March Book of The Month: "Everything's Trash but It's OK"
“In summary: The world is currently one big ‘Previously on Homeland’ recap that plays on repeat,” Phoebe Robinson says on the first page of her book, “nothing but a bunch of dumpster fires and Claire Daines ugly-cries.” I don’t even watch Homeland, but I felt that opening sentence. For those not in the know, Phoebe Robinson is a writer and comedian, best known for being one half of Two Dope Queens, along with Jessica Williams. Two Dope Queens is a podcast hosted by the two comedians that highlights comedians of different backgrounds, whether they’re female, POCs, or LGBTQ. The podcast was picked up for an HBO special and just aired its second season. Robinson has also worked on MTV’s Girl Code and Broad City.
Okay, back to the book. Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay is a series of hilarious and poignant essays written by Phoebe Robinson that aptly represent what life is like for an African-American woman trying to make it in the worlds of comedy, dating, and overall American life. She talks about her terrible Tinder dates, how difficult it is to make it as a woman in comedy, and the times she’s met Bono (she is a U2 fanatic). Her little anecdotes are relatable to anyone who has faced adversity, but she’s able to take those moments and turn them into stories that she can look back on and laugh at.
In a moment in history where many people feel uneasy and afraid of the future, this book is the perfect respite. Phoebe will be talking about something serious, such as the #MeToo movement, but refer to it instead as the “De-Peening of 2017.” Her use of hashtags and “abbrevs” (what she calls “abbreviations”) are both creative and hilarious. As Ilana Glazer says in the forward, “Phoebe’s relationship with language is the absurdity of her comedy,” and mentions that she will receive texts from Phoebe with abbreviations “that have apologies attached to them, so the phrase ends up being ten times longer than if she had just written out the original word. Like ‘eems aka email - #lol #notworthit’ instead of ‘email.”
She does it not to downplay the seriousness of the situation, but instead to show that it’s okay, and actually necessary, to laugh in times of trouble. Her use of language also allows her to get right to the point and directly address the issue at hand; where #metoo beats around the bush, “De-Peening” gets right to the point of what happened to the male celebrities who lost their careers after being exposed. Her outlook on life is bright and optimistic, which you’d think is difficult for someone who has gone through what she has, from dates telling her she should lose a few pounds, to male colleagues making sexist and racist remarks to her. She shows us that even when the glass appears empty, you can act like it’s full and laugh when it falls off the table and shatters.
Whether you’re someone who closely identifies with Phoebe or are a white cis male, I think everyone can learn from Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay. She addresses issues of race, sex, politics, and life head-on in a way that is both apropos and hysterical, and is sure to make any reader laugh and relate to her stories.
Cover image via @goodblackreads