Why you should care
Maybe you haven’t heard of her yet, but this is the year.
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As a moderator, Phoebe Robinson cuts right to politics, asking the celebrities of the hour about Hillary, Bernie and the just-finished Republican National Convention. Should we all just move in with Justin Trudeau?
OK, OK, Robinson is a friend of the celebs in question — Broad City’s Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer — and sometimes a colleague in comedy too. She showed up on Broad City’s first episode as a grumpy Staples employee; you’ll remember her if you saw the episode. Robinson started her stand-up career eight years ago and has risen up through podcasting, acting and, coming this fall, a book, You Can’t Touch My Hair. She cohosts one of those podcasts, 2 Dope Queens, with Jessica Williams, formerly of The Daily Show. The newest podcast hit is “Sooo Many White Guys.” It has Robinson interviewing nooo white guys.
It might sound like a bold prediction, but trust us: This will be the year everyone hears about Phoebe Robinson, maybe in the context of Black Lives Matter, the election or a new deal for a show. OZY caught up with Robinson to talk politics, starting out and routines; the interview below has been edited and condensed for clarity.
OZY: Tell us about your podcast.
Phoebe Robinson: I cohost a storytelling podcast with Jessica Williams out in Brooklyn. We highlight women of color, women, LGBTQ+ people. We had Ilana Glazer in season two, and we’ll have a lot more surprises.
OZY: When you started out, did you think you were going to be doing comedy podcasts?
P.R.: No. I started stand-up eight years ago, when podcasts weren’t really a thing. You know, there’s Marc Maron’s podcast and Radiolab, but there weren’t really many performance-based podcasts. Jessica and I had so much fun live, we just felt like it would translate well to audio, and luckily it has. It’s been really nice. One of my favorite guests is Nore Davis.
OZY: How can comedy push back in this election year?
P.R.: We’re with WNYC, and they’re all about covering the news. With a show like ours, we talk about those issues, but in a fun way. Jess and I don’t have the answers and can’t explain why things are the way they are right now. But comedy is a good way to getting out a message, because if they’re laughing, they’re listening. You can drop in medicine with our candy.
OZY: For somebody starting out, what advice do you have?
P.R.: Don’t have a plan. I know it doesn’t sound correct. I started stand-up eight years ago on a whim. I was doing it because I loved it. It turned into something great. If you just have fun and … just don’t be a dick. There’s so many mean people in entertainment. Be nice to everyone. Work hard on your craft. Don’t worry too hard on who’s getting what. Remember you’re doing this for the love of the game; money will come later. Especially for female comedians, it’s good to have a nice network of women to bond with and connect with.
OZY: What routines set you up for success and keep you writing?
P.R.: There’s a lot of procrastination, I have to be honest. A lot of writing and creative stuff happens when I’m cleaning my apartment or making lunch. When I was writing my book, I was really strict. I think, outside of that, if you’re doing stand-up or a podcast, you have to be loose and open to all kinds of inspiration. You can’t schedule that in.