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"Politicians don't turn me on, politics doesn't turn me on, the way music does." — Bono

Fan to Fan: In Conversation with Phoebe Robinson



Robinson's New Book, Available Oct. 16


Phoebe Robinson is an acclaimed stand-up comedian, writer and actress who also happens to be a huge U2 fan. As she prepares to publish Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, she spoke to Tassoula via email about the new book, her U2 fandom journey and what it’s like when Bono sends you flowers.

TK: Fans of your podcast, 2 Dope Queens, know that you’re a true, die-hard U2 fan. When did you first start listening to the band? What was the song or album that made you love them?

PR: I started listening to them in my early teens. Like 13 or 14, I believe. And when you're that age, if you like something, it just sorta sticks with you forever. That includes the cheesy stuff as well as the amazing. And thankfully, U2 is the latter. I think the first song I heard of theirs on the radio was "Pride (In The Name Of Love)" and I was like, "What. Is. This?" You know when you have a really good piece of cake and you're like, "Da fuq," but in a good way? That was how I was with U2. I was hooked and knew I had to listen to everything they've recorded. 

TK: The fandom goes both ways. Last year, Bono sent you flowers. What was that experience like? Did you save any of the flowers/dry them for your archive?

PR: I mean, Bon Bon (that's what I call him and he has approved of the nickname) sending me flowers is truly like LOL, is this real life?! Honestly, s— like that doesn't happen too often. Your heroes often don't know who you are, let alone send you pressies. I was fully in shock when my manager texted me and sent me a pic of the flowers (he sent them to her office for me). I actually thought she was pranking me and when she reassured me that this is not a J/K sitch, I cried. Not Claire Danes ugly cry, but like Meghan Markle eleganza when she knows the cameras are on her. Meaning, I kept it cute. I tried to dry them for my archives, but I messed them up, so I had to toss them, but the memory is forever burned in my heart.  

TK: If you could only take one U2 album to a desert island, which would you choose?

PR: Oh, damn! Coming in hot with the tough Qs! Hmmm, I guess The Joshua Tree deluxe edish because I like a lot of their B-sides like "Heartland" and "Spanish Eyes." Oh man, I could mess with "Spanish Eyes" e'ery day. What a sexy song.

TK: What’s your favorite U2 song of all time? Favorite deep cut/B-side?

PR: !!!!!!!!!!!! So hard! Depends on the day, boo boos. At this moment in time, fav song of all-time is “Where The Streets Have No Name." OR! Or "Sunday Bloody Sunday." Damn, that intro with Larry just dropping the beat is so lit. SOOOOOO lit. Fav deep cut/b-side is a tie between "Stay (Faraway, So Close!)" which is heartbreakingly beautiful and "Lemon" which is just so kooky and different. Wish I could have gone to the Zooropa tour. I really looooooove that album. So underrated and I don't think they'll probably ever revisit those songs live.

OK, one more, I know I'm cheating, but I love "Salome (Zooromancer Mix)." LOVE IT!  

TK: You have a time machine that will take you to any previous U2 concert in history. Which show do you attend and why?

PR: Hands down ZooTV. Not only is Achtung Baby their best album (besides Joshua Tree, obvs), but I've seen clips on YouTube and like what they were doing in terms of concert presentation, the technology with the multiple TV screens, prank calling the White House, etc. … It was truly subversive and political and fun and edgy. They and their team have really been at the forefront of the concert experience and it would have been cool to see them in their prime doing stuff that's never been seen before. Plus, Bon Bon would sometimes bring someone on stage during "Mysterious Ways" and dance with them in such a cute and respectful way. A gal can dream ...

TK: You mentioned on the U2 Talkin’ To Me podcast that you’re hoping to go to Africa with the ONE Campaign/(RED) next year. Tell us about your participation with those organizations and how we can all get involved. 

PR: OMG, (RED) and ONE are truly so dope and awesome. I've been working with them for about a year now, so a lot of it is social media content, attending cocktail events or hosting salons to get young people involved. On my upcoming book tour for Everything's Trash, But It's Okay, I'm collaborating with (RED) to sell limited-edition pins in which all the proceeds go to them as well as doing an info table with ONE where people can sign up to join their #PovertyIsSexist campaign (which highlights the fact that the extreme poverty rate worldwide would go down if the 130 million girls who aren't in school were allowed to be in school) and contact politicians. Like I said, these are amazing organizations and so many young people want to be involved and shape the world for better, they just sometimes need access and knowledge that there are places that align with issues they care about. You can simply start with a tweet about them and then do what I did, which was find out who these people are and just metaphorically knock on the door and be like, "I want to help." 

TK: Any chance of Bono (or any member of U2) joining you for an episode of your other podcast, Sooo Many White Guys?

PR: OMG! I wish. Sooo Many White Guys is on hiatus for a bit, but I'm sure that someway, somehow, I'll get to interview the fellas. #SpeakingItIntoExistence 

TK: My favorite Instagram story of all time is the one where you purchased a Joshua Tree 2017 (VIP gift) harmonica on eBay and played “With Or Without You” for your boyfriend over Skype. Seriously, I’m still laughing. Any chance of the harmonica making it into your upcoming podcasts or stand-up shows?

PR: Hahaha. Thank you! Truly one of the best U2 purchases. I didn't even know the VIP gift book was going to come with a harmons, but when I found out, I died laughing. I have no musical talent, so to just dork it up terribly and play it is my zone. I might bust it out on the book tour. 

TK: Your first book, You Can't Touch My Hair: And Other Things I Still Have to Explain, featured a chapter about U2. Care to share any spoilers (or at least hints) about the U2 content in your new book, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay?

PR: Sure! In the new book, I talk about the first two times I met Bono (first at Bonnaroo and the next at a concert in Cleveland). It's a pretty fun essay and I think people are really going to like and just be like, "Yeah, Bono is a cool dude and so nice to his fans." 

TK: Where can folks go to pre-order your book and get tickets for your upcoming tour?

PR: Thanks for asking, boo boo! If you go to phoeberobinson.com/tour, you can get a ticket to see me live and each ticket comes with a copy of the book. I'm only visiting 12 cities, so for everyone else, you can go to this link and preorder the book that way. #NYTBestsellersListOrBust

TK: In closing, what’s one thing you want your fans to know about you that they may not know?

PR: Hmm, gosh. I feel like I'm an open book in many ways. This is not that crazy, but like no matter how much I work out, walking up more than two flights of stairs, my legs are on fire. And I'm fully doing leg exercises so they should be stronger, but good lord, I am a mess at 34. And I'm like fully ready to just sit down on the steps and go, "I live here now." Maybe I just need a personal trainer? Lol.


(c) atu2/Kokkoris, 2018.

Follow Robinson on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Her new book, Everything’s Trash, But It’s Okay, will publish Oct. 16.