Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams might be saying goodbye to 2 Dope Queens after its upcoming second season, but they're doing anything but disappearing. The duo, who vaulted their popular podcast to a series of HBO specials, are bringing the project to an end after its second season for a good reason: they're just too damn busy with their various books, TV writing gigs, and movie roles. (In fact, Jessica's latest film, Corporate Animals, is making its debut at the Sundance Film Festival.)
We caught up with Jessica and Phoebe at an HBO brunch in their honor at Sundance, where we also witnessed a panel discussion between the dopest of queens and CNN political commentator Angela Rye. The panel covered everything from hair braiding and beatboxing to Michelle Obama — a former guest on the podcast — whom Jessica said "was very hydrated. Her skin was like mmmmmmm. Like when you bite into candied yams and you're like, 'These are amazing.'"
Speaking of women in politics, our interview happened on a notable day in the news, with Sen. Kamala Harris officially kicking off her presidential campaign. During her conversation with Jessica and Phoebe, Angela wondered about the sexism and racism we've already seen lobbed at Harris.
"It's been so interesting to me to see the number of sheer haters she had just out the gate, and a lot of it's not even based on real information," Angela said. "How afraid are you all that folks aren't doing their research and finding out what's real and what's not? It doesn't mean that people don't deserve to be critiqued — all of us do. But people need to be critiqued on the facts."
Phoebe answered: "I think as much as liberals really mean well and they really want to hold people accountable, I think a lot of times there's a quickness to be like, 'If you're not perfect, you're canceled.'" That relevant insight was just one of many we heard Sunday afternoon — read on for our conversation with Phoebe and Jessica about self-care, #MeToo, and playing the flute with Lizzo.
POPSUGAR: This next season of 2 Dope Queens is going to be your last, and you have a fantastic lineup of guests — Lupita Nyong'o, Daniel Radcliffe, Lizzo, Janet Mock, Keegan-Michael Key . . . Did you think, "OK, this is our last season. We really want to accomplish XYZ" or "We really want to have this person on"?
Jessica Williams: We knew we just wanted to have some really good shows. We tried to do everything we did on the first season but take it to the next level. We tried to make sure that we kept and honored what 2 Dope Queens always was — even in podcast form at WNYC — while also just having a different set, working with new comics, and getting all these guests that we love. We just really tried to make sure we were still having fun.
Phoebe Robinson: Yeah, it was really good and I think the audience was really excited about it. Season one, you're doing HBO — you just wanna make sure you don't break the thing — and now we're at a place where we're like, HBO trusts us, we had a great first four episodes, so let's just go for it with the themes, the wardrobe, the guests. I think the Lizzo interview was so fun. She has such great energy.
PS: There's some actual fluting that takes place? Is fluting a verb? I don't know.
PR: Yeah! We did some flauting? Some fluting? It was just cool to have it be this really fun party.
PS: You've both been really open about the fact that you're juggling tons of projects and you're both super busy, which is why you're saying goodbye. One of the things my coworkers and I wanted to know is if you have any great self-care tips with that in mind.
PR: My two things are, first, I like to work out. I know that sounds lame, but it's really good. If you're riding a bike, it's like, I'm not on the phone, I'm not scrolling Instagram, I'm not talking to a friend, so you can really focus on that. I've also been doing a lot of charity stuff, too, because I think self-care is great to recharge your own batteries, but it's also good to then put that energy toward someone else — a person who actually needs it a lot. So I've been working a lot with [bread and water?] You can volunteer at a soup kitchen or whatever. Giving back makes it feel like a community, because technology has separated us in a lot of ways, and so doing that sort of thing reminds you we're all in this together. We're all a family.
JW: Definitely what Phoebe said. I love therapy, so I go to therapy once a week. Even when I'm traveling, I still do phone sessions. I think it's hobbies, also, that bring you joy. I do pottery, painting. And staying active. I love boxing, so I box quite a bit. I have endometriosis, which hasn't been great, but it has really forced me to stop and reconsider what my self-care really is. So, I had to do things like watch what I've been eating, and eat less soy, and be sure not to beat myself up for the way my body is feeling that day. And also to take time with friends. That's really important: friendship time with people who really understand you and hold you tight.
PS: Phoebe, you did an Instagram video recently about walking out of a club set when you found out there was an accused abuser on the bill. And we've seen other guys in comedy try to stage a comeback, like, five minutes after they've been accused. Do you think comedy as a space has been particularly resistant to #MeToo?
PR: I think it's just more that, [at] comedy clubs, there's no HR. He was unannounced. The club booked him — the person who was running the show didn't book him. I saw he was there, and I was just like, this doesn't feel right to me. And I think if we want to not perform with sexual predators and abusers, we also have to take the stand to be like, well, I just won't perform that show.
People were like, "Aw, it sucks that you lost stage time!" I didn't lose stage time. This is bigger than comedy. Everyone, obviously, has to make their own decisions. But for me, I don't feel comfortable performing on stage with an alleged rapist. That's just not what I'm interested in. I think it's disrespectful to the audience members who didn't know that was happening, it's disrespectful to sexual assault victims, and it's disrespectful to the other comics on the lineup. That was just what I felt in the moment. I was like, I don't have to participate in this . . . I think in general because there isn't HR, it's tricky. People are like, I don't have to do the right thing. I can just sort of chase money, or this is my friend, or I have forgiven him, or whatever the case may be. I think that's what makes it hard for the comedy world to flat out be like, this is unacceptable. Because it's just the wild wild west in a lot of ways.
JW: Great movie, also. [Laughs]
2 Dope Queens is back on HBO on Feb. 8 with guest Lupita Nyong'o.
Stella Artois and Women in Film provided POPSUGAR with travel and accommodations at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival