Comedian and actress Michelle Buteau hosts “Late Night Whenever," the WNYC studios podcast, and is known by some as the unofficial “third dope queen” on Phoebe Robinson’s and Jessica Williams’s “2 Dope Queens” podcast. Buteau will star alongside Jill Scott in “First Wives Club,” a forthcoming Paramount Network 10-episode dramedy based on the 1996 film by the same name. She’s also appeared on Adult Swim’s “The Eric Andre Show,” Fox’s “Enlisted” and Comedy Central’s “Key & Peele.” Buteau will be performing with Jordan Carlos Friday, Oct. 26, at this year’s Bentzen Ball comedy fest in Washington D.C.

The Lily chatted with Bentzen Ball comedians via text and phone calls ahead of the festival, which runs Oct. 25-28.

September 6, 2018, 6:31 p.m.

Nneka McGuire

Hi, Michelle. This is Nneka McGuire from The Lily. Thanks for agreeing to talk with us. Well, text.

Michelle Buteau

Yeah of course! Are we talking on the phone or just texting?

Nneka McGuire

Just texting. We’re trying something different. Have you ever had a text-only interview before?

Michelle Buteau

Oh! Ha! I have not!

Michelle Buteau

I feel like a millennial

Nneka McGuire

It’s my first time, too. We’re in the same millennial boat.

Michelle Buteau

Gah! Funsies.

Nneka McGuire

So you just wrapped up your first season of Late Night Whenever in July. What are some of the most significant lessons you've learned from having your own podcast?

Michelle Buteau

Oh man. Go big or go home. If someone asks you what you want to do, don’t follow it up with, well, what do you need? Be clear on what you want to say, what kind of fun you’d like to have, how you’re portraying yourself, because it’s out there forever. Also, speak the f--- up. People aren’t a mind reader. Just because execs know you’re talented, it doesn’t mean they know what you want.

Treat every show you’re producing like you’re a bridezilla.

yes huney yes

Nneka McGuire

Those are some profound insights — and they can apply in so many contexts.

Anything you’d like to do differently, or experiment with, next season?

Michelle Buteau

Yes, totally.

To be honest?


It’s rare to be like, I got it good right out the gate?

But I’m super proud of Late Night Whenever

It’s a culmination of a bunch of shows I’ve hosted, cohosted, failed pilots

So, I think the only thing to do differently for next season is

more audience!

longer episodes!

or ... let’s get it on TV!

Nneka McGuire

Ah, 2 Dope Queens style.

You are the third queen so it’s only appropriate.

Michelle Buteau

haha we’re all royalty

Nneka McGuire

In this moment there are so many emoji I want to trot out but for work purposes I can only use this one.

So and we’ll use our imaginations.

Michelle Buteau

Yes, but not a special, even though that is special, but to be a fixture in the late night landscape

Michelle Buteau

hahah that’s a good one

Nneka McGuire

You’ve got a lot on the docket. Like “First Wives Club.” Congrats on being cast as a lead. How are you feeling about it?

Michelle Buteau


I’m in really good company.

And it’s so important now more than ever to showcase women’s stories.

A dramedy is truly the sweet spot

Life has its up and downs

So why not lean into that.

Tracy is so dope at story telling and letting an artist shine.

Also Ryan Michelle & Jill are also 2 Dope Queens

so I’m just like … yes yes yes #strongertogether

Just followed you on Twitter!

Nneka McGuire

Speaking of #strongertogether, you’re participating in Bentzen Ball with a whole host of other women/non-binary headliners. How’d you get involved?

Michelle Buteau

OMG yes!!

Nneka McGuire

And thanks for that follow. I know you can’t hear my tone via text but it’s highly excited.

Michelle Buteau

I’ve known Tig for years in comedy. We run in different circles but made our way back to each other when she directed the first season of 2 Dope Queens! We were like, how come we don’t hang and what not?

She’s such a baller shot caller, I love her and her wife so so much.

So when I got the call to do the festival I was like #duh #jahbless

Yes, I’m saying to the dress …

This is my dress

And here we are!

Nneka McGuire

We at The Lily are beyond looking forward to the fest. Have you crossed paths with the other performers (besides Phoebe Robinson, of course)?

Michelle Buteau

Yes! I just performed at Jonathan Van Ness’s show last night at The Bell House

Jonathan and Friends

It was so lovely

just so so great

So much love in the room

I wish I could be alive 2 or 300 years from now

Where we’re all non-gender binary

Just them they us

No stigma just love

Will that happen?

hahaha sorry it’s been a week

I also know Rhea, Amanda, Sheng, it’s really such a great well curated festival

And of course, doing my monthly show with the homey

Jordan Carlos!

He’s truly the best

the best girlfriend in comedy I could’ve wished for

Every show we donate part of the proceeds to an organization

this month will be Nia Wilson’s family

Last show was The Trevor Project

Comedy is such a self-serving career it’s really important to give back, do some good when you can

perhaps raise awareness all while having fun


My uncle is the Archbishop of Jamaica so I grew up fundraising

Nneka McGuire

Oh wow, I knew your mom is Jamaican but didn’t know that about your uncle.

Michelle Buteau

Yes! Maybe I shouldn’t have said that hahaha I talk about very dirty thangs on stage

Nneka McGuire

I know our time’s technically up, but could I ask you another couple questions? I’ll type as swiftly as my stubby little fingers can

Michelle Buteau


go ahead

Nneka McGuire

Thank you, thank you. In a Gothamist interview, you said that you missed out on performing in high school, like in plays, because you were too shy. These days you’re so open on stage. How did you overcome shyness in adulthood?

Michelle Buteau

Honestly, I think once I went to college and started thinking for myself, and not in a group, things shifted. I had sex. I didn’t have to run it by anyone. Lots of people were expressing themselves and weren’t getting in trouble for doing so (teachers, parents, bosses etc) and I just felt like I always had a voice that I stifled. I also knew the answer in high school but was afraid to raise my hand because I thought I’d sound stupid even when I knew I was right. Working and living in New York City was such a great education for me, because I couldn’t afford to be shy, I had to speak up, otherwise I’d be the last in line for everything. I don’t, I guess life just happened and I had to keep up. I’m so glad it did, because now I can’t shut the f--- up.

Nneka McGuire

Thank you for that honest answer. What you described — so many people can probably identify that.

You bill yourself as the “no-budget Oprah.” Have you met the actual Oprah?

Michelle Buteau

I have not but Black Jesus please come fix that.

She is my everything.

Nneka McGuire

What’s one thing that you love but feel guilty about?

Michelle Buteau

I’m a woman! I feel guilty about feeling guilty! I mean, pasta? Rosé? Terrible reality TV? Road rage? Returning clothes after I wear them? Pick ya poison!

Nneka McGuire

I watch the Bachelor like it’s my religion. I can relate.

Last question (cross my ): If you had to describe yourself in three emoji, what would they be?

Michelle Buteau

Nneka McGuire

Thanks very much for chatting, Michelle. It’s been a pleasure. Have a great evening (hope it includes some guilt-free pasta and a big glass of rosé).

Michelle Buteau

Gah! Thai food and rosé cause it’s summah!


have a great night and see ya at the show!

Nneka McGuire

See you there.

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