Phoebe Robinson used to think that stand up was stupid. “I didn’t really think of it as a career choice,” she says. “But I had a friend who wanted to take a stand up class and didn’t want to go alone. So I went with her.”
Almost a decade later, what Robinson initially saw as an obligation to a friend has blossomed into a career. Today, she runs her own podcast, writes for Glamour, and has been seen on several television shows including The Daily Show and Broad City. The powerhouse comedian — named by Flavorpill as one of “11 essential young comedians in New York City” — will appear this weekend at Brightest Young Thing’s comedy festival, the Bentzen Ball.
Robinson’s dry humor is drawn from her experience as a black woman. “People always said, ‘Oh you’re just like a black Daria,'” she says. “I always liked that, so I combined the words for my blog and got Blaria.” Her straightforward stand up got her noticed by more than just TV execs and magazine editors, however. After a chance appearance on a Daily Show segment, Robinson met Jessica Williams — a regular on the comedy news show. “She said, ‘I know who you are, I’ve been following you,'” Robinson recalls. “I told her about my podcast, and she came on as a guest.” The rest, as they say, is history. Williams and Robinson became fast friends and collaborators.
On Saturday night at the Lincoln Theatre, Williams and Robinson will perform a live version of the Blaria podcast, hashing out recent events in pop culture that deal with racial and feminist issues. But Blaria wasn’t always as focused in its subject matter. “When I first started it, I kind of hoped people would just come with me on this journey,” she says. “But I realized, I was kind of a big feminist.” It was then that Robinson found her voice as a political comedian.
And where better for someone like Robinson to tour than Washington, D.C.? “Jess and I are really excited to bring the show to D.C. We love performing on the road,” she says. “And the crowds in D.C. are just so smart. It really feels like you can get a lot of people on board, and even try out some new stuff.” The other thing she’s looking forward to? Tig Notaro. “I’ve never worked with her before, but I think she’s so amazing. Whenever you watch her, it’s like a master class in comedy.”
Blaria Live! will perform at the Lincoln Theatre at 1215 U St NW, Washington, D.C. on Saturday, October 3rd. Doors open at 5:30 PM. Tickets are $25. For more information on the Bentzen Ball Festival, visit brightestyoungthings.com/bentzen-ball.
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