Review: “2 Dope Queens,” many dope perspectives in HBO variety series

Turning a podcast into a TV special, let alone a four-part series, doesn’t make sense for most podcasts.

But 2 Dope Queens isn’t any podcast.

The hit WNYC podcast from Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams is part two-woman comedy duo, part improv, part chat show, part stand-up storytelling showcase. It already is a variety series, ready-made for TV.

Even better for HBO. The fourth of the four variety hours of 2 Dope Queens on HBO premieres tonight. You can catch all of the specials On Demand via HBO Go or HBO NOW.

“I think people like the fact that they can hear black women talking and hanging out,” Robinson said during the 2 Dope Queens promotional press tour.

Williams added: “We always try to make sure that we have either a woman, or a person of color, member of the LGBTQ community doing stand-up because, oftentimes, as black women in entertainment we are the supporting characters in other people’s narratives, and for 2 Dope Queens, we get to be the stars of our own. And not only that, but give a platform for our friends to do that as well.”

Each of the four variety specials includes its own theme, celebrity guest and trio of stand-ups.

The “New York” episode featured Jon Stewart taste-testing pizza slices, stand-up from Michelle Buteau, Mark Normand and Baron Vaughn, and a bit up top in which Robinson and Williams reminisced about their first apartments in New York City.

Stewart was an obvious choice for their debut guest, not only because he had given Williams her first big break by hiring her as a correspondent on The Daily Show for Comedy Central, but also because he’s got his own HBO stand-up and projects in the works.

Looking around Kings Theatre in Brooklyn where they taped the specials, Stewart observed: “It is gorgeous, but you both deserve it.” He added: “There’s not a lot that could get me out of the house, but…”

“These cocoa Khaleesis!” Robinson interjected.

Stewart: “I don’t know what that means.”

So he has still has some HBO Thrones watching to do. Obviously.

The second episode, “Hair,” featured HBO double-winner Sarah Jessica Parker (Sex and the City, Divorce) not only asking the queens about their weave maintenance, but also helping Robinson with her heels, plus stand-up from Aparna Nancherla, Rhea Butcher, and Sheng Wang.

The third episode, “Hot Peen,” included pinot drinking with Tituss Burgess (Netflix’s Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), Robinson’s confessions about trying to hook up with Jon Hamm, plus stand-up from John Early, Jackie Kashian and Kevin Barnett

In tonight’s final special, “Blerds,” Uzo Aduba (Netflix’s Orange is the New Black) joins Phoebe and Jessica to discuss her childhood years as a figure skater, plus comedians Naomi Ekperigin, Al Jackson and Gary Gulman.

It’s a winning way to wind down after a hard week. Don’t be surprised to see these queens come back for even more fun hangs on HBO in the future.


If you need even more of an introduction, well, then, here you go:

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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