Phoebe Robinson on How to Make Friends With Fear


On Tuesday, comedian and best-selling author Phoebe Robinson visited our salon to talk about her new book (it’s the best), how she writes (dadrock is a must), and how she cut her own path to success. Read on for true wisdom from a woman we’re proud to call the newest member of the Novella family.

“I’m just gonna be my own North Star.” — Phoebe Robinson


Phoebe Robinson  in conversation with Novella founder  Abby Adesanya .  (Photos:    Erica Westley   )

Phoebe Robinson in conversation with Novella founder Abby Adesanya. (Photos: Erica Westley)

by Leeann DelHoyo Duggan

Success can be a heavy topic — especially in New York, where it feels like everyone half your age is doing twice as much, and you can barely sip your Aperol Spritz before someone busts out the standard, softly judgy icebreaker, "So, what do you do?" (Next you'll be asked exactly how much you pay in rent to the penny, because New Yorkers are busybodies like that.)

Luckily, there are a million paths to success — and our November salon guest Phoebe Robinson has taken most of them. The comedian, podcast queen, HBO star, and best-selling author of "Everything's Trash, But It's Okay" graced our salon with her presence, humor, and much hard-won wisdom on success.

As usual, the whole crew gathered at LIVELY, toasted up with wine from Winc, and broke into small groups to read our original stories, poems, essays, and even a Tweet on the topic of "Success."

Then, Phoebe took the stage in conversation with Novella founder Abby Adesanya. Phoebe touched on how she turned her sense of powerlessness after the 2016 election into the inspiration behind writing her book, and being a better ally: "I have to admit that I don't know everything and I need to be better. Saying 'this is just who I am' without taking action — that's not good enough anymore."

Phoebe also spoke about the motif that connects her writing in every medium, from standup to scripts to books ("Fully-formed women are the through line in my work"), the music she writes to (nothing but divas 'n' dads, from Chaka Khan and Cardi B, to Phil Collins and Mumford and Sons), and her determination to speak from her experience as a woman of color, and trust that people will listen:

"If I can relate to Breaking Bad or Mad Men, you can listen to me and Jessica talk for an hour on 2 Dope Queens. If you don't get it, Google it!"

We stan a dope queen.

We stan a dope queen.

What does success mean to Ms. Robinson today? The ability to shepherd her ideas from conception to fully-realized project, being able to "do stupid things like hop on a plane for 24 hours to see U2 in Dublin," and of course, no more late notices: "I have my bills on autopay for the first time in my life. I'm like ConEd, I got you!"

Finally, Phoebe left us with some wisdom about how rejection led her to even greater success:

"I was applying to so many writing jobs, sending out packets to the late-night shows for years. Nobody wanted to hire me, so I thought, 'Why don't I just bet on myself?' I'm gonna be my own North Star."

"We all have a fear of creating, but you have to make friends with it. Say, okay, we're gonna be buddies and go shopping together. Be scared, and do it anyway."


As always, big thanks to our hosts LIVELY, our partners Winc, the incomparable Phoebe Robinson — whose book "Everything's Trash, But It's Okay" is available everywhere — and you. See you next time!

Leeann DelHoyo Duggan, Editorial Director