By Allie Waxman and Olivia Armstrong

Behind the Scenes With 2 Dope Queens

Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams prepared for their back-to-back shows in a setting fit for royalty.


The regal Kings Theater in Brooklyn has been a borough icon since 1929. After undergoing a $95-million restoration in 2010, the French Renaissance-inspired venue, an ornate outlier in a neighborhood of co-ops and pizza shops, has played host to concerts, screenings and notable stand-up acts. One such act: 2 Dope Queens, comprised of Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams, who took the stage in October for a three-night residency to turn their hit podcast into four HBO specials. While the comedic pair is used to performing stand-up in front of a live audience, tackling four shows in 72 hours is no small feat.

Here’s how they got it done.

Craft services thought of everything.

Beneath the stage in the theater’s green rooms, crew members and stand-up guests fortified themselves backstage with a full breakfast buffet, including tacos, Goldfish, candy and coolers of chilled rosé.

The pre-show music was on point.

While Phoebe and Jessica sat in hair and makeup, and director Tig Notaro prepped her shots, Beyoncé’s “7/11” and Missy Elliott’s “Get Ur Freak On” boomed through the loudspeakers backstage and in the lobby, making a rainy Tuesday evening feel like a Friday night out.

Queens have to look and feel like queens.

Racks of clothes and scores of wigs and jewelry — the wardrobe room at the Kings Theater was something to behold. The duo is notorious for changing up their looks every time they tape before a live audience. They’ve done so in the past at Brooklyn’s Bell House and a cross-borough relocation didn’t get in the way of their routine.

The comedy community bent the knee.

Stand-up’s favorite photographer Mindy Tucker (the eye behind all the photos seen here) caught candid shots of the queens’ guests before their sets, including Kevin Bartnett and John Early.

Early believes Phoebe and Jessica “hit some nerve … and make people feel warm in a time that’s truly terrifying.” Said Barnett: “The 2 Dope Queens are dope because they’re pushing black girl-power forward.”

Catch a new 2 Dope Queens special every Friday night in February at 11:30 pm.

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