Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson love TV, books, movies, and comedy, just like you — they just also happen to be respected actresses and comedians themselves, which is why they have a series of four HBO comedy specials airing throughout the month of February, and you … don’t.
Their 2 Dope Queens specials, which focus on themes “New York,” “Hair,” “Hot Peen,” and “Black Nerds” (a.k.a. Blerds) and air every Friday in February at 11:30 p.m., feature the same hallmarks as their podcast of the same name: hilarious discussions between BFFs, a variety of stand-up comedians performing sets, and an interview with a celebrity guest (Jon Stewart, Sarah Jessica Parker, Tituss Burgess, and Uzo Aduba). The conversations are unguarded and not full of canned quotes — they have SJP ask them questions about black hair and Jon Stewart taste-test pizza.
Rotten Tomatoes caught up with the duo at the Los Angeles premiere of 2 Dope Queens to talk to them about their pop culture obsessions (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones), the process of bringing their podcast to television, and who they hope to snag for future installments.
(Photo by Helen Sloan/HBO)
Jean Bentley for Rotten Tomatoes: What are you watching on TV right now?
Jessica Williams: Right now my boyfriend and I are watching Billions. Last Man on Earth I love, it makes me laugh. Always Buffy — if I’ve had a couple of drinks I can always come home to Buffy and get down to that. What else? Black Mirror, Broadchurch I love — they’re so amazing.
Phoebe Robinson: I’m a little behind on This Is Us, but I love that show. It makes me cry all the time. Game of Thrones, obviously, Insecure, Keeping Up With the Kardashians, because you’ve got to have a lot of low brow with the high brow. I’ve been watching a lot of tennis on TV, and I’ve been watching Chris Hayes— I’ve got to be smart, too.
How do you think Game of Thrones is going to end?
Robinson: I’m really bad at predicting stuff for Game of Thrones, but I really think Jaime is going to kill Cersei, because she is out of control. She needs to be stopped. And I think that Jon Snow and Daenerys are going to co-run everything together. But I don’t know, because they’re going to find out they’re related.
The last episode of your show is about black nerds, or “blerds.” What do you nerd out about?
Williams: I love TV. I love Harry Potter — all of it, all of the lore, all of the canon. I’m so about it. I love The Sims, it’s a video game that I like to play. I love Pokemon that I play on Nintendo 3DS. I really like video games, and I really like Harry Potter. Those are the two things.
HELLO THERE. I AM SCREAMING BECAUSE I AM GOING TO BE IN FANTASTIC BEASTS. 😩😃😃 https://t.co/k4UAT9y5gc
— Jessica R. Williams (@msjwilly) October 6, 2017
Who’s your dream guest?
What other topics would you want to do shows about?
Robinson: I would love to be a team player and really truly start talking about Harry Potter, because I just started reading the books for Jessica. I finished the first book and it was really good. I’m starting book two, so I’m like, “Let me nerd out with you and maybe we can have J.K. Rowling on or Daniel Radcliffe and have a fun moment.” I would love to talk about sports more. I’m a huge sports person — tennis, basketball, all that fun stuff. I would love to maybe have LeBron James on, because I’m from Cleveland and I love him.
(Photo by HBO)
What was the process like in bringing the podcast to TV?
Williams: Initially we met up with HBO and we were like, “What can we do to zhuzh up the podcast?” And they were like, “We just want 2 Dope Queens.” We were like, “What?” And they were like, “Yeah, just be 2 Dope Queens.” We added a few things — we have Tig Notaro directing the specials, which is amazing. We have Amy Aniobi, who is a writer on Insecure, head writing our episodes. We added those elements, but it’s essentially just us being ourselves.
How does it feel to be two young women with not one, but four HBO comedy specials?
Robinson: I’ve been doing comedy for 10 years so it really feels like any time anyone gets to this level — and I’ve seen people like Ali Wong and others — it just feels like all the hard work that went into it, all the times I did crappy biker bar shows for free or I had to take a freelance writing gig for $50, all those struggles of being like, “Am I funny? Am I doing a good job?,” all that stuff was worth it.
2 Dope Queens episodes premiere Fridays at 11:30 p.m. in February on HBO.