Busy Philipps is … well, busy. She said she considers herself “retired” from acting, but she is still hard at work. In her podcast, “Busy Philipps Is Doing Her Best,” which debuted in August, she chats with friends — who are often celebrities — about how everyone, even during the pandemic, is trying to keep it together.
Philipps, 41, famously turned her social media prowess into “Busy Tonight,” a talk show on E! that premiered in 2018. It was essentially an answer to the question “What if Instagram were a TV show?” James Poniewozik, the chief television critic for The Times, wrote at the time.
Just six months later the network pulled the plug. Now, she said, a podcast lets her have the conversations she wanted to have all along. She teamed up with her creative partner, Caissie St. Onge, and their friend, the comedian and former “Busy Tonight” writer Shantira Jackson to make it happen.
These days, Philipps said, she can’t watch or listen to a show that doesn’t acknowledge the very difficult time that we’re all experiencing. So whether talking about Breonna Taylor or Cardi B, she aims to make room for the complexity of our world as it is. “We have to allow sort of like room for both things because otherwise you get very burned out,” she said.
Philipps, who lives in Los Angeles, tracked her recent routines and the cultural items that help keep her focused during a recent trip to New York. These are edited excerpts from our conversation.
At 6 a.m., I wake up to take our puppy, Gina Linetti, for a walk. (She’s named after the character in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” who my daughter, Birdie, loves.) She’s a golden doodle, and just eight months old. Being in New York (I flew here for work this week) has been hard for her. I am still feeling jet lag, so I lay down after the walk and fall back asleep.
At 10 a.m., I wake up again and make my Bulletproof coffee, something I have to have every morning. I also make sure to drink water and take my vitamins. Health is something I’m super conscious of, as we all are at this time, for so many reasons. In L.A., with all the smoke [from the wildfires] and my allergies, I wasn’t feeling so great, so I’m trying to right the ship. I’m also 41 now, and being a mom of two, I want to stay healthy for them.
At 11 a.m., I get the kids started on virtual school, which has been so difficult for them. My older one started middle school, a new school with new teachers, friends, etc., virtually, and the younger is in elementary school. Schools have really been trying to make it fun and interesting. But it breaks my heart in so many ways, especially for the little kids. It’s just so hard for them to not have social interaction.
But I’m glad that now, while I’m working, they can come with me and still do school, as opposed to what my life used to be like — anytime I had work outside of Los Angeles, I would have to leave to go back and forth. And I felt a lot of guilt.
I’m also listening to edits for an upcoming episode of my podcast. Caissie, Shantira and I like to hear all the edits, especially since a weekly podcast calls for such tight turnaround times. It’s so different from doing “Busy Tonight,” where I used to have to get the rundown of the news every day and you could never go more than five minutes deep in a segment. I’m thankful for more time in this format.
Later, I squeeze in a workout. Working out every day is something that really helps me focus and helps me be able to do all the things that I need to do in a day. I keep a variety of workouts in my pocket, but I keep coming back to LEKFit — it’s one of my favorites.
I interview the actress Arden Myrin for an upcoming episode of the podcast. I like to be sure that people feel like they get across what they are hoping to get across.
I’ve been on the other side a lot of times, when people don’t know who you are, or don’t care — I really do care, that’s why I do this! With Arden, we all took a look at her new book. But on the episode, I mess up: I kept pronouncing her last name incorrectly, which is something she even addressed in her book. I guess I was just, like, in my own head about it. We’ve been around each other for years in Los Angeles as actors and we have so many mutual friends and truly, I didn’t know how to pronounce her last name. And I did not. I just kept mispronouncing it. I don’t know if we’ll edit that out. I bet we’ll probably leave it in because I really am doing my best. But it wasn’t right.
I also have to pick up Gina from doggie day care and head to the health food store — it’s right by the day care and I need a few things. I pick up a few snacks for the girls while I’m there too.
Later, I record an interview with Tomberlin about her EP and the music video I directed for her [“Wasted”]. I was a huge fan of her music before we became friends, and it’s a really tough time, especially for independent musicians, so we wanted to do something to celebrate her EP. With the help of my husband, Marc, we shot the video on my iPhone and it turned out really great. The reaction to it has also been really lovely and kind of exactly what we were hoping for.
I finished my day attending a P.T.A. meeting over Zoom. When my older daughter got accepted to her new school in June I thought, “Well, I’m not going to wait until September” to get involved because I don’t even know what that’s going to look like. So I just inserted myself, and we were even able to do a socially distanced meetup at a park.
By midnight it’s time for bed — I like ending the day with a treat, and tonight I have some Tate’s gluten-free cookies. I try to stay gluten-free as much as possible. I’m from L.A., what do you expect?
I wake up and make coffee. I use this time to work out and shower. Afterward, I answer some work emails and post on Instagram. I don’t really have a routine with social media — I like to post whenever I want, unless it’s a branded post. Those usually have blocks around when to post and how long after I can post something. But I don’t mind doing that — I only support products that I really do use and like, so I do my research.
I hop on another Zoom call for work. (I treat myself to Hot Tamales while on the call.)
Now for some fun! I get to interview Tina Fey for the podcast. Fey has been a friend for years, and executive produced “Busy Tonight,” so I’ve interviewed her before. One thing that’s always interesting to me is just how reserved she tends to be. Anything she does is funny, obviously; she is brilliant. But she does tend to be like a lot quieter than I would have imagined before I met her.
We order Rubirosa for dinner. I had a vodka pizza with pepperoni, Caesar salad and an Aperol Spritz to go.
I watched Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” before bed. It’s just me and Birdie, but I’m embarrassed that I’m bawling. Greta is a friend, and I can’t believe I’m so behind in seeing this. I make a mental note to text her tomorrow and send her videos of me bawling, since she’s not on social media.