6 Comedians to Put on Your Radar from ‘2 Dope Queens’ Host Phoebe Robinson

In just a couple months, 2 Dope Queens has become podcast royalty, consistently landing on iTunes’s charts and other sites’ “required listening” lists.

Hosted by comedians Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson, the show melds comedy and storytelling, often spotlighting up-and-coming talent. After their sold-out Brooklyn shows started to gain buzz, Williams and Robinson approached WNYC Studios in order to reach a bigger audience. Launched in April, so far the podcast has featured funny, insightful guests like Hari Kondabolu, Janeane Garofalo, Jean Grae, Baratunde Thurston, and Beth Stelling

“We felt like it would be something that would resonate with a lot of people, just because our audiences tend to be so diverse: different ages, different races, different sexual orientations,” says Robinson, who met her co-host while Williams was shooting a piece for The Daily Show. “But [when] we were on top of iTunes the first week we debuted, we didn’t expect that. That was pretty wild and crazy.” 

2 Dope Queens’s first season wraps June 14, but the hosts plan to record more new episodes this summer. Also coming up is a sold-out appearance at the Werk It women’s podcast festival, held June 15-17 in New York. (Werk It’s daytime panels will be streamed at wnyc.org.)

Below, Robinson shares a few of her favorite up-and-coming comedians, some of whom may pop up on future episodes. 

“We always have our ears and eyes open for people who are really talented,” she says. “Once we fall in love with them, we’re like, ‘You’re doing our show—you can’t say no!’”

1. BARON VAUGHN

“I am obsessed with him,” Robinson says of the L.A.-based comedian, who can be seen on Netflix’s Grace and Frankie and heard on the podcast Maltin on Movies, which he co-hosts alongside film critic Leonard Maltin

2. NAOMI EKPERIGIN

“Jess and I love, love, love her,” Robinson says of the comedian, who also works as a writer on Broad City. “She just got a half-hour for Comedy Central, which is a huge deal.” (You can hear Ekperigin on the April 7 episode of 2 Dope Queens titled “Billy Joel Has the Softest Hands.”)

3. ALI WONG

Robinson raves about this L.A. comedian and writer, whose one-hour Netflix comedy special, Baby Cobra, has been gaining buzz since its release last month. “She talks about what’s it like to be a new mother, and that’s just a perspective you don’t really hear,” she says. “Like, you hear about Louis CK being a dad, but you don’t hear the female perspective, and I think that’s really cool.” 

4. JOSH SHARP

“He’s Southern, he’s gay, and he has a really interesting, super-funny, very quick perspective that I like,” says Robinson, who did a standup show with him recently and was blown away. “I was like, ‘Whoa, this guy needs to be on a bigger platform.’” 

5. APARNA NANCHERLA

Robinson applauds this “very different and quirky” comedian who also writes for Late Night with Seth Meyers. “I know everyone says this, but I really do feel like this is a really great time for comedy, because I feel like it’s so diverse,” she adds. “Not just in terms of like, ‘Oh, they’re women and people of color,’ but [in terms of] the different kinds of women that can succeed, I think it’s better than ever.” 

6. LINDY WEST

Robinson says she’s a longtime fan of this former Jezebel writer and author of the recent memoir Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman. (West appeared on the June 7 episode.) “I was like, ‘I know you’re crazy and on the middle of a book tour, but would you ever want to do our podcast?’” Robinson says. “She was like, ‘Yeah, my agent is, like, this 50-year-old white guy. He loves your show.’ She read from her book, and it was just so funny and so good.”

She adds, “That definitely made us feel like, ‘Oh yeah, we want to have more people read from books on our show.’ Like, in a dream world, if I could get David Sedaris, I would cry.” 

In addition to 2 Dope Queens, Robinson hosts a web series, Woke Bae, for Refinery29’s RIOT channel. Her new book of essays, You Can’t Touch My Hair, will be released in October.

For more of Whitney Matheson’s podcast interviews and recommendations, visit the archive.

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S-Town Podcast Is Being Turned Into a Movie

S-Town, a seven-part podcast from Serial and This American Life, has all the trappings of a binge-worthy story. It all started when a man from the tiny town of Woodstock, Alabama asked a reporter to investigate a local man from a wealthy family who allegedly boasted he had gotten away with murder.

As for what happens next, “someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man's life,” reads the 2017 podcast’s synopsis, without giving too much away.

Now, that riveting story is being turned into a movie with This American Life’s participation, IndieWire reports. Participant Media acquired the rights to the S-Town podcast, and negotiations are underway to get playwright Samuel Hunter and director Tom McCarthy on board. McCarthy is perhaps best known for directing and co-writing 2015's Oscar-winning Spotlight; he also co-wrote Up and was an executive producer and director for the controversial Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.

S-Town was downloaded over 10 million times over a period of four days after its release, and it received a Peabody Award for the radio/podcast category, according to IndieWire. Just last month, HBO and Sky announced they would be releasing a documentary series about Adnan Syed, the focus of the first season of the Serial podcast, which is developed by This American Life.

In case you missed S-Town when it premiered, you can go back and listen to it here.

[h/t IndieWire]

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There's Now a Podcast That Plays Nothing But Laughter for Six Hours Straight
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If you’re the kind of person who loathes sitcoms with a laugh track, this one probably isn’t for you. A podcast (that might be a generous term) called “Radio Haha” has been launched in celebration of World Laughter Day on May 6, and it plays nothing but laughter—for six hours straight.

In the podcast, produced by UK apartment share service SpareRoom, you’ll hear some guffaws and giggles, and plenty of cackles and chortles. It may seem absurd at first, but listen long enough and you might find yourself laughing, too. That’s because laughter is contagious, even when it comes from an artificial source.

One study by neuroscientist and “laughter expert” Robert Provine revealed that 90 percent of test subjects smiled while listening to 19 seconds of laughter generated by a novelty store toy, and nearly half laughed along. This study and others like it suggest that the dreaded laugh track does in fact work, even if many modern TV viewers find it tacky.

Science has also shown that many health benefits are associated with laughter. Not only does it release endorphins that make you feel good, but it also relieves stress, improves your immune system, reduces blood pressure, relieves pain, and improves brain function.

Presented with all this evidence, one doctor in India invented “laughter yoga,” a movement that has been growing ever since it was founded in 1995. Dr. Madan Kataria realized that even forced laughter can trigger a genuine giggle, leading him to create the very first laughter club, which spawned the first World Laughter Day.

The inaugural event in Mumbai, India, attracted over 12,000 members of local and international “laughter clubs." Participants carried signs, marched, and bellowed "ho-ho-ho, ha-ha" in unison, making it seem a little more like a protest than a joyous celebration. (If so, it would have been the happiest protest in history.) Check out some footage of the first World Laughter Day below.

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