Phoebe Robinson: Sorry, Harriet Tubman
- Arusa Qureshi
- 22 August 2019
A frank and magnetic show with someone who strives to be better
As a bestselling author and the creator and co-host of the popular 2 Dope Queens podcast, Phoebe Robinson already has a strong legion of fans, one of whom is Michelle Obama herself. In Sorry, Harriet Tubman, Robinson makes her UK stand-up debut, regaling us with self-deprecating anecdotes from her life, explaining how she strives but generally fails to be a better person, whether it be a better lover, a better activist or even a better black woman.
In the opening monologue, she excitedly recounts her time on the road with Obama for the former First Lady's book tour, relating with pure glee how they bonded over tequila and grilled cheese (despite Robinson's lactose intolerance and the colossal farts that followed which, as she notes, were definitely worth it). There's actually a lot of toilet humour throughout, plus plenty of chat about topics ranging from sexual habits to circumcision, and many many jokes at Robinson's white, British boyfriend's expense. The audience erupts when she decides to unexpectedly FaceTime him during the show, but with this little incidental snippet, we get a stronger glimpse into the pair's relationship and, as a result, are offered more context behind some of her best stories.
While Robinson's laid-back personality and undeniable warmth easily wins the crowd over, Sorry, Harriet Tubman feels very much like a work-in-progress that could benefit from a few revisions and refinements to tidy up some material. These changes, coupled with her fabulously frank delivery and magnetic personality, would be enough to raise the show to the next level.
Assembly George Square Studios, until 25 Aug, 6.45pm, £14–£16.