2 Dope Queens: A Comedy Event (HBO)

Starring: Jessica Williams & Phoebe Robinson
Directed by: Tig Notaro 
Written by: Jessica Williams, Phoebe Robinson, Amy Aniobi

I’ve never been one to get into comedy special. I think the last one I truly enjoyed was Donald Glover’s Weirdo (now on Netflix, watch immediately). However, that didn’t sell me on the idea of sitting for an hour or two to watch someone on stage tell me jokes. 2 Dope Queens raised my expectations of what a comedy special can be and then some. They illuminate the stage with their personality then let others come up to chill.

Our Cocoa Khaleesi’s come in the form of Jessica Williams (The Daily Show, The Incredible Jessica James) and Phoebe Robinson (Sooo Many White Guys, Broad City). This comedy special comes from their podcast with the same name, 2 Dope Queens (now deep in episodes on iTunes, listen now), and listening to the podcast is just like watching the comedy special. HBO allowed Rogues Portal to watch the first two episodes of this fantastic new comedy special premiering on February 2nd at 11:30 PM. You know, when the kids go to sleep, and you have ALL the time for yourself.

I think it would be good to talk about the ladies first. From the very first episode of the comedy special, Jessica and Phoebe shine like the Cocoa Khaleesi’s they are. The ladies have outstanding chemistry together, and that’s the heart of what they do on their podcast and in this special. I rarely see two people together that just feed off of each others energy and talents. They never try to one-up each other but encourage each other. Even when they poke fun at one another on stage, it never seems malicious. It’s just two best friends doing what they love to do and wanting to share it with the world. You can tell that this thought comes first for them and it shows. 

One thing I loved about this special was the intimacy of the setting. We’re so used to comedy specials that have something in the back, or a curtain of their choosing. 2 Dope Queens gives us their version of a unique set up in a Brooklyn roof.

If you guys don’t know what that is, it’s pretty amazing, and you should deff visit one. When you live in a space in Brooklyn (or anywhere really, Brooklyn’s just a good example), you can decorate your roof. It becomes this commonplace for everyone who lives in the building with you. A place they can take their friends, have drinks, talk shit and not care about the world for just a little bit. Jessica and Phoebe take this space and make it their own, allowing others to come and hang out in their space and tell jokes and stories. This makes the special feel so much more personal and gives an understanding of the comedians they invite to the scene.

We’re gonna take this night by night.

Show #1 – The ladies start with a skit as their not able to get into the venue with their name alone. They find out their night in NYC is sold out. This then transitions into them on stage introducing themselves and showing everyone their easy going and hilarious chemistry. From there, the girls will do their banter then they bring out a special guest comic, three each episode. For the first episode, Michelle Buteau, Mark Normand, and Baron Vaughn grace the stage. 

Michelle Buteau is first to grace the stage, but she was in the middle of the comedy factor for me. Her jokes landed, but you can tell they’re geared towards a specific type of person. That doesn’t make her unfunny though. Mark Normand was the second guest, and he was… meh. He wasn’t BAD, but with his awkward laughter and terrible jokes, I wasn’t into it. You can tell the audience wasn’t into it either. He didn’t get the biggest laughs of the night like the Queens, Buteau, and Vaughn, but he was okay-ish.  

Baron Vaughn slayed it. I don’t frequent comedians on a daily basis, but he’s one that I immediately looked up right after the special. He’s not only funny but can easily transition from one topic to the next without awkward pauses. He tunes into the audience laugh to know if he’s doing a good job and expands upon it.

The best thing about the first show was the Queens with their special guest, Jon Stewart. As you may know (or don’t… I don’t watch TV with you), Jessica Williams and Jon go way back to The Daily Show where she was a special correspondent on the show, and the two of them have been buds ever since. The girls banter with Stewart is criminally funny as Stewart shares stories of New York, his history with Williams and the girls test him on NYC pizza. (Spoilers: He knows his shit.) 

Show #2 – HairOur Queens come to the stage looking as fly as can be. Phoebe Robinson is sporting some great hair this episode, and that’s the topic of their show. Hair. As a black non-binary, the of hair struggle is way too real. For the second episode,  Aparna Nancherla. Rhea Butcher and Sheng Wang hit the stage showing us what they can do. (Or attempt, comedy is hard people.) Also, special guest Sarah Jessica Parker learns about hair with our Queens. I know what you’re thinking. It’s really good! 

I’ll keep it short and sweet for Aparna Nancherla and Rhea Butcher. They did a great job in their time onstage. I adored Nancherla’s upfront and relatability. Rhea Butcher had my heart when she told us a story. It honestly seems like she was taking us back and forth throughout her time in Lyft rides and her gender. Holy f*ck, it was hilarious. However, Sheng Wang was a motherf*cking hit.

Sheng Way, f*cking NAILED it. He came out looking like he was going through some serious emotional shit. He played it up for the audience and what does he end up talking about? Avocados. It was BRILLIANT. He kept this going for awhile until he easily switched over to talking about doctor visits, but I was still stuck on how long he talked about these avocados that nothing else would have mattered.

Verdict: Watch It! If you don’t think comedy specials are good, I think this one will convert you. It’s funny, unabashed, in your face and entirely raw. There’s nothing like two ladies who can tell you like it is without a second thought. Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson allow us on their rooftop, and I’m so happy to be apart of it. 

2 Dope Queens Show #1 premieres on HBO February 2nd at 11:3o PM. Show #2 – Hair premieres on HBO February 9th at 11:30 PM. 

Seriously guys. Listen to the podcast. It’s hilarious. Also, if someone knows the ending song for the specials @ me on Twitter. 

Insha Fitzpatrick
ifitzpatri@gmail.com
writes for geek.com. co-managing editor & tv/film editor for rogues portal. hufflepuff. talks on film runners. craves horror films. loves true crime. tries her best.

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