Comedians Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson in the studio to record their podcast 2 Dope Queens. Photo by Amy Pearl/Courtesy WNYC Studios.
“I’m so happy, my Spanx is gonna burst,” comedian Phoebe Robinson told the crowd at WNYC’s Greene Space in Manhattan earlier this month. “I’m very modern, black Selena,” quipped Jessica Williams, pointing to her shimmering bustier before doing a small upwards salute to the sky for the late Queen of Tejano music. Robinson and Williams had gathered a crowd to celebrate the launch of their comedy podcast 2 Dope Queens on April 4. Within minutes, the two had the house cry-laughing about everything from angst to Oprah to the upside of working with white producers at WNYC Studios (“They buy us salads, like it’s reeeeally nice”). It was the perfect preview of what would, in a matter of 24 hours, become the #1 comedy podcast on iTunes in the United States.
2 Dope Queens is hands-down the funniest podcast I have ever heard. Their show is an instantly lovable fusion of off-the-cuff intimate discussions (Williams turns the tables on a racist cab driver, Robinson offers to be Williams’ “guide in the butt stuff journey”) woven with live stand-up routines by a refreshingly diverse set of hilarious comedians. Guests so far have included Aparna Nancherla hyper-analyzing the strategies of a particularly odd cat-caller, Naomi Ekperigin singing “I let it hang out and hope my personality will suffice” about her new fiancee, and Nore Davis breaking down the overzealous usage of “no homo” by his friends.
Robinson took a break from finishing her busy life (she’s writing a book called You Can’t Touch My Hair) to answer some questions about the podcast.
NATALIE BAKER: When I think of public radio, I think of discussions about parasitic wasps dubbed over ambient new-age orchestral music. Maybe that’s an unfair stereotype, but I’m still curious: What was the journey that led to y’all partnering with WNYC Studios to produce your podcast? What has the experience been like so far? When you hand over tape of the two of you talking openly about anal sex, is your producer like “Yes! Thank you”?
PHOEBE ROBINSON: Hahaha. I’m going to say that yes, that is a skosh unfair. There is a NPR voice that a lot of radio has right now, but WNYC is legit perfect for 2DQ. They’re looking to spice things up a bit and I think they are pretty much down with whatever Jess and I talk about on the show. That was part of the deal when we started working together last summer. What they like about Jess and me is the pure intimacy of our friendship, the frank talk about sex, race, gender, and they knew that they shouldn’t get in the way of that. WNYC was smart enough to be like, “That’s the thing that’s going to make this show a hit.”
We started working with them because after a show last year, I said to Jess, “We should turn this into a podcast. It’ll be cool.” And she immediately said that WNYC is the place to be. They really get us, our voice, and let us do our thing. And our producer, Joanna, who is now a good friend of mine, does actually say, “Yes!” when we do stuff like talk about anal. Only if it’s funny, of course. But I think everyone at WNYC enjoys that talk because we aim to be sex-positive, which I think is important for female listeners. There’s too much “she’s a THOT” crap out there.
It seems like whenever people do something amazing and their identities differ from the dominant culture of the industry they’re a part of, the discussion instantly goes to their identity rather than the substance of what they’re doing. That can be really frustrating. How do you want the show to be seen and discussed?
I think I just want the show to be be seen like any other funny show and discussed similarly, which I think is what has been happening. For the first seven days, we were number one on the iTunes podcast charts because I think that is ultimately how audiences saw 2DQ. The huge amount of diversity is just icing on the cake because what matters to Jess and I number one is that the show is top to bottom funny, and then we focus on creating this menagerie that best represents what we think is funny.
We don’t consider our show a niche show or this other thing that is left of center. We’re straight down the middle comedy, so for me, we’re right alongside something like Maron’s “WTF.” Granted, the format is different, his being an interview show and ours a live performance show, but we’re both comedy and we’re both podcasts. And on the surface, there is no difference between our shows. Funny is funny, and we’re both that. And also, we would love to have you on, Marc! So holler at me, boo!
You mentioned anticipating backlash from “butt-hurt white dudes” in a recent Huffington Post article: is the show getting the backlash you anticipated? What about reception from the rest of the world?
Reception has mostly been good. No backlash yet, so thank goodness. But honestly, because we’re still taping episodes, we’re so focused on the show and what we’re going to talk about. Because we’re in the thick of it, we don’t have a lot of time to check reviews. I think that’s better. I just want to be as deeply entrenched in the creative process as I possible can. Since we premiered two weeks ago, we haven’t fallen below number two [on iTunes], and that’s thanks to the fans. So thanks, y’all. We really appreciate it.
Do y’all have already had some amazing guests on the show. Any dream comedians you’ve got your sights set on?
Aww, yay! I mean, one of them, Janeane Garofalo, we just had on recently, so we can cross her off the list. Obviously, people like Chris Rock and Wanda Sykes would be major. We also would love to have some people on who I’m sure would have an awesome and funny story to tell like Lin-Manuel Miranda or Sarah Jessica Parker. People who are staples of NY since our show has a very Brooklyn-y vibe would be great to have.
What can we look forward to for the rest of the season, both in terms of topics and comedians?
I think just more of the same: funny ass people with different points of views and Jess and I just being our usual goofball selves. We just want this show to be the best hour of your day. Or maybe one of the best. I mean, if you’re dating Michael B. Jordan, then this should be the second best hour of your day because the best hour should be him making love to you tenderly.
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