Ahead of her Lawrence visit, Phoebe Robinson of ‘2 Dope Queens’ explains how everything is trash
photo by: Contributed photo
Phoebe Robinson has been successful in various kinds of comedy, whether the forum is standup, podcasts, television or writing.
But she feels people may not see what’s really going on in her life based on what’s presented in those forms.
In her latest book, “Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay,” which was released last week, she said she pulls back the curtain to show there’s more to the story. She also critiques America’s current political and cultural climate.
The book is her second comedic collection of essays. Her first book, “You Can’t Touch My Hair (And Other Things I Still Have to Explain),” was a New York Times best-seller.
Along with her books, Robinson has appeared in movies and is the co-host of the popular podcast and TV show “2 Dope Queens” with Jessica Williams. The podcast is a live-recorded standup and storytelling show in Brooklyn, often featuring comedic guests, particularly those from underrepresented social groups.
HBO announced the show is coming back for a second season next year. The first season consisted of four hourlong specials based on the podcast.
This week, Lawrence residents will get the chance to see the dope queen in person. Robinson will appear at the Lied Center as part of her book tour.
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday. Tickets are $20 for the general public and $10 for University of Kansas students.
Ahead of the event, Robinson spoke to the Journal-World about her upcoming visit, her new book and the next season of her HBO show. This interview was edited for length.
Lawrence Journal-World: You are a standup comedian, podcast/television host and an author. What can people expect at your show in Lawrence?
Phoebe Robinson: I’m going to share some stories (from the book) and do a Q&A. I feel like, because I just did a tour last year, I’ve done a lot of standup and a lot of that. Obviously with “2 Dope Queens” people have seen me do improvised conversations with a partner.
So I thought for this book tour to mostly do a mix of storytelling and reading excerpts from my book that have some really funny snippets in there. I think college students will appreciate something that feels a little more organic than just kind of sharing this work that I’ve done.
LJW: The title of your new book is “Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay.” What was your inspiration for writing the book?
Robinson: After the 2016 election, I was sort of like “Oh man, I didn’t expect the election to turn out this way.” I was a little down, bummed out and depressed. But then I was really inspired when I saw a lot of people mobilizing online, especially college students talking about midterm elections. When I was in college, we never talked about midterm elections.
Even though things are a little muddy right now and things are very divisive and there’s a lot of infighting going on in politics and a level of class and grace is not present right now in American politics, I became inspired and moved by what I saw in my day-to-day life. I thought, “I think everything is going to be OK.”
LJW: So it sounds like a perfect time to come to a university to talk to students about these issues with the midterms coming up in a couple of weeks.
Robinson: Yeah, totally. We talk about politics with all these pundits and these talk shows, but so often they don’t consider the voices of young people and the ideas and visions they have for this country, so I’m really excited to make this stop on the tour. I’m actually sitting with the future and I want to hear from them and learn from them.
LJW: In the book, you also wrote about your personal experiences a lot. On a recent appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” you called yourself “garbage.” How does this book go into your personal life and your experiences?
Robinson: Because social media is so prevalent, especially Instagram, we see the highlight reels of everyone’s lives. I think when “2 Dope Queens” began to explode, a lot of people were telling me “You made it. You have the No. 1 podcast in the country.”
But when “2 Dope Queens” came out, I was $45,000 in student loan debt. For me, I’m having a great success, but in the book I wanted to be honest about what was going on outside of what is being presented. Whether it’s my struggles with alcoholism or money. On “2 Dope Queens,” I think I was seen as a single, empowered woman and I didn’t really talk about the (issues) of being single.
I just kind of wanted to pull back the curtain. We all have parts of ourselves that we present to the world but that’s not the full story.
LJW: The HBO version of “2 Dope Queens” is coming back in 2019. How do you feel about a second season of the show?
Robinson: I think going into a second season there is more confidence there. When we pitched it to HBO they said, “Great, go ahead and make it.” It’s really exciting to be like, “Yes, we’re on HBO. This is a comedian’s dream.”
And then you have that moment where you’re like, “Holy crap, I’m going to be on HBO. This is the big leagues. This is the ‘Sopranos,’ ‘The Wire’ and freaking ‘Game of Thrones.’ We can’t be the garbage of HBO.” It has to live in that space of these award-winning shows that are part of the zeitgeist. There was a little bit of pressure we felt (taking the podcast to television). It’s just a little more prime time; this is the real deal.
We overcame whatever nerves we had and made sure the show embodied the spirit of the podcast the best we could, and I think it really resonates with people. So for season two, we know what we are doing. It feels like a celebration. I think this is a “have fun” season.