These days, if someone asks, “What podcast are you listening to,” one answer is likely “2 Dope Queens,” hosted by Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson. These Brooklyn comics are friends, hilarious, and host a hell of a show broadcast live, twice per month from Bell House. They cover a range of pressing issues like periods, hailing taxis, and dad bods, and they definitely do not shy away from conversations that highlight blatant, and often very funny (only because they are the ones talking about it) inequalities in our straight-white-male skewed world.
Today, Phoebe Robinson (also of Brooklyn’s 50 funniest people fame) will host a live taping with author and TV host Janet Mock, for Robinson’s forthcoming podcast (!!!) Sooo Many White Guys. It debuts July 12, and will serve as another antidote to the straight white male dominated media landscape because—psyche!—Sooo Many White Guys will not include a single white guy.
On Wednesday, before a live taping of 2 Dope Queens, Robinson, along with New York Public Radio President and CEO Laura Walker, and Vice President of On Demand Content, Paula Szuchman, sat down at Le Poisson Rouge to discuss Robinson’s new show as part of their women in podcasting festival, WERK IT! which includes a slew of panelists, discussions, workshops and live tapings for aspiring and established female podcasting voices (and which you can stream live).
Before Robinson explained the genesis of Sooo Many White Guys, Walker provided some current podcasting stats. WNYC alone boasts 23 million podcast downloads per month, which is a 63 percent increase over the last two years. Why, you might ask, is this statistic measured in a two-year time frame? Simple: the debut of, perhaps, the world’s most famous podcast, Serial. That event, along with iTunes’ little purple podcast app (which also came out around the same time as Serial) made podcasts something the world was very excited about, and could access easily.
While podcasts enjoy their moment in the limelight, Walker started WERK IT! to aid female voices in podcasting specifically because, in 2013, only 20 percent of all podcasts included a female host or co-host. Today, that number is somewhat better—37.2 percent—but Walker’s ultimate goal is to boost that percentage closer to 50/50. By promoting shows like 2 Dope Queens (and now Sooo Many White Guys) they are successfully pushing the female quotient ever so steadily upwards. And so with this background, they introduced Robinson, who, they said, had some very exciting news.
“I’m pregnant,” Robinson began. (A joke, and one everyone laughed at very heartily.) “Um, so, yeah, I had so much fun doing 2 Dope Queens, and (Walker and Szuchman) said, hey, do you wanna do something else with us? Just let us know.”
Robinson did have an idea. To further combat the snow white media landscape, she envisioned a show wherein she could talk to non white male heroes of her own that she believes the the rest of the world should be just as obsessed with as she is. So, Robinson will talk to people like Janet Mock, Samantha Bee, Nia Long, and Lizzo, behind the widely hailed album, Big GRRRL, Small World. “She collaborated with prince, she’s just really cool and awesome and smart, and I think she’s gonna be huge in a few years,” said Robinson.
Unlike 2 Dope Queens, Sooo Many White Guys will not simply feature comedy from a bunch of their friends like Aparna Nancherla and Jo Firestone (who performed at the live taping of 2 Dope Queens that night, and discussed how her dad did not give her real allowance, but rather Kinkos-printed money with his face on it) but also Ilana Glazer of Broad City (who, Robinson describes will play “a crazy producer who gives terrible ideas) and, finally, “two human beings in a room pretending like we’re not being recorded, just being real and interacting with each other,” Robinson summarized. Which is to say, not talking about major news-heavy accomplishments, just life in general, and honest issues, good and bad.
Actually, there is one very important addendum to all of this. Sooo Many White Guys will not be entirely white-guy free. The final episode (of which, Szuchman guesses roughly, there will be about eight in total) will include one token white male, who Robinson will interview (which male that will be is, as of yet, undisclosed). “They need to know what it feels like to be the token,” explains Robinson, to know what it feels like to be “the diversity hire,” she jokes.
But also, it is not a joke at all. Once, she was introduced at a show on the Lower East Side by a man—who had previously only introduced all white males before Robinson—by asking the crowd (warning, this is really, really shiity) “Do you guys like pussy? Well our next comic has one.” A lot of shows don’t realize how disrespectful they are to non white male comics,” says Robinson. Luckily, we have Robinson, and Williams and WNYC doing their damnedest to turn that around.
“Thank you for allowing me to do something like this,” Robinson said, unnecessarily graciously. “I can’t wait.”
Image by Mindy Tucker