Oct. 18, 2021

Building a Mini Comedy Empire with Phoebe Robinson

Building a Mini Comedy Empire with Phoebe Robinson

Is it ever okay to sit on the bed in your outside clothes?


Writer, comedian, and producer Phoebe Robinson joins Nora and Scott to talk about show biz, creating her HBO special 2 Dope Queens, her production company Tiny Reparations, time management, self-care, and why breaking out in comedy takes longer than you might think.

Also, you gotta check out Phoebe’s fancy Gucci sneaks.

The complete transcript of this episode is available below

Transcript

Nora Ali: From Morning Brew. This is Business Casual, the podcast that gives you a front row seat to candid conversations with some of the biggest names in business, asking them the questions you wish you could ask. I'm your host, Nora Ali. 

Scott Rogowsky: And I’m your other host, Scott Rogowsky. Nora and I are here for your ears, bringing you stories of how business shapes our daily lives now and into the future. And BC listeners, here's the thing: We always want to hear from you. Send us an email at businesscasual@morningbrew.com or DM us on Twitter @buzcasualpod that's B I Z Casual pod.

Nora Ali: You could also leave a voice memo on our website, businesscasual.fm, or give us a ring and leave an old fashioned voicemail. Our number is 862-295-1135 that's 8 6 2 2 9 5 1 1 3 5.

Scott Rogowsky: All right, now that that's out of the way, Nora, what do you say we get down to business? 

Nora Ali: Today we're going to talk about show business and hear from a person who has worked relentlessly to build her career and a unique brand in comedy, which is no small feat. Phoebe Robinson is a writer, comedian, and producer who has in her own words been building a mini empire for the past two years and counting. Much of her comedy encourages honest, inclusive, and hilarious conversation around some pretty complicated issues. Scott, we talk about how anything can be a business and I maintain that Scott Rogowsky is a business and you are in the business of comedy. So what is the business of Scott Rogowsky in comedy? What does that mean, Scott? Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah, there is definitely that element of being an entrepreneur and starting the business of you as a comedian. It's smart to look at it as being, as Kim Perell would say, the CEO of your own life. And honestly not in a sort of an inspirational quote way, but in a practical way. Because if you want to do this as a career, then you have to pay attention to the finances, the credits and debits, buying a ticket to go somewhere to do a show. And you know, there are expenses to doing this stuff, but maybe you make that investment. I always thought of it as investing in yourself and yeah, like Phoebe talks about in our conversation with her, you eat it for the first seven to ten years. You're not making money. There was one year where I filed my tax returns and I was like negative $2,000.

Nora Ali: Oh no. 

Scott Rogowsky: I'm not kidding. After all the expenses. Yeah. You know, because I was doing video and I was buying equipment. And then the hope is that eventually you build up that capital in yourself and other people start to realize, okay, I see that you're talented. I see you can create good things, so I'm going to hire you to make a video. And then you slowly start adding up your revenue and your income. And then yes, your taxes should change. And it's a slow process. It's not overnight, there's no boss saying you got promoted. So that's really what it comes down to. And that's why the show business is so difficult because there's no one over your shoulder. There's no real milestones or goalposts or corporate ladder to climb. You have to just kind of keep doing it and doing it and doing it well, doing it and doing it and doing it well until, you know, someone says, yeah, here's some money to go make a thing. Or here's some money to do a show.

Nora Ali: There's no business like show business. And our guest, Phoebe, had some similarities in your story where she explained how it's not glamorous for a very long time. And she has a really interesting career path. Phoebe, she's well-known, as we know for her podcast turned HBO show Two Dope Queens; her podcast, Sooo Many White Guys, and also her three essay collections as well. Phoebe also launched a production company and a literary imprint, both called Tiny Reparations. Phoebe's work focuses on complex personal topics, including race, hair, dating, gender, Black excellence, the list goes on. And Phoebe Robinson joins us today to tell us about the business of comedy, the shared mission of all of her work, and her new essay collection, Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes.

Scott Rogowsky: You’re gonna lovePhoebe Rob on Biz Cas. Phoebe, good to see you. 

Phoebe Robinson: So good to see you, too. It’s been a minute. 

Nora Ali: Wait, am I third-wheeling here? How do you guys, how far back do you guys go?

Phoebe Robinson: 2014? ’14? Something like that? Yeah. 

Scott Rogowsky: I mean, I was in New York since 2007 doing standup. When did you move to New York?

Phoebe Robinson: I moved to New York in 2002 for college and I started standup 2008. 

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. Where'd you like get started? ’Cause I know you started late, right? Like 24? 

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah, I took a standup class at Caroline's on Broadway because my college friend Lindsey wanted to take a class and she didn't want to do it by herself and we had done like improv informally in college, on our campus. And so I was like, standup is really whack. I don’t want to do this. And then she like, let's just give it a go. It might be like super fun. And I was like, all right. And then yeah, of course it like changed my whole life.

Nora Ali: You started at 24. Is that considered late? As someone who does not come from comedy, that's like late in life? 

Phoebe Robinson: That is late for stand up just because, and Scott can attest to this, like standup is really not glamorous for a very long time and you aren't making any money, you're you know? So you kind of like have to have a lot of roommates or you're, you're living like in a, kind of a cheap, crappy apartment. And so usually like I know like Hasan Minhaj started when he was like 18, 19. Usually it's like college years is when you tend to start standup.

Scott Rogowsky: I was 20, I think. But yeah, Gilbert Godfrey was 15. Like some people, you get in there early and because yeah, you gotta be reckless to want to do it. You gotta have that teenage mentality of I'm invincible, nothing can kill me, because you likely will get killed on stage. Was that a good experience for you for your first time?

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was definitely something where I think just because I never had any dreams of doing standup. So it was really just sort of like, oh, this is a really fun thing that I discovered that I like at least have stage presence even if, though, my jokes when I was starting out were like kind of garbage. It was like, oh, I can like be on stage and feel comfortable. And then once I really figured out this is what I should be doing with my life, then I was like, watching all these specials and did my comedy college a little bit later than other people. But it was a lot of fun.

Nora Ali: I want to understand. What was that turning point for you where you realized, wait a second, I can actually sustain myself and I can have a career in comedy versus it just being something I'm dabbling in as a side hustle? What was that pivot point?

Phoebe Robinson: So I took a class, July 2008 and then it was doing open mics and I was like, oh yeah, I should definitely, this should definitely be the path I go down. So I still had a day job. And then this indie film company I was working out folded in October, 2008. And I was like, this is a sign. So I just did like a lot of temping, sort of like basic admin work, during the day. And then I was doing open mics like wherever I could get up, you know, going to Staten island, doing bar shows, doing laundry mat shows, doing apartment shows. Of course, none of those like paid. I would check Megabus and Bolt Bus and await wait until like, there was like a $1 bus ticket to Boston. I would like go stay on friends’ couches so I could do shows in Boston for free. And I don't know how this was for you, Scott, but like when you started, you're just like, okay, I have to hit the ground running because I know I'm not going to make money at this for a while until I get good.

Scott Rogowsky: Oh yeah. And building your brand or building the comedy business and yes, this is Business Casual or Biz Cas as we should refer to it when we're with you, Phoebe, because abbreviations, abbreves, are a signature of your comedy style. This is something Nora and I talked about: How do we spell Biz Cas? The “Cas” part specifically. 

Phoebe Robinson: OK. I would do C A Z S H

Scott Rogowsky: Oooh OK. 

Nora Ali: Wow, that’s a lot. 

Scott Rogowsky: It's almost as long. May as well just stick to “Casual.”

Phoebe Robinson: That's the thing about my abbreves is most of the time, they're just as long if I spell it the correct way, which I'm also like, that's part of the joke because I'm just wasting everyone's time. 

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah. But no, getting back to the point about comedy as a business and starting your brand and the similarities if you call yourself an entrepreneur, right. Starting out as a standup comedian, you're like, you know what, I'm going to start the business of Phoebe Robinson. A lot of the things that I find similar are the networking aspects, because as you network in business, you meet people, you sort of level up and it's all about chasing down the producers. Who's hosting that show? How can we get booked on that show? And then I'll, I'll start my own show. So then I'll book you on my show and you do my show, you know, everyone's doing favors for each other, but who were some of those people early on for you that building out your network you became friends with or became at least just kind of professional acquaintances with that helped you sort of propel yourself along?

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah. I think my oldest friend in comedy is Nore Davis. So him, Jamie Lee, her and I used to do open mics together all the time. And now she's an Emmy winner which is just like so freaking cool.

Nora Ali: It feels like networking is probably even more important in the world of entertainment generally because it's full of archaic practices in many ways. Things move really slowly. There's gatekeeping by the kinds of people who have held power for all eternity in the world of entertainment. So, Phoebe, how did you break through and break out early on, especially with Two Dope Queens, with the podcast and the HBO special. How did you navigate the noise when there are certain people who often hold the keys to the kingdom?

Phoebe Robinson: Well, I would say I didn't break out early. That would be my big thing. You know, when Two Dope Queens went to HBO, that was what, 2018. So 10 years in. Man, 10 years is like a long time. I mean, there are people where they break later. So like Tiffany Haddish. So I don't want to be like, oh, so long, but like in any other industry or career path, people would be like, maybe you should just quit. It's been 10 years. And like, hasn't worked out for you, but just standup is that being where you can't control when you're going to break out, you just have to keep grinding and working on your skillset so that you can be ready for that moment. So I think for me, because I started in standup and I really had that sort of focus and that hustle, like I was writing my own material. I was getting up every night. Like the only way I was going to get good was if I made myself go out, I think it helped me develop a work ethic. So that as I was watching like the Sasheer Zamatas get on like SNL and like everyone I know get on like Girl Code, which I like tried to get on, you know, like all these people are having all these opportunities. Like I think of my circle of friends was one of the last ones to sort of break out. So I was just watching everyone else, like really just chug along. And I was just like, oh shit, like, that's so cool. That's so cool. Then I'd be like, well, I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I just gotta keep going and maybe the tide will turn for me and it did. And I think with Two Dope Queens, what was so unexpected about that is Jessica and I truly just started to show ’cause we're like, well, we know a bunch of funny women. We know a bunch of funny gay people. We know a bunch of funny people of color who aren't doing late night sets. So we'll just host our own show. But the HBO of it all was not the end game. It was truly, let's just do a live show for fun and make a few bucks at it. And that was really what it was supposed to be. And then we saw the momentum with it and I was like, I think we could get this on HBO. And I know this sounds crazy to be that confident, but I was like, you know, it just reminded me of Comic Relief, like what they used to do back in the day and there hadn't been sort of a variety standup show on HBO in a while. So I thought maybe we can sort of like get in there something like different than what they've done recently. And I think that worked to our advantage. So that really helped, but breaking out always takes longer than people think it will take.

Nora Ali: And in your own words, Phoebe, you've been building a mini empire for the last two years and counting. So you're always working on something new and Scott and I have talked about this before, where over the last year and a half especially, we've all been trying to slow down just a little bit and find happiness and contentment and the present. We're always go, go, go, go and looking for the next milestone, the next thing. And you've talked pretty openly about therapy and I think starting or restarting therapy during the pandemic as did I. So how do you slow down? How do you find those moments of Zen and just be sort of content with all the success that you have already had to date?

Phoebe Robinson: It's a great question. I think with COVID we all had to just sort of stop and be still for a second, even though I was like working and stuff, it was like, well, I still am just inside these four walls of my apartment. And so for me it just was like, okay, I've been grinding at this for a while and this has been great and I'm appreciative of where it got me, but then I was also of the mindset of like, do I want to keep moving at this pace forever? Now that I have this moment of stillness where I can sit and be reflective. Instead of being like, okay, cross it off my to-do list. Next, next thing next, next, next. And then I was just like, yeah, I think I'm kind of tired of racing through experiences and not being fully present. I think I'd really notice how much I was not present in the past because of COVID. I'd be like racing through conversations or whatever. And so for me, I'm just like, give people your undivided attention. I meditate now, I'm only doing 10 minutes. Like I started out doing five minutes and maybe like a minute. And I'd be like, when is this fucking over? I need to go work. I need to go do something like make myself be busy. And I was like, oh, you can't even sit still for five minutes. That's kind of not great. That's something I'm continuing to work on, but that has helped a lot. And then I started running a little bit too, which I should say jogging. Let me say jog. It's not, it's not a run. 

Scott Rogowsky: A trot. 

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah. I trot.

Nora Ali: That's how I run is a bouncy walk. 

Phoebe Robinson: I like to trot, but it's nice because you just throw on some music and you trot a little bit and you're like, okay. I did like 30 minutes of trotting today. I feel good.

Scott Rogowsky: Mall walking, you know, just get the legs moving a little bit. Well, we are not slowing down with Phoebe. We're going to break into a sprint any second here, but before we do it, we're taking a quick break. When we come back, we're going to dive deeper into all of Phoebe's different projects and ventures. And there are many of them. 

[AD BREAK]

Scott Rogowsky: So yeah, Phoebe, I understand what you mean by slowing down and taking time. But truly when you think about the breadth of, of your work right now, and all the things you have going on, there's the Comedy Central show, which aired over this past year, which was great. By the way, Kevin Bacon on the ropes course. 

Phoebe Robinson: He was so great. 

Scott Rogowsky: He was so great. I like have a new appreciation for Kevin Bacon now after that. So you've got that happening and then you have the special, but then there's this free form show. And then there's this book that just came out a couple of weeks ago on your birthday, I think. Happy belated.

Phoebe Robinson: Yes, thank you! 

Nora Ali: I saw you had some Michael B. Jordan cakes, like a lot of Michael B. Jordan themed things to celebrate. 

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah, he's dreamy. Very, very dreamy. 

Nora Ali: He's also my idol.

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah. 

Nora Ali: Yeah. So I mean, this collection of essays, Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes, first of all, could not agree more. Like that's disgusting when people sit on the subway and then--

Scott Rogowsky: I’m gonna disagree with this. And I'll tell you something else that I probably shouldn't be sharing on a public podcast, but with my last serious girlfriend, a blessed memory, no, she's still alive but the relationship isn’t. We were in a hotel in Florida. Parents were in the room and we had just got off the plane together. And I sit down this hotel room on top of the sheets and her mother goes, “What are you doing? Sitting on the bed with your plane clothes on? Get off the bed!” With my plane clothes on. Like, these clothes were soiled by the airplane that we just sat on. 

Phoebe Robinson: Yes, they were! 

Scott Rogowsky: No they’re not!

Phoebe Robinson: Scott, planes are so disgusting! Oh my god. 

Scott Rogowsky: Let me break this down. Their clothes. They're not wet. They're not absorbing germs. They're not like some kind of mucus membrane. Okay. Two

Nora Ali: Scott, do you keep your shoes on inside your home? You seem like the kind of person--

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah, don't do that.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah!

Nora Ali: No!

Phoebe Robinson: No! Oh my god. I’m leaving. 

Scott Rogowsky: I’m wearing three pairs of shoes right now.

Nora Ali: Okay. Well, before we get more into the contents of this book, Phoebe, there's a lot to discuss. I do want to ask you about your creative process because I've been reflecting a lot on time management and it's hard to do creative writing and creative work where I've tried the Pomodoro clock. 

Phoebe Robinson: I love that. That’s what I did for this past book, and it helped. 

Nora Ali: OK, good. Yeah. So it's like the 25 minute increments where you focus on one thing, but what are some of the tips and tricks that you've uncovered? Because you have so much writing that you've done, both for your book, for your comedy, for your specials, the list is endless for you.

Phoebe Robinson: I think the biggest thing that I've learned from the years and years of writing is I used to always be like, once you sit down and write, you just have to write and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And now I'm very much like there are just days where it is, it's not going to happen. And you just have to accept it and staying in front of your computer, at your notebook and forcing yourself to write something that most likely won't be good because it's not coming from a place of enjoyment, but just like to fill a workout quota. And my biggest trick is that I always try to stop my writing sessions while I'm in the middle of a groove. So it's like leaving myself wanting more where I'm like, oh yeah, I'm crushing this. This is like super funny. Okay, I'm going to put a pin in this and then pick back up. Because I feel like when I return to that, the ideas that I would've put on the page that’ve been percolating in my mind will be easier for me to get back into writing the next day or the next session or whatever. So those are some of the things, but Pomodoro, I really like, because it helped me, I could do like four or five hours and then get 1200 words done. And then I can be done writing for the day and feel like, okay, I can go hang out with my boyfriend or I can go for a trot or I can watch Hulu or Netflix and enjoy my day. Instead of feeling like I have to write 24/7, which doesn't work for me. 

Scott Rogowsky: This seems to be part of the self-care routine that you are a big espouser of: work ethic and self-care tied together here, because you've described yourself as a workaholic, a reformed workaholic now. Can you share what you've realized about self-care and therapy and what works for you, what doesn't work? And is it so individual and customized or are there things you can impart to others?

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah. I mean the one thing that I love about therapy and I realize it's not something that everyone can afford and I feel like in this country, therapy should be affordable for literally anyone who wants it, but it just was about putting things into perspective for me a little bit, and sort of not tying so much of my identity to my work, because I think it’s very easy when you like grind and hustle all the time to be like, okay, well, what I do is completely who I am. And so having a life coach and a therapist just really helps me remember, like, it's great to do all this stuff, but you want to be able to celebrate the wins. You want to be able to like, you know, the people are what make the things super special. And so I just had to really get in the process of prioritizing work and friendships and relationships equally. People are going to sense that you treat them as a, I'll get to you whenever I can, and you create distance. And I didn't want that. So now I'm really just trying to work on being fully present with people who want to spend time with me. 

Nora Ali: Phoebe, I imagine it's even harder though, to separate your identity from your work when you're, yes, you're in comedy, but you're also dealing with kind of deep topics. And one of the goals of your production company, Tiny Reparations, is to show women, people of color, anyone on the LGBTQIA plus spectrum, that they can be the heroes of their own movies and shows. And we've had a very challenging last couple of years, especially. A difficult lifetime in discussing issues of racial and gender and inequality in many shapes and forms. So that is something that you talk a lot about in your book, which I do want to go back to. You talk about essentially the lip service that corporations had displayed in light of the events of last summer.

They sent out statements of support, commitment to diversity, without actually committing to anything meaningful in many cases. So just to bring this a little bit more deep, if you will let me for a moment, what do you want to see from corporations, from companies, from businesses, to prove that they actually care? And they're not just saying things for PR’s sake. 

Phoebe Robinson: I think for me, it's just really about putting it into action. Like, I don't need the press release. You know, and the press releases were like coming from everywhere. It'd be like hotels and stuff. And you're like, what is this? If you really just want to hire people from a multitude of backgrounds, change your hiring policies. It's really not that hard to just include everyone in the hiring process. I could look at someone like an Ava DuVernay or Mindy Kaling or Issa Ray. They always seem to be able to find women that can like work on their projects. And there's so often we're told like, oh, there's just not enough women or like not qualified and I’m like, there are all these showrunners who are able to figure it out and so for me, I think that people would just want to say the right thing. So they like, don't get cussed out on social media. And I'm like, I understand no one wants to get cussed out. But I feel as though long-lasting change is only going to happen if each entity does one or two things and then over time stuff will change. But I just think it's just too much work for a lot of people. They just don't want to put the effort in. So they don't.

Nora Ali: Yeah. And to the point of getting called out, if you don't say something, I feel like for lack of a better phrase, white people have been stuck in a pickle in many ways. Because if you don't say something, then you are deemed to not care. But then if you do say something, try to stand up for, you know, your colleagues of color or whatever it may be, you might be deemed a quote unquote, white savior, which is another chapter that I think is so excellent in your book. It's called “We Don't Need Another White Savior.”

Scott Rogowsky: I’ll see myself out. 

Nora Ali: Scott, Scott has taken off, come back, Scott. We need Scott to be a part of the conversation. 

Scott Rogowsky: But thank you. Thank you, by the way, for saying how hard it is for white people. I appreciate you finally telling the world this because yeah. 

Nora Ali: I got a lot of DMs, Phoebe, from my white friends last summer, and they were like, “Hey, I don't know what to do. Can you tell me what to do?” I'm like, it's not my job to tell you what to do. And they're just so stuck. So, Phoebe, if you had to give a piece of advice to people who just want to help, don't want to be that white savior, especially in the workplace, in a place of business, what is a good way to show support at work without seeming like you're, solving it.

Scott Rogowsky: So Nora’s saying it’s not her job, Phoebe, it’s your job.

Nora Ali: Solve it, Phoebe, solve it. 

Phoebe Robinson: I think one simple way is especially now that we're all on Zoom for the foreseeable fut, that's feature, but you know, we're all doing way more meetings now than we were before. And so one thing that I try to do, like in Zoom meetings, if I see someone wants to chime in, but they feel like they're being talked over, I'll be like, “Oh, I think so-and-so has something they want to say, go ahead and share.” And that's just like at helpful way to make women and people of color and queer people feel like I can express my opinions. I can have my voice. And just really making sure everyone who has something they want to say, and they have an idea they want to get out that you're supporting that, too. 

Scott Rogowsky: I believe, I think Nora might have something she wants to say. I'm seeing, I'm seeing Phoebe dominating this conversation right now. And I think, I think Nora might have, Nora, you have something you want to say? 

Nora Ali: You know, in fact I do, Scott. I have to say that we're going to take another quick break and we'll be right back with Phoebe Robinson.

Scott Rogowsky: Phoebe, so you're now just, it's gone from doing the open mics in 2008 and starting the podcast and like you said, building this mini empire. You’re now a boss, and you've written about the challenges that come with this next phase in your career, where you have people working under you and for you. And that presents its own set of challenges. Explain what it's like to be a boss for someone who, like me, and maybe some people listening, we didn't really climb the corporate ladder necessarily. We don't really have a lot of experience in the corporate world, but now you are in that corporate world in a way. So what's been challenging to you here?

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah, I think one of the biggest challenges is as you know, Hollywood is very hard. There's a lot of rejection and the production company's been around, I think we're entering our third year. And so there's a lot of, you know, you have things in development, of course you want every show to make it and get greenlit. And the reality is you may develop 10 shows and maybe three of those get a pilot order and maybe of the three one gets a series order if you're lucky. And so I think for me in the beginning, if a show didn't get a pilot order, it was somehow my fault. I would just feel so bad and I feel so guilty and I feel defeated and then I felt like I would take that into meetings with my employees. Like I just was noticing like that negative energy was then rubbing off on them and then maybe feeling like even more stressed out about it, too. And then now I think I'm just at a place where I'm like, we're trying our hardest, we're doing our best. We're going to get some yeses, but we're going to get a lot of nos and we have to be okay with that. That's been probably the biggest thing that I've learned since I started this. And then the other thing is just kind of identifying everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. And everyone has like a handful of things that they are killer at. And so just really being able to nurture that within them and make them feel as confident as they can in the workplace. ’Cause it's hard. Like you just forget once you're a boss sometimes like what it was like when you were an employee and you were like stressed and you didn't want to make a mistake and you want to do things perfectly. So I try to make people understand that I'm encouraging them and I want them to do great, but that they don't need to be stressed out about their jobs. 

Nora Ali: On top of navigating being a boss, being a leader, I feel like for new generations of comedians finding success or new generations of anyone, really, in any business finding success, who doesn't come from say generational wealth, you also have to figure out how to navigate money and how to be financially sound and how to make sure that you are sustaining yourself. And you wrote about this in your book as well. You said, this is what happens when your new money, but acting like old money where to paraphrase you say, “Just because I've set my bills to autopay, signed up for Seamless Plus, and have a plethora of Swell water bottles, I'm acting like I'm financially stable enough for Penguin-Random House to serve me papers,” which is so funny. I just, I wonder how your relationship with money has changed as you have become now this business leader. 

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah I mean, I think for, so I would say from 24 to like 33, maybe 34, I was like really broke, like the definition of living paycheck to paycheck. Like literally every single freelancer writing gig I took, like I needed that in order to pay a part of a bill. My mindset was like, I really have to like work as hard as I can so I can get money in so I could sustain myself. So now I'm in a place where I'm feeling stable and I'm feeling steady. And I think when I started this production company, because I worked at like cool website places and fun media companies, I was just like, oh, the office needs to have all these cool perks and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And this and that and the third thing. And then I'd be like, well, those media companies have been around for 20, 30 years. That's why they can afford to have incredible snacks or like, you know, a wellness room where you can go and take a nap or like all that stuff. And it's like, I consider myself a small business, It's me and four other employees. And like, no one is at the company expecting me to have all these baller perks. They just want to have a good environment where they can create. And so for me, I took the pressure off and I'd be like, okay, great. I don't have to do all that stuff, but just to make sure the money that I'm making, I'm putting back into the business so it can sustain itself. And so that really changed a lot for me. And so now I'm at a place where we're going to do like a nice, fancy, like team dinner later this month. And I'm like, okay, that's my way of like, we're being flashy for like a second. And then we'll go back and do normal like office stuff. But it's nice to have those few moments where you can sort of have a little bit fun with money.

Scott Rogowsky: That being said, yeah, what's the most extravagant or foolish purchase you've made since you've become successful. Like, oh, this is stupid. This makes no sense for me to buy, but I want it.

Phoebe Robinson: I have these pair of Gucci shoes that have like these straps across them that have fake like little shiny, like diamonds on them. They're like, not real diamonds. They're kind of like ugly, but I love them so--

Scott Rogowsky: Oh my god.

Nora Ali: We'll have to link to those in the show notes because those are something else.

Scott Rogowsky: Are we, these are four figure sneakers, Phoebe, you're talking to someone who has spent $1,500 on a box of football cards, okay? So you can't beat me in this department, but there's a bit of an investment angle there. Yeah. I mean, are you investing your money in any kind of a, I don't know, art or NFTs or crypto or what are you getting into that and that in that area?

Phoebe Robinson: No, no crypto or NFT. I don't really understand that all the way. And I'm like, every time I try to read an article about it, like I still don't get it. I'm like, but wait, how does this work? And then I'm just like, wait, money isn't really mean anything. Like I just get into a spiral space where I'm just like, so the money that's in my bank account, isn't really real. It's just kind of fake. Like I just go into a rabbit hole where like nothing, nothing’s real. 

Scott Rogowsky: The whole thing is--right. Nothing's real. That's how it works. It's a construct. Exactly. These are just numbers. They're just code. And you can put those numbers into Ethereum or Bitcoin and then a week later it's worth double. That's how it works. I don't understand that either. But--

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah. 

Scott Rogowsky: Phoebe, it's been a pleasure chatting with you about all the things going on and congratulations on it all. It's inspiring to see another comedian, you know, making it, doing it all by your bad self. And what can I say? The books are coming out. There's one out now, September 20th, it came out and there's another one coming out. Is that--there's a third book coming out this fall? 

Phoebe Robinson: From my imprint. So my book is just Please Don’t Sit on My Bed and then next year I have a couple of books from other authors on my imprint, but I'm done writing a book for awhile.

Scott Rogowsky: Yeah, you're done? Can you quickly just give a shout out to these other authors that you've discovered and you're going to be publishing?

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah, so February 1st is a coming of age story called What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris. And then in April is a art heist book called Portrait of a Thief by Grace D. Lee. So I'm really excited. They're going to be great. 

Scott Rogowsky: These are first-time authors, right?

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah. They're both first time authors, which is really cool. And then we have a biography about Marsha P Johnson that's going to be coming out. So we're really just trying to like run the gamut and just tell these really cool, cool stories. Yeah.

Scott Rogowsky: Well, if you ever want to do the oral history of Business, Casual, Nora and I can set you up with that. We’re available and cheap. 

Phoebe Robinson: Yeah, I love it. 

Scott Rogowsky: Phoebe Robinson, pleasure talking with you. 

Phoebe Robinson: Thank you so much.

Nora Ali: And now, Business Casual listeners, we want to hear from you. Has Phoebe's work had an impact on you? How do you approach the complex topics that she focuses on in her work? How do you understand the intersection between business and Comedy? Send us an email at businesscasual@morningbrew.cm or DM us on Twitter @bizcasualpod. That's B I Z Casual Pod, with your story.

Scott Rogowsky: You can also leave a voice memo on our website, businesscasual.fm, or give us a ring and leave an old fashioned voicemail. Our number is 862-295-1135,  that's 8 6 2 2 9 5 11 35. As Business Casual grows, we're excited to get to know our listeners old and new. Drop us a line and don't forget to leave your name so we can address you by your proper name and where you're calling or writing from so we know where you live. And so we can hear from you in a future episode. Business Casual is produced by Katherine Milsop and Bella Hutchins, additional production sound design, and mixing by Daniel Markus. Alan Haburchak is the Director of Audio at Morning Brew. Sarah Singer is our VP of Cultimedia and Jessica Cohen is our Chief Content Officer boss. Music in this episode from Daniel Markus and The Mysterious Breakmaster Cylinder. If you liked what you heard, please fall biz cash on Spot, Apple Pods, or wherever you go for ear can. And we'd love if you would give us a great rate and or rev-you. 

Nora Ali: A great reeve, I think is how we abbreve it. A great reeve, please! Thanks for listening to Business Casual. I'm Nora Ali. 

Scott Rogowsky: And I'm Scott Rogowsky.

Nora Ali: Keep it biz. 

Scott Rogowsky: And keep it cas.