Phoebe Robinson might have burst onto a much wider comedy scene recently as the co-host of one of the planet’s most popular comedy podcasts, 2 Dope Queens, which she co-hosts with another very funny Brooklynite, Jessica Williams, but Robinson has been making her own jokes, and doing it very well, well-before ear buds gave her material to so many more people. She has appeared on Seth Meyers’s show doing standup (Robinson on interracial dating: the point of it is “to make hot Lisa Bonet babies… to create an army of vaguely beige-colored, 27-year-old gap models names Quinoa.”) She also did a monthly show at Union Hall before it also became home to the live recording of 2 Dope Queens. So listen up, and laugh unabashedly with one of the funniest women in comedy today.
When was the first time you remember making someone laugh? What happened?
Oh, geez. My memory is terrible.tumblr.org. I can barely remember who I lost my butt virginity to. Hardy har-har. Seriously, everyone remembers the date, time, location, and person they lost their BV to. It’s like, “Where were you when Kennedy was shot and where were you when someone tapped on your hurt locker?” Wait, this is going to be read by people like my parents, right? So I should be less ignorant, huh? Cool. I honestly do not remember the first time I made someone laugh. I will say this though: I was a very melodramatic kid. And I was having a conversation with my parents about something fantastical my classmate said—I was in third grade at the time, I think—and my mom and dad were convinced the kid was lying. I responded, “He has never lied to me. In my whole life.” Like, I was eight, dude. Yet I lived my life with the severity of a basic B on “Days of Our Lives.”
What is the toughest part about being on the comedy scene in Brooklyn today? What is the best?
Toughest part? Idk that there is a tough part, to be honest. There are tons of shows, great audiences, and you can bounce around fairly easily between spots. I’m not just saying that because I live in Brooklyn, but I just feel like the comedy scene in Brooklyn is great. Only good stuff and, to me, the best part is that it’s super diverse. I get to perform for people of all races, sexual orientations, different ages, etc. So it’s really nice to try out bits for crowd.
Oh, I will say this, though. Sometimes, NYC/Brooklyn crowds can be too cool for school, so you’ll have to loosen people up. Comedy is not about being cool, so people who come to shows, I’m thinking specifically of hipsters, and are holding back because of they wanna be above it all, that can really burn my toast sometimes. But they’re young. They’ll get older and realize life is way too freaking short to be posturing and they’ll want to laugh, eat bad food as much as possible, and do other “not so cool” things before they die.
Who do you find funny?
So many people!!! My bestie and brother from another mother Baron Vaughn makes me laugh all the time whether it’s on stage or IRL. Other comics/writers I love: Michelle Buteau, Naomi Ekperigin, Nore Davis, Gary Gulman, James Adomian, Janeane Garfalo, David Lee Nelson, Jamie Lee, Safy Hallan, Wyatt Cenac, just to name a few people off the top of my head. I really love Colbert. I watch every, single episode of his late night show and I’ve never ever done that before. In my whole life. #Callback. I just think he is perfectly weird and silly and goofy and so smart. Definitely my #1 celeb crush right now. I also dig anything Mindy Kailing writes. I devour her books in days. Love her show. The “Broad City” gals, of course. Ilana and I just crack each other up in text all the time. Jessica Williams, obvs. She’s my work wife. I do John Fugelsang’s Sirius XM show “Tell Me Everything” from time to time and he is so funny. Always has a joke locked and loaded. I feel like I’m learning a lot from how he hosts.
What was the last time you laughed so hard you cried?
Jess and I have our 2 Dope Queens podcast show, which is a live storytelling and stand up show we do for WNYC and tape at Union Hall. All the comics that have been on the show are amazing, but Michelle Collins, who is a co-host on “The View,” killed me. Her style of comedy is super free form and stream of consciousness and she is so hilarious. She had this one bit where she was talking about how fertile and fresh her eggs are that basically what comes out of her vajeen is a dozen cage free, brown-shelled organic eggs. I’m butchering the joke, obviously, but I could not stop laughing at that.
What are your goals for your comedy career?
My career goals are to be like Shonda Rhimes. I want to have an empire and be in control of my content, but I also want to EP and help usher other people’s ideas to the forefront. I won’t rest until I’m dominating the comedy scene in some fashion and helping to make the black female perspective normalized instead of something that is viewed as the “Other.” Black women are interesting, quirky, and multi-layered. We’re not just sassy assistants or stoic figures who do a single Demi Moore “Ghost” tear.
What is your favorite knock-knock (or otherwise goofy) joke?
Oh, man. Idk. I don’t remember knock-knock jokes or goofy jokes like that. It has to resonate with me in some way in order for me to remember it and knock knock jokes don’t.
To see 49 more of Brooklyn’s funniest people, click here.
Photo by Nicolas Maloof.