One night at Fat Baby, a comedy club on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Phoebe Robinson was the only female comic in the lineup.
Right before she went on, the male host introduced her: “Do you guys like p*ssy? Well, great, because our next comedian has one!”
When you’re the “only Black woman in a sea of white male comedians,” comments like that happen pretty often, Robinson tells Tech Insider.
Needless to say, she was fed up with it. So she decided to launch a new podcast: “Sooo Many White Guys,” where she can call the shots.
“A lot of [podcast] shows don’t realise how disrespectful they are to non-straight, white men,” she says. “So having a space like this — where that doesn’t happen — is really important. I want to have a show that’s going to celebrate people like the queens they are.”
Premiering July 13, “Sooo Many White Guys” will feature exclusively women, people of colour, and LGBT folks — except for the last episode of each season, when Robinson says she’ll interview “one token white dude.”
“He will speak for the entire white race,” she jokes.
The first season of the show, which is produced by WNYC Studios with “Broad City’s” Ilana Glazer as the executive producer, will include eight 45-minute episodes, released every Tuesday through August 30. In each episode, Robinson will interview a musician, actor, author, or other comic. The lineup includes Glazer, writer Janet Mock, and actor Nia Long. Hip-hop artist Lizzo kicks things off.
Robinson says she plans to invite people on the show who inspire her.
“I’ve come across so many talented people in my career, and I’m like ‘Why don’t more people know about them?'” she says. Robinson is quick to note, however, that she never wants to treat any artist as “other.”
“We’ve all been othered. We’ve all been treated as, oh, you’re this weird thing. You’re not the standard. You’re not the normal,” Robinson says, adding, “People like to pretend that all women have the same experience or that all gay people have the same experience. But everyone’s life is different, and everyone’s point of view is valid. I just want to encourage that and step out of the way.”
Robinson also co-hosts the popular stand-up comedy podcast “2 Dope Queens” with former “Daily Show” correspondent Jessica Williams — it’s the only podcast in iTunes’ top 50 that’s hosted by two women of colour. Of the top 100 most-downloaded podcasts, only 11 are hosted solely by women.
But it doesn’t have to be like that, Robinson says. Similar to “2 Dope Queens,” “Sooo Many White Guys” aims to highlight voices that normally aren’t given the mic. But in the new show, listeners will see a more serious side of Robinson.
“We’re living in hard times,” she says.”Yeah, we legalised gay marriage, but look at Orlando. I can’t make changes through legislation, but I can put a mic in front of my LGBTQ friends and have them comment on their lives.”
The idea behind the new podcast originated a few years ago, when Robinson started a live stand-up series — also called “Sooo Many White Guys” — at the comedy club Riot LA. When WNYC asked if she had any ideas for a new summer show (since “2 Dope Queens” doesn’t start again until fall), she suggested transforming the stand-up show into a talk show.
Though the topics might be less funny, Robinson still wants the show to feel like she’s just hanging out with her guests. For example, she plans ask Janet Mock about her work as a transgender activist, but also about hair, music, and their communal love of Oprah.
“On the surface, that might seem like light stuff, but talking about Beyoncé might trigger conversations about feminism, which might lead into talking about Bell Hooks and so on,” she says.
And, of course, Robinson’s personality as a comic will still shine through (with sprinkles of jokes from Glazer as well). Comedy can be a powerful tool to affect change, Robinson says, pointing out that the podcast’s name itself pokes fun at mainstream media.
“On our show,” she says, “diversity is the standard. It is the norm.”