Listening to 2 Dope Queens feels like catching up with friends about anything and everything. The topics range from talking about the beauty of ‘Dad bods’ and celebrity guests like Abbi Jacobson being ‘ghosted’ to educating Sarah Jessica Parker about black hair. Fans continue to keep up with Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams because they’re creating a different narrative for black women. Robinson spoke on how she was always cast to fit certain roles on TV that demeaned black women, and that she wanted to be more particular with what she was offered. Rather than attempting to fit into areas of the industry that create the “sassy” black woman, they’ve warped themselves into something progressive for audiences. Robinson and Williams don’t hold back in talking about issues that affect the black community as well as keeping the conversation light.
2 Dope Queens began as podcast between the two comedians. Phoebe Robinson was a Pratt undergraduate studying screenwriting while Jessica Williams had dropped out of college to be a correspondent on the Daily Show. The pair met when Phoebe Robinson was working on a piece for the Daily Show and Jessica Williams invited her to co-host a live show on her blog Blaria, which stands for black Daria. The chemistry between the two was intense, so they continued with the shows and eventually had to find an outlet to mass produce their brainchild. They created their podcast with WNYC, local NPR affiliate, and it first aired in March of 2016. They’ve sold out venues across the U.S., and their podcast has been picked up by HBO as a spin-off live version of the show and set to premiere in February of 2018. The podcast has gained traction since it first aired three years ago, and feels relatable to listeners. Robinson and Williams make sure to be inclusive of women, people of color and the LGBTQ community when choosing guests to come on the air. Phoebe Robinson spoke to Buzzfeedabout her goals, “…People of all different walks of life, highlighting their voices. I feel like the only way the energy is going to change is if we bring people along. And you have to help change it. You can’t wait for the gatekeepers to change it because they’re not, really.” In a predominantly white male radio world, the duo has been well-versed in how to appeal to audiences with their comedic pieces.
Since converting to their HBO spin-off series, critics such as The Ringerhave raved that “The best episodes of 2 Dope Queens feel more like the informal after-party to a comedy show than a show in themselves.” Tig Notaro, director of the special and female comedians, was chosen because of similar upbringings in the comedic world (i.e. stand-up) and her watchful eye to address what is excessive within the routine. She allowed for the pair to have the creative freedom to express this project in the way they wanted it rather than being changed altogether. The adaption from podcast to TV has been seamless since they kept the intimacy of the podcast alive within our screens.
Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams have been given the platform to voice their opinions on current events, social issues, and lack of media representation within certain communities. Their podcast and show have become so popular because they’re shedding light on common lived experiences that aren’t represented in media. In comparison to other podcasts, Robinson and Williams actually speak upon their experiences as black women and thrive to set themselves apart from their white, male counterparts. For now, the pair is focusing on other projects such as Robinson’s podcast Sooo Many White Guys and Williams’ Netflix film The Incredible Jessica James. Williams will later appear in a sequel to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Illustration by Khadija Horton