Writing Books or Doing Standup? Or Podcasting? Or Producing? Or Acting? (with Phoebe Robinson)
When Sam asked multihyphenate entertainer Phoebe Robinson what professional endeavor she’d pick if she could only choose one, Phoebe realized her answer was a recent shift in opinion for her. The writer-producer-podcaster-actor-comedian has recently rediscovered the joy of standup comedy. Sam and Phoebe get into why Phoebe used to dread every standup set, the freedom she gained when she realized it’s impossible to make everyone laugh, and how she’s learning to trust her gut more.
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Phoebe Robinson, Samantha Bee
Samantha Bee 00:00
Malcolm Gladwell says that if you practice something for 10,000 hours, you will master it, you will be a true expert people will bow down before we do. I say you can do something for 10,001 hours, and it can still terrify you, but you should do it anyway. I can think of few things more intimidating than stand up comedy, the act of announcing to the world hey, hey, everybody, I think I’m funny, and then waiting to see if they agree. The silence of a joke not Lanting is one of the more painful experiences one can have. You know, when FDR said we have nothing to fear, but fear itself. He clearly had never painstakingly worshipped a tight 10. Also, why do I keep quoting men today, that’s my choice that I’m making. But I fully believe that it is important we do things that scare us that we don’t retreat into our turtlenecks that we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we say, not today weird feeling in my stomach and my lower parts, not because it builds character. But because we are capable of more than we think we are. And it is important to remind ourselves of that at every opportunity. I know in my own life going on stages are terrifying, which is why whenever I perform I muster up as much courage as I can find by chucking a Coca Cola glass bottle preferred and Sean Spicer in a pack of chewing gum. If that term has left your brain thesaurus to Sean Spicer, a pack of chewing gum is to swallow it. It’s not cool that I do that. And it is not cool that he does it. But I still do it because it’s digestible. I don’t buy it. I think that’s a myth. There is an expectation that performers are going to be good every time because they’re performers. It’s what they do. That is a lot of pressure. Sometimes, really no amount of picturing an audience in their underwear can help you that people rarely regret doing something hard once they’ve done it. We again are capable of so much more than we think we are.
Samantha Bee 02:38
This is Choice Words. I’m Samantha Bee. My guest today is comedian podcaster. actress, author and self described workaholic Phoebe Robinson. Phoebe is currently touring with her live stand up show the messy AF tour and I talked to her about how she’s falling back in love with stand up comedy even though sometimes she dreads going on stage. And you can go to Smith b.com for tickets to my live show. Your favorite woman the joy of sex ed and watch me perform live even though I am also scared. In the meantime, take a listen and make good choices. I’m so happy to be talking to you today.
Phoebe Robinson 03:25
Oh my gosh. Likewise, this is a dream.
Phoebe Robinson 03:29
I feel like what you have if this is a dream we have very humble dreams. I appreciate you. I feel like we literally no feel like sui know so many people in common. Yes. So many people and yet, you and I haven’t really like had a long conversation. The last time I saw you was when you moderated Jenna Freeman’s book talk at the strip, which was a phenomenal conversation. It was so good.
Samantha Bee 04:07
Do you get tapped to moderate things.
Phoebe Robinson 04:10
Yeah, I’m such a book nerd. Like I really just love reading books. I love to smell them. Like I love the weight of a book. And so I love just chatting with people. And it’s just so it’s so fun. Because everyone’s writing processes different and like, you know, I think people always it’s interesting like to interview people because especially when it comes to their books, because everyone gets like nervous and their own way. You know, be like the coolest person ever. And then, you know, like I remember when I was I’m not trying to this is gonna sound like a name dropping. So I just want to say I’m not trying to remember when I hosted an event with Bano. I mean that sounds disgusting. That sounds there.
Samantha Bee 05:01
[…] and I were talking. Oh, no, it’s good. Okay, so you were moderating an event with Bondo. And he was like.
Phoebe Robinson 05:07
And so we were talking and his book was about to come out. And I was like, Oh, my God, it’s gonna do great to me, like, sell so many copies, blah, blah, blah. And he was like, I don’t know, we’ll see. And he there was just an air. He was like, I was like, but your bond on us? Like, I just don’t know. And it’s like, everyone feels that kind of angst when it comes to a book. And I don’t know if it’s because it’s so personal, because you write it, but there’s just that energy.
Samantha Bee 05:31
I think it’s it’s very personal. I think it’s like a very hard thing to sell something. But you’ve I mean, haven’t you felt that because you’ve got you have multiple books? And haven’t you felt that personally, that you’re like, I loved the process of this? But is this how people know me? Like, it feels risky? It feels so vulnerable, don’t you think?
Phoebe Robinson 05:52
Yeah. And it’s also and you know, this, like, whenever you work on something for a while? Yeah. Towards the end, you start to be like a kind of hate this like, or like, you’re like, I don’t know if this is actually good anymore, because I’ve just been like doing it draft after draft after draft. So I think every time I’ve had a book come out, I’ve been like, Well, I think I did the best I could do. I don’t know how people are going to receive it. But I write I think it’s I remember at some point, I thought it was good. So maybe it’s still good.
Samantha Bee 06:23
A year ago, I really liked that one section. He wasn’t so I don’t really, did you ever go on book tour? And you were like, I don’t really remember what happens in the book. I haven’t read it for a while. And I know it’s my life. But I also have forgotten chunks of fat. Okay, all right. I want to talk about you. So Okay. Okay. So you know that this podcast is all about choice, we talk about the choices that we make. So I want to actually like I do want to talk about that with you. I want to talk about like, first of all, what what kind of how do you make decisions? What kind of what is your relationship? To choice? Are you good at making decision? Are you have you become great at it? How are you at decision making?
Phoebe Robinson 07:09
It’s it’s been a journey for me. So Libras are notoriously indecisive.
Samantha Bee 07:20
Just weighing your options, constantly weighing all your options.
Phoebe Robinson 07:24
Everything like even like ordering takeout will sometimes take me an hour. And like, and by the time I pick what I want the places close. It’s like, just catch, because I’m like, I don’t want to like make the wrong decision and be like, Oh, well, I didn’t like that meal. It’s like, yeah, even if you don’t like the meal, you’ll survive, you’ll have another meal in four hours. Right? It’s not the right deal. But I think so I started going to therapy in 2020. Like so many people, because I was just such a workaholic. And I did not have a life. Like I didn’t do anything for fun. I had no hobbies. It was just like work, hang out with my ex boyfriend go to you to concerts. And that was my whole life. So I started doing work with my therapist. And so I think, you know, my decision making can be in a couple of different buckets. I think the first bucket is I’m the baby of the family. I’m a comedian. So that means I am a people pleaser. Okay. And so I think like there have been times in therapy where my therapist is like, you’re trying to control how people view you based on a decision that you’re making. So there’ll be like, Oh, you’re like, so cool. And you’re like, so you’re so awesome. Or Phoebe’s someone who always shows up for everybody else, just that sort of like trying to control the narrative a little bit. So it’s a little bit of that there’s also a little bit of like, I don’t want to let anyone down. That’s like my biggest thing. I’m always like, if I don’t do this, I’m letting people down. And it’s just so like, heavy and like, a lot. And I just take on the burden of like, I have to like carry the weight of everything. And it’s like you don’t. And then I think I just turned 39. So I think now I’m starting to trust my gut a little bit more, instead of in the past where I would make a decision and then sort of talk myself out of it. Because I’ve like, Oh, if I make this decision, this is going to be a bummer for someone so maybe let me just do the thing. That’s going to be a bummer for me because I can handle it being a bummer, but I don’t want it to be a bummer for someone else. And it’s like well, it’s it sucks for you still. Right so don’t make that choice.
Samantha Bee 09:45
That is so time consuming. It’s a very time consuming way to live and govern your life.
Phoebe Robinson 09:52
Yeah, it’s an it’s not great. But I definitely am working on it because I think I just am so I think part of it society always makes women feel like we have to just second guess, you know, right like, measure twice, cut once on every single thing. Yeah. Which is so infuriating, because like, you’ll know what you want, but you’re like, but do I want that? And it’s like, yeah, you just said you wanted it.
Samantha Bee 10:23
Right? Yeah. Like God, trusting your God is so hard to do. It’s so hard, like drawing lines for yourself. Drawing a red line for yourself that you will not cross is very difficult. Yes. It’s hard to live life as a people pleaser. It is how do you think that birth order plays into that? Because you say that you’re the baby of the family? And I’m curious. I’m curious how you like, yeah. Because you’re always just trying to like, fill the cracks of everybody else. You’re like, let me be the peacemaker. Let me be the.
Phoebe Robinson 10:58
Yeah, I mean, I think so. My brother’s four years older, and he is he like, whatever people meet us. They’re like, You guys are so different. We’re so different. Like, he’s like, he’s funny, but he’s a much more serious person. Right. You know, he’s very much like sweater vests and khakis on the weekends. Like he’s and I’m very, like, just silly, Goofy, you know, diarrhea of the mouth, always trying to make people laugh. And so I think he’s sort of has like, the more serious sort of mantle. And I’m sort of like, the more like, I’m fun and funny. And I used to always say, like, Oh, my brother’s a smart one. And I’m just kind of like, you know, personality or whatever, which I think was also like, No, I’m smart to have my own way. So I think it played out in like, I think everyone, when you’re young, you sort of no, like, Oh, this is a thing that gets positive reinforcement. And so for me, I knew like being funny, like, I was never a class clown. But I was always like, someone who like could crack a joke and I knew that always got a positive response. And so I like leaned into that. And I think for my, my brother was like, Mr. 4.0 GPA, like 1020 different groups and like all the teachers like he knew that like, that was the thing for him. Right?
Samantha Bee 12:15
Did you have to learn? Did you have to teach yourself how to say no to things? What is that like? How do you it’s so that’s so hard because even when I look when I look down your resume, when I scroll down, it is like a it is like Santos list. It is like it like roof unfurls on the ground and spills over into your Okay, stand up comedy podcaster. Author, your actor, your producer, your writer, you have your own production company. And so, but you have your own imprint, your own publishing, imprint, so therapy.
Phoebe Robinson 13:02
Yes. So, when I started doing stand up comedy, July 2008, I took a class at Caroline’s, rip Caroline’s I love that club so much. And I didn’t really started making a living at stand up until 2017. Okay, so I was like freelance blogging had day jobs, like just doing any like, I would do, you know, stand up shows at colleges and like bomb at them terribly. Like what if anything, was just like pay the bills? Right. So one of the things that my, my therapist and I worked on, is she was like, you still have poor girl brain shoes. So it’s like, even though I’m in like a different place now where I’m like, I’m established and I’m, you know, I’m torn. I’m torn right now. Do we stand up and everything is fine. In the back of my head. I’m like, You’re not going to have money next month. So I was just saying yes to every single thing. And she was like, you don’t have to live that way anymore. You can say no. And if you say no, does it mean that the work is gonna stop it means that something else is gonna come in, that’ll be the right thing for you. But it took me a really long time to not trust that to be like, I can say no. And like, the work will still be there.
Samantha Bee 14:24
It’s hard. I think it’s actually I think it’s like a practice, right? It’s not something that you just go now I say now I’m a professional. Now I have enough like, you never know when it’s because we think many of us have scarcity brain. Yeah. Yeah. Like you’re always trying to like stockpile for the next period for the next dry spell.
Phoebe Robinson 14:48
Yeah, like we just came out. I like the stripes. It’s Bananas, bananas. So I think for me, my category of things that I will say yes to are it’s either or good pay. People are really want to work with a sort of philanthropic endeavor, or like scares me slash challenges me. So I have to do it. That’s have to do it.
Samantha Bee 15:15
That’s a great set of criteria. Like it has to like check some pretty rigorous boxes to make it worth it.
Phoebe Robinson 15:23
Yeah, to check all of them, but it has to at least check one of them. Otherwise, I can’t do it.
Samantha Bee 15:29
can’t do it. You mean, you don’t want to do things just for the exposure? It’s really good exposure.
Phoebe Robinson 15:39
I got asked to this was like, this was like 2019, I got asked to host this event. And I was like this swanky event. And so they reached out to my publicist, and I was like, oh, yeah, this sounds cool. But like, can I get paid because it was like, I gotta, like, write a monologue and do all this stuff above a BA. And they were like, Oh, we typically like don’t pay people and they, they were listening. Other people had done it. And they were just like, you know, people generally just do this for the experience. And I was like, Do you know how hard it is to like, write a 10 minute monologue, specifically for your fucking thing? Yeah, I’m not gonna do that for free. So I said, No, but people they were like, shocked that I said, no.
Samantha Bee 16:18
There’s a lot of that. I just start so Maria Bamford recently. She talks. I love her so much. And she talks a lot about that about like, the necessity of paying people for their work, a no brainer.
Phoebe Robinson 16:33
I feel like sometimes when it comes to creatives, people go well, you love it. And you’re like, yeah, totally, I love doing it. But I have a mortgage. So I can’t pay a mortgage with love, because they will kick me out.
Samantha Bee 16:53
We’ll be right back with Phoebe Robinson after this. This is gonna sound like a weird question. But when is the first time that you’ve really felt like you were someone’s boss in a way, like, when was the first time where you really reckoned with the fact that you were in charge? Because I think that is a huge, that’s a real mindfuck.
Phoebe Robinson 17:36
Yeah, being a boss. Being a boss is like, not always the most fun. And I think, you know, the way it’s presented in movies and TVs is either like, TV shows us like Devil Wears Prada, where it’s like funny because this person, like, you know, Meryl Streep is so extreme. Or it’s just like, Oh, I’m like a Kardashian. I’m just chilling on a yacht. You know what I mean? I’m like, It’s neither of those experiences. So I would say, you know, I would say probably the first time I had to fire someone, right? You know, and it sucks. Yeah, it’s horrible. And like, you don’t want to do it. But I had to fire my former manager. And she was very lovely. But it felt like she I not all managers, just like not all men, not all managers. But every once in awhile, gonna be a manager who’s just sort of like, I don’t really have to work that hard. I’ll just sort of like be present and let you do all the work and just collect a check. You know what I mean? Right. And so it was just very much getting to a point where I’m just like, I want to build this thing together. And it was just very much like, she was just sort of just chill in. And like, you know, not being on top of things. And I was just like, why am I just giving you 10% All the time. You’re like not, and it was like, horrible. Like, we met up, I can still remember we met up for like, brunch. And we were, I just like, had to do it. Like she got me like a holiday gift. And I was like, oh my god.
Samantha Bee 19:23
And the kitchen is really backed up. And you’re just did it and they’re like, I’m so sorry, there’s the kitchen delay. Your entrees are gonna be like, just 20 more minutes. And so you can just sit together in silence.
Phoebe Robinson 19:37
I felt so bad, but I was just like, I feel like I’ve given this person like 2020 chances. And like, they just kept like not delivering so I had to just be like, this isn’t working out and like I think you’re great and I’m great. But I think together we’re not great anymore. And I was I didn’t feel good because like you know she looked so And it was like we had been together for like, four or five years. And so it was just like, it was awful. But it’s one of those things like, part of being a boss. It’s like you have to do the shitty parts too.
Samantha Bee 20:13
The shitty parts are so shitty. Yeah. Like you feel like you’ve walked through fire to come out different on the other side. A little bit better and a little bit worse. A little bit changed.
Phoebe Robinson 20:26
You go like, Oh, I am definitely as a people pleaser. I’m definitely not going to be able to people, please all the time.
Samantha Bee 20:37
Did you always when you were a kid? Did you want to what was your ultimate goal? When you were a kid, when you were like being the entertainer in the family when you were being like, adding that. When you’re like, I’m the one who makes it fun. Here I am. Were you like, I can do this as a career? Or were you more like, oh, we’ll see how it pans out? Or were you like focused?
Phoebe Robinson 21:03
I think that I secretly always wanted to be a performer. But I was too scared to admit it to myself. And from Cleveland, Ohio was like, you know, no one in my family, obviously was in an entertainment. I’m like, I don’t know, like, what the path is here. So I was like, I think I’ll be a screenwriter. And I was like, I want to write like serious movies. I was like, I’m gonna write like the next American Beauty like that was like, truly, I thought I was going to write that kind of stuff. And then I moved to New York, I went to Pratt Institute. And I just like met a bunch of funny people. We like go to improv shows together like UCB and like, we started like, our own informal team. And I was like, Oh, this is really cool. But I still it still didn’t register to me that I should be doing comedy. So I graduated. And I started working in film, I was like, Oh, I was a receptionist at New Line Cinema. And then I became like, an executive assistant at this indie Picturehouse, the indie company, and it still didn’t dawn on me, I was like, Okay, I’m just gonna, like, you know, just do this. And I didn’t really like being in office all day. And so I was sort of like, I don’t really know what I’m going to do here. But I guess I’ll just like stay in this industry and figure it out. And then my friend want to take a class at Caroline’s, but she didn’t want to do it by herself. And I was like, stand up who gives a shit like I should.
Samantha Bee 22:33
Why would anyone do this? Okay, fine. I will accompany you.
Phoebe Robinson 22:37
That’s exactly how I felt. And I was like, right, this sounds really dumb. And then I ended up falling in love with it. And I was like, This is what I’m supposed to do with my wife. And then the indie company shut down to three months after I started taking this piano class. And I was like, That’s aside from the university keep doing that. So then I just had like, all these whatever day jobs and then I would like take the bus to Boston and do unpaid shows and sleep on couches, and all all the unglamorous you know, comedy stuff we do.
Samantha Bee 23:12
And you’re on a tour. So you’re on the tour right now. You’re going all over the place. Yes. What made you is that was that already in your mind to do a tour this year? Or were you like, I don’t know with? It’s like strike? Like, was it prompted by the strike? Or was it just an organic like, you knew that you would be touring in the fall? Because you’re working towards your hour or whatever it is?
Phoebe Robinson 23:36
Yeah, so I had a show on free form called everything’s trash, like I’m cancelled, which was very sad. He is truly like a brother to me. And I always told myself I was like, if we don’t get a second season, I’ll just go back and do stand up and like just go back to basics and so I started working on my our this year in January and I just will say this is the most fun I’ve ever had, do we stand up?
Samantha Bee 24:10
Really? Why so why?
Phoebe Robinson 24:13
So before you so always dread it every single show. I would have a pit in my stomach every single show and be like ah I got to go do this and I think a huge part of it is the scene that I came up in 15 years ago was you know, so a lot of toxic male energy you know, that made it very clear and want women here they don’t want people color here and so I really internalized a lot of that and would be like you know nervous if like you know certain guys were on the lineup with me because of like, oh, I don’t want to have a bad side or like they ice you out if you have a good side and just like all these things, it was just like so like I used to comics used to give me a hard time about like not hanging out enough. And I was like, I need to have a day job in order to stay in New York. So I would have my day job, like 10 to six. And I would go like, do open mics and shows, get back home around like midnight, go to bed, wake up and do it all over again. So it wasn’t that I was like, I’m too cool for you. I was like, I gotta hustle super hard to stay in New York, you know, right. And so, you know, you just hear like, guys like talking shit about you. And just like, after a while just sort of wears on, you’re like, this kind of sucks. And I can faintly remember like discovering stand up and really enjoying it. But I don’t feel that way anymore. And I think with this show getting canceled, and just also doing it for so long. I’m sort of like, I truly do not give a fuck about anyone. I just, this is the coolest job. And I’m not gonna let anyone rob my joy of that. It’s the coolest job.
Samantha Bee 26:02
It is such a cool job. And it is. Oh my god. The guy not giving a fuck is the greatest
Phoebe Robinson 26:10
Yeah. It’s so wonderful.
Samantha Bee 26:13
Wonderful. And it takes it’s so painful getting there. Yeah, I love people who just like were born there. It’s nice for them. But it is hard to get to that place where you’re like, I don’t know, I’m just doing it because I have something to say. So I guess walk off like, it doesn’t matter.
Phoebe Robinson 26:31
it’s like, you know, you have good shows you have like not so great shows. It all evens out in the end. Like, who cares? Like I don’t? You know, you do the thing like this one comic. I know. He’s telling you about this club. He’s past that. And he was like, you know, if anyone has a bad set that everyone at the club, I talks about it for weeks, and I’m like, What is this high school? Yeah, you have a bad set, you move on? Like, why are you going to, like make this person feel like shit for weeks about it. And that sort of toxicity. Like, really, I was just like, This is not what stand up comedy is about. It’s about having fun and making people laugh and like touring with your friends and not this sort of these mind games. And so it took me a long time to like, get all of that out of me to be like, no, this is a blessing.
Samantha Bee 27:19
When you felt that way for so many years, when you had that like pit in your stomach and like nerves. How did you I guess, how did you maintain a desire to continue in the art form? Like was the stand up? Like, was the stage time special enough to like, override all those terrible feelings? Or like, what was the calculation, I guess?
Phoebe Robinson 27:44
It was tough. You know, I think it really helps having like two Dope Queens and just being able to do that with Jessica. And that was so fun and doing like the production company stuff. And if I’m being honest about this, and stuff, I think I don’t want to ever, like nag myself. But I do think I did not push myself as hard as a stand up when it came to the writing. And like getting up into getting the stage as much stage time as I could. Because there was a part of me that wanted to avoid it. The like, icky feelings. And so I think for me, I was like in it enough to be in it. But I wasn’t like the way that I’m in it now. It’s like, it’s totally different. I’m so committed. I’m so present for every show. Like I it’s just different. And I think before I was like, Oh, I just this sets 10 minutes. Okay, I just got to get through these 10 minutes. And I never feel that way during the hour. I’m not like, Oh, I gotta get through this hour. I’m like, I am so excited to do this hour.
Samantha Bee 28:52
That is the greatest feeling. Yeah, is the greatest feeling. I think like the and the travel is hard and like it’s probably like all the other stuff that’s like kind of difficult. You’re like, all over the place like get out of my comfort zone. But when you stand in the light, and all those people are there, your room to say that’s very special.
Phoebe Robinson 29:12
It’s so nice. And you like you think back to when you start out doing comedy and like, I used to do shows at the village lantern and Manhattan and you would just do it for people who like don’t even speak English and you’re like barking them in. Right? And like, you know, my parents when I started doing stand up they were always very supportive but they thought that I was like do we sold out shows everywhere and I was like, no, no one knows.
Samantha Bee 29:41
When you come to a show there gonna be people talking about other stuff. You’re gonna hear them. Don’t get mad.
Phoebe Robinson 29:51
It’s gonna be disappointing.
Samantha Bee 29:57
Oh my god. Hold that thought more with Phoebe Robinson after one more break. Okay, well, we’re so happy to hear that you’re like enjoying it. Because really like, when you’re at the level that you’re at, which is like you’ve done, you’ve done and continue to do like, just an incredible amount of amazing stuff. Like, it’s the only thing Oh, I feel like the only thing left is to do really enjoy it. You can, like you can only be doing things that give you like that. Check those boxes.
Phoebe Robinson 30:51
Yeah, absolutely. Because it’s sort of like, you know this from doing your show and doing all the things that you’ve done, like you put so much time and effort into it. That, you know, I think the beginning that chase of like, I go, okay, achieve this, I want to get my own show, I want to write my book, I want to do this thing I want, you start achieving those things. And that’s not going to sustain you for the rest of your career. Because once you do those first, it’s sort of like, alright, well, now I gotta do another hour. So it’s sort of like, well, then why are you doing it then? Is it because you love it? Do you want to challenge yourself, and like to spend this much time and in the industry that we’re in? It’s like, you got to enjoy it because you really cannot control the outcome on anything. Anything at all.
Samantha Bee 31:42
I think that’s like, also the gift probably of like doing your hour and going on tour is that you really don’t have to you’re utterly in control of it. Like, almost every other part of your career requires someone else to say yes to you. Yeah. Like, you have to pitch yourself. It’s like, even if you’re your own boss, which you are, you’re still kind of hustling you also do in meetings. Still do a little dog and pony show.
Phoebe Robinson 32:15
Oh, god, it’s just like, Please buy my wares. You know, like, when do we want to sell you stuff? Oh, it never stops.
Samantha Bee 32:22
It’s not ever. I think that people really don’t understand that you can be Jennifer Garner, and you’re still hustling and selling yourself. And people are still saying no to you. Or like, I don’t know why I chose Jennifer Garner’s name out of a hat. I don’t I don’t know this woman. I don’t know her. I really don’t even know that she’s doing that. I just said her name came out. It fell out. I don’t have any.
Phoebe Robinson 32:53
She’s an every woman, you know what I mean?
Samantha Bee 32:55
She’s not even a person I automatically think of for anything except this scenario for for no good reason at all. Such as my best friend, Jennifer Garner. Know that we love each other anyways, whatever she everyone is like there’s at at the when you’re making TV projects. Writing movie scripts. You’re still always selling you’re selling constantly. And yes, getting rejected. Constantly. Like slow worse is terrible. I was feel good when I hear that. Like everyone turned down Tom Hanks this new movie idea. I’m like even Tom Hanks. Okay, Tom Hanks there, there we go.
Phoebe Robinson 33:39
Yeah. T Hanks.
Samantha Bee 33:44
But like your tour, you make all the decisions.
Phoebe Robinson 33:47
Yeah, it’s so great. And like I’m my opener. Kalise Hawkins she’s really funny. She was a writer on everything’s trash and like, She’s so great. Which one of these are live on? Like, it’s two black ladies doing a tour together which is always like nice, because you know, a lot of times male comics wall have women open for them, you know, anyway, so it’s usually then where you can be an eye opener as if another woman brings you along. And it’s just so like, we do our we do our show. And then we’ll like Go grab dinner have like a glass of white wine, hang out for an hour. And then we’re like, Let’s go to sleep. Like it is like the most like it’s so cute. It’s so great.
Samantha Bee 34:35
Fantastic. I just I approve this message. We can we don’t need to hear comedy at midnight. No, and we don’t need it anymore. If you’re only doing jokes about what a bit your ex wife is, or whatever, then you could do those jokes and At night, and everybody is totally here for it. But if you were a civilized comedian who’s very fucking funny, people are awake.
Phoebe Robinson 35:11
Yeah, you’re ready. You can laugh at six. Like, it’s so great. Like it’s hot. So should be earlier. Like, stop the madness.
Samantha Bee 35:20
Stop the madness. And please do it on time. Mostly not like, it doesn’t have to be like, we don’t have to be so we don’t have to be Catholic school usual. But a variation of mostly on time is feels great.
Phoebe Robinson 35:38
I have a friend and I we went and saw Peter Gabriel, MSG, and my friend was coming from a dinner so I like got there. And I was like, it was like 805 And I was like, he has started he started eight o clock on a die. And I was like this the show’s already started. Peter doesn’t, he is 73 years old. He has time for this bullshit. I’m starting to eight we’re done at 10.
Samantha Bee 36:06
My people expect me. Everybody needs to get home. I know I’m gonna lose people in the last song because everybody’s trying to get to their parking or whatever. Yeah, everybody is bundling up. It’s fine. That’s fucking great. Thanks, brilliant. Let me ask you this question. Because I’m curious about this because you do so many different things. What if if everything fell away? And you could only pick one thing of all the things you do? What is your favorite? Is it this jewel box of a skill of standup? Or is it writing? Is it script writing? Is it book? Like, what if everything fell away? What is the most fulfilling, I guess out of all these things, and you don’t have to pick and that’s the joy of this question is purely theoretical.
Phoebe Robinson 37:05
I can pick, gosh, in my I think for the longest time I would say book writing, but I think because I’m rediscovering the joy of stand up. I think it might be stand up.
Samantha Bee 37:24
Yeah, are you going to tour in the spring too like you’re gonna continue it?
Phoebe Robinson 37:29
I would love to. So my, my goal is to turn this into an hour special. Okay, I definitely want to do more festivals like the Melbourne Comedy Festival next year. So like, I definitely want to take it out and, and work on a new hour like I’m so like, jazz about like starting the process over again. It’s so fun. I have a monthly show in Brooklyn. And it’s just a workout show like everyone just brings in new material and I like I literally will just have a notepad with just like words on it. And then just see if I can sort of like talk my way into like what the bit would be it’s like the most fun messy sort of experience I think that also helped me take the pressure off of stand up it just being like, you’re just finding your way you’re just finding the punch lines is makes us so less high stakes.
Samantha Bee 38:18
I love hearing you talk about how you’ve created a culture around yourself. That just feels really healthy and actually creative. Yeah, just like actually creative.
Phoebe Robinson 38:31
Yes because I think you know for so long it was like you want to get your your late night set on Letterman that like never happened for me because he like retired before like got good but like it was like you want do your five minutes set you want your half hour and then you want your like it everything was just like so rigid and like you got to you got to kill you got every set, you got to fucking destroy a bottle. And I’m like, I’m like, but you also have to learn stuff, too. You don’t always learn a lot. When you kill me just sort of like, well, that was great. My ego was stroked for like 30 minutes or so. So you need to have those shows where it’s like, you have the audience and you lose them a little bit and you get them back and discover some like the kind of like weird funky shows are the sets that aren’t perfect, I think are the most valuable shows and like, there was such an era of perfectionism. Right? That I think is counterintuitive to creativity.
Samantha Bee 39:28
Right. It’s very like, hard to learn those lessons like it’s so unenjoyable to learn lessons. It is like not fun at all to be humbled. And like walk away and go. Oh, fine. Okay. Thank you for that life lesson.
Phoebe Robinson 39:52
Yeah. I did this. I did doubling Comedy Festival. And I was just it was just a show There was like a lot of a lot of bros a lot of guys, right? Didn’t really laugh at any of the women, of course, are the levers, but they latch all the guys. And I remember after my set and it was like, like we all do like 20 minute sets and like it was, it was like fine. You know, it wasn’t like I didn’t bomb but I certainly wasn’t like, yeah, I killed that. And so I was just like, oh, that like kind of sucks. Because it’s just like a curtain that separates the greenroom from that. And so it’s my son, and it was like an intermission. And then I heard the guy go to his friend, he goes, Well, I hope the next comment is better than that one.
Phoebe Robinson 40:51
But like, five years ago, that would have killed me, that would have been in my head for like, a month. And I just thought I was just like, Oh, I’m not for him. And he’s not for me. That’s fine.
Samantha Bee 41:05
Oh, my God, this is I love hearing this. I can’t tell you. I feel like it’s like, it’s just incredible. Like to be able to just roll through it to just go all right. We’re not each other’s I don’t like his stuff, either. Or, I don’t know. I don’t care. Shit. It’s one person’s opinion. It’s hard to. It is like, you know, you’re on social media. It’s like, one person’s negativity towards you. Has a kick, give it too much power over you. But it’s very hard to not let it penetrate.
Phoebe Robinson 41:41
Exactly. And like, it didn’t feel great to hear that, you know, now I almost said something where I was like, you know, I can hear you. But I was like, Don’t give it oxygen. He’s entitled to not think I’m funny. You don’t mean, right. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not funny. That’s just his opinion. And it’s okay, he can have it, we can move on. And it’s fine. And I think like, this notion, I think, certainly in stand up when I was coming up, it was like, if you’re really funny, you can kill in any room, you can make any person laugh, and it’s like, but ever, like comedy works because I say a thing and the person hearing it is bringing their life experiences to what I’m saying. And that creates the laugh. Every one is different. There’s no way that someone is funny to every single person. Right? So don’t make that the goal. It’s so like, whenever like, you know, I would like not have a good show. I would go oh, I guess this means I’m bad at stand up because I didn’t make every single person laugh and then now making a place where I’m like, do you want to make your art based on like appealing to every single person? You’re gonna lose yourself by doing that.
Samantha Bee 42:52
You can’t crowdsource like, what is the best thing for you. You have to have a passion for the material otherwise, the fuck are you doing it for like, exactly. You’re gonna, you’ve already created TV shows. It’s not like you’re not like auditioning for life. You’re doing all those things because you have and people love your voice because you have a passion for it. It’s like finding your fans connecting with them is an incredible experience. Yeah, definitely had an experience this year, like when my show got canceled. Where I was like really working hard to be like, sell myself or something. I was like, What do I do? Like, what what is it and then I went through this like whole period where it was like trying to resell something or like trying to like dance around and then keep fully came to the conclusion after one session with all these guys where I was like no man can ever give me doubts again. Like, and if that means that I never work again. I except I just can’t hear it. Just can’t. I can’t hear the voices. Like, like how men, some men hear women’s voices. They’re just here like a screeching. I hear like a like a it’s almost like a Charlie Brown voice. I’ve just like a droning like murmur. Mirror Mirror. And I’m like, I can’t shout notes from the gentleman.
Phoebe Robinson 44:40
Like, that feels good. Yes, it feels good to just go like, I know, you get to a point where like, I know what I’m doing. I don’t know how many people are going to like the thing that I’m doing. But I know objectively what’s good for me and what works. So the You get to a notes process and it’s like, oh, you’re not adding anything. You just want to. You just want to talk, but you don’t have anything that’s actually going to be useful or beneficial.
Samantha Bee 45:11
You’re just saying stuff.
Phoebe Robinson 45:13
Guys love to just say stuff.
Samantha Bee 45:15
I just love to say stuff. They’re like, yeah, let me say my thing. And then you write it down. I’m not even going to check if you ignored me or not. I just know that I said it. Saw you hear me? Say stuff. Like, Oh, fuck. I swear a lot. I swear a lot in this interview, but I’m I love it thoroughly. I think you are awesome. Thank you so much. .
Samantha Bee 45:58
That was Phoebe Robinson and I had no choice but to look up one thing. Look, stars are just like us. We’re all worried about putting ourselves out there and coming up short. Apparently, even […] interviewed […] for his surrender book to her and he said that he was worried that no one would read it well. Friends, I looked it up and you don’t have to worry because […] was on the New York Times bestseller list for 14 weeks. Good for you Bano, and good news. There’s more choice words with Lemonada Premium. Subscribers get exclusive access to bonus content, like a special outtake from this very interview and it is so funny and I love it. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts.
Thank you for listening to Choice Words which was created by and is hosted by me. We’re a production of Lemonada Media, Kathyrn Barnes, […] and Kryssy Pease produce our show. Our mix is by James Barber. Steve Nelson is the vice president of weekly content. Jessica Cordova Kramer, Stephanie Wittles Wachs and I are executive producers. Our theme was composed by […] with help from Johnny Vince Evans . Special thanks to Kristen Everman, Claire Jones, Ivan Kuraev and Rachel Neil. You can find me at @Iamsambee on Twitter and at @realsambee on Instagram. Follow Choice Words wherever you get your podcasts or listen ad free on Amazon music with your Prime membership.