dinner [at Tokyo Underground] with Tig and my friend / publicist Sam, and we got ramen, and it was cute. We were just like huddled up sipping broth and being cute old ladies.
You performed at Bentzen Ball as part of your book tour. What's the gist of the new book?
It's another essay collection like my first one, "You Can not Touch My Hair [And Other Things I Still Have to Explain]"I was not planning on writing a book so soon after the first one, but it was really inspired by the 2016 election and feeling child of crying and sad, and crying in the back of Lyudes and Ubers. It was just like, "Oh, this country is so not what I hoped to be," and I'm really excited about seeing people in real life and being really excited about being physically and socially active. , , , So I was like, "I think things are going to be okay.
Is there a certain essay that you feel the most connected to?
Hmm. I think you should just read the whole book. [Laughs.] Real talk, just read the whole thing. It's a quick read. It's not David Foster Wallace, it's not 1.000-page nonsense. You can get through these pages, so read all of it. There's some fun stuff: I talk about [getting] out of debt and racial dating, meeting Oprah and a section on feminism, U2, it's great. So read all of it, guys.
Speaking of your love for U2, why the bono obsession?
You know, I started listening to U2 when I was 13 when I heard them on radio, and I was just like, "They're really cool; who are these guys? "I just got obsessed with them and listened to their stuff and started going to their shows. It's a very good one-sided relationship. Probably the best one-sided relationship of my life.
Back to you: Your essay on feminism has generated some buzz. What do you want to take away from it?
If we really want to advance society and have equality for everyone, it has to include all women. It can not just be white women of a certain class. It has to women of color, queer women, women of lower class if you want to call it, women of different educational backgrounds. When I read the book, I just wanted to talk about how I think the women's March is great and impactful in a lot of ways, and there's a lot of excitement and passion, but I did not see that for things like trans rights or Black Lives Matter or immigration. So I just think if they really want to be able to stick to things like that, they can be protected. , , then there needs to be a concerted effort to not only. And even if the experience is not something that you've gone through, it does not mean it's not [valid], That's kind of the gist of the essay, and I'm hopeful that things will turn around, but I just think it's really going to require a lot of work within feminism to do so.
How do you relay your messages to people who do not follow your work?
I really just want to do something I enjoy talking about things I want to talk about, whether they're light and funny about pop culture, or about more political matters or social issues. I'm not really trying to seek people out. My job number one is to be a comedian, so that's really where my focus is, so if I can weave in some other stuff, that's great. But if they really want to be on and off, then they'll be into me, and they're anti-that, they're not going to get into me, and that's fine. You do not have to listen to my work.
In a lot of your work you focus on including traditionally unheard voices. Why is that important to you?
I think they deserve, because I was in that position for so long and, honestly, quietly in a lot of ways. I think I just like really talented, amazing, different voices – people who sound like me, people who have sound like me, people who have completely different backgrounds – I'm just like, there's no reason why their stories can not be heard and their visions can not be seen. I think that's always been part of my comedy and part of what I've always wanted to do.
Is it ever funny?
I think that's just how I operate in general. , , , I want to be open-minded and want to have a space for everybody. I'm a sarcastic person, a funny person, so I think I'm just looking at the world with sort of the lenses like, "How can this be funny? This is amusing to me, "and I am a child of go from there.
What's next for you?
Taping "2 Dope Queens" with Jessica in December and then a movie called "What Men Want" starting Taraji P. Henson that comes out in February. , , , Amy Aniobi, who's a writer and producer for "Insecure," said Amazon as we speak. And, yeah, just auditioning, hoping to do more stuff, hoping to do more creator stuff.