Feature image of Syd Colson & TP of the Syd + Tp Show via Togethxr
It started out as a joke. The Syd + TP Show, a sketch comedy which will air its season finale Monday on the Maximum Effort Channel and is available for streaming on Fubo, has a simple premise: Syd Colson and Theresa Plaisance (TP), both career bench warmers in the WNBA, are setting out to become “The Faces of the League.”
When I say “bench warmer,” I don’t take it lightly. Statistically speaking, the WNBA is one of the most exclusive professional sports leagues in the world. The talent pool of women basketball players, even at an elite level, outpaces the size of the league by almost every measure. Nearly half of the first round draft picks often don’t make it out of training camp and onto final rosters.
That’s a heavily talked about topic among fans, how to better grow the league to support player talent, and one that’s handled with surprisingly serious heart in this season of Syd + TP when it turns out that TP was unexpectedly cut from her team this year. Syd Colson and TP have a combined 20 years of WNBA experience. Both are previous WNBA champions. To stay in this league for this long, including contributing from the bench: that’s no laughing matter, it takes hard work and grit.
And yet, laugh Syd and TP do. Syd in particular has built a beloved fanbase across her TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter with her quick wit, memes, and gay jokes a plenty. She saw a kindred spirit (someone to always laugh at her fart jokes) in TP when both played for the Las Vegas Aces in 2022. She knew right away that fire chemistry needed to be caught like lightning in a bottle, and so The Syd + TP Show was born. The quest to become “the faces of the league” is a light framework that takes them everywhere from interviewing WNBA G.O.A.T. Sheryl Swoops, to a gay bar to pick up girls with queer heartthrob E.R. Fightmaster, even running their own basketball clinic for kids!
Directed by the incredibly talented and longtime Autostraddle favorite Carly Usdin — The Syd + TP Show makes excellent use of Syd and TP’s natural timing. Following a loose script that leaves plenty of room for improv, Syd + TP is funny in the same way as when your friends told you “get in loser, we’re going shopping,” so you hopped in the car, but you don’t quite know where we’re going or what will happen. Still the next thing you know, you’re the kind of giddy where your laughter is coming out more like wheezes and even the smallest thing (someone pronounces a word a certain way, you all see the same sign) has you doubled over. Because what always matters in those moments is who you’re with, that’s how the memories are made. That’s the The Syd + TP Show. (I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet it would go great with an edible, just saying if that’s your thing.)
And so yes, it started out as a joke. Syd Colson and TP — not Candace Parker, Breanna Stewart, A’ja Wilson, Sue Bird, iconic WNBA players with national commercials, sponsorships, and shoe exclusives — they were going to be the next faces of the league.
Then last month, the Las Vegas Aces were staring down the barrel of their back-to-back championship, a feat that had not been pulled off in the league in over 20 years. They were up 2-1 in the finals series against the New York Liberty. If they could pull off one more win, they’d be written into history. And then between games three and four, two of the five Las Vegas Aces starters were injured (another first in league history). The mood sombered. Coach Becky Hammon said she wasn’t worried, she knew who was in her locker room. WNBA teams don’t have deep benches, and suddenly it felt like the whole world was watching Syd Colson.
— drble (@drbleHQ) October 19, 2023
Syd, a previous national college champ with Texas A&M, in addition to her previous ring with the Aces, knew what she had to do. The Aces were down by 10 when Coach Hammon called her to the floor. Syd gets the ball on a pass from Jackie Young, pump fakes Sabrina Ionescu, then runs right past her into the lane as if it was made for her and floats in the basket. The crowd goes wild (the crowd was me, at home, I went wild). For every minute she played, Syd’s defense smothered Ionescu. On offense, a behind the back pass from Syd to Alicia Clarke makes every highlight reel.
The next morning Sydney Colson woke up a back-to-back champ. And do you know who every basketball fan was talking about?
The face of the league.
After her celebration tour wrapped (including a sit down on The Daily Show for Syd and a segment on the Tamron Hall Show with special guest lesbian legend Robin Roberts for Syd and TP both), I was lucky enough to get a few minutes with Syd and TP to talk about their primed-to-be cult classic sketch show. I was not prepared to laugh this much.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Carmen: Sorry, just to slightly geek out for a second, it’s really just… I’m a HUGE Aces fan … I’m actually a new WNBA fan, which is going to be part of the interview, but I’ve been on the road for both of the championships and feeling really proud and excited for you guys.
TP: You joined at a good time!
Carmen: I won’t lie, I really picked a great moment. In Autostraddle’s office, we decided to build a WNBA Fantasy League after BG got detained last year, and just got really serious about being like, “We should be putting our money where our mouth is and actively supporting the league.”
We have two or three people on our team who are women’s sports fanatics and they were like, “We will teach the rest of y’all how to do this, join this league, it’ll be fun. Do whatever.” And I got really into it. The first year in the fantasy league I finished almost in last place, but this year I came in third.
TP: Oh nice.
Syd: Look at you. Come on progress.
Carmen: My growth was very real!
Syd: It was!
Carmen: So I picked a good time. Okay. But I can use that to pivot! Syd, TP, what’s really great is your show is… first of all, hilarious.
Syd: Thank you.
Carmen: It makes our team laugh weekly! But the premise of it, for our readers who are going to be catching on, is that both of you want to learn how to be the face of the league, right?
You both have had very long WNBA careers. A lot of times, not necessarily.. in any way that is… I don’t mean anything by this… but you’re not necessarily getting a lot of starter time, right? You spend a lot of time sitting on the bench, but —
Syd: How rude Carmen.
TP: What? I didn’t see my career going that way.
Carmen: Okay! I’ve never done a sports interview before. I don’t know the protocols of —
Syd: We’re kidding.
TP: We have a TV show about self-proclaimed bench warmers.
Carmen: Yeah, but I didn’t want to be the one to say it! It’s all a kind of thing like, “You can say it, but I can’t say it.”
Syd: No, we literally do not care.
Carmen: What does it mean to both of you to be the face of the league? Let’s start there. You were like, “I’m going to make the show. We’re going to become the face of the league.” What does it mean to be the face of the league?
Syd: For us, it’s just really funny because our director for the show had to come up with an idea.
Carly had to figure out a way to put all these ideas we had for things that we wanted to do on the show and make all of those parodies or sketches, or whatever we wanted to do, make it make sense and for there to be an overarching goal. Give it a frame.
And so, Carly, they were like, “What about … ” This is how the conversation went with Togethxr, apparently, and Carly, before we were even in on it. It was just what about if we have them try to become the faces of the league and they’re two bench warmers? That could be hilarious.
And then we move the episodes in a direction of either they’re working toward it and they’re doing well or they hit some bumps in the roads, yada yada yada. And so, for us, when Carly got on the first call with us and had to pitch to us this idea, we laughed immediately. We were like, “This is hilarious and this is right up our alley.”
TP: And like you, they were also very delicate in coming out about what that was. They were like, “I think the world of you guys.” They’re also a big W fan for years and years and years. Loves sports, loves women’s sports.
So they pitched us, they said, “We think the world of you guys, we think y’all are great basketball players, so please don’t think anything of it.” And then when they said, “Y’all are going to be the faces of the league, self-proclaimed.” We thought it was great. We were like, “We couldn’t have planned this out better ourselves.”
Carmen: What I loved about this is that in one of your more recent episodes, you were like, “We’re going to manifest it.” But it really did become manifestation! By the end of the WNBA season we weren’t just making the joke on our website or in our group chat. We were like, “Everyone’s talking about lesbian legend, Syd Colson. Syd Colson’s the face of the league.”
I think that that’s been really amazing. So I wondered… were you, as you’re building this little sketch show, were you like, “You know what’s going to be great? In the end, this is exactly what’s going to happen. The morning after the championship, you know who everyone’s going to be talking about? Syd Colson.”
TP: The face of the league.
Carmen: The face of the league!
Syd: In the most modest way or the most humble way, and not just about myself but about us, I knew last season that TP was hilarious. Once I became teammates with her, I [originally] only knew her in passing or through other people or about her. We had never had a real conversation. Once I met her and just got to know her for real, once I could tell how funny she was and how talented I felt like she was, I was like… it’s funny, once Carly pitched the premise, but I was like, “it’s going to be funny because we are actually funny people.”
I don’t know, neither one of us have ever met a stranger, a lot of people just gravitate toward our energy. And so I thought the combination of us having a fan base in the WNBA already, especially people from Las Vegas who saw us on social media, their social media platform, because Chris, our social media guy, is just outstanding.
Syd: He helped me in 2019 get my social media bigger. He propelled so much for me. But the joke was that I saw it forming. [I knew] that we would be talked about because the show is going to be good. Our writer, Sheeds, is wonderful. Our producers Kwani —
TP: Top notch.
Syd: …Renie, Kayla, Togethxr, who was the one who even got this stuff rolling with me. There were so many people, our agent, Gina, that saw the vision and we all were like, “It’s going to actually come to fruition. People are going to laugh at the log line.” But yeah, I think for me I was like, “Yeah, this —”
Carmen: This is a hit.
TP: And it all happened so quickly!
Syd: We shot 10 episodes in 12 days. We did a week before training camp this past season, and then during the All Star break in Vegas.
Carmen: That also speaks to the quality of your natural chemistry, right? Watching it, I thought y’all spent the whole off season doing this. I was like, “Oh, they’ve been working on this.” I just watched the most recent episode where you guys get to interview Sheryl Swoops.
I was falling off the couch. It is so good!! And I think part of that is watching you, obviously you guys already feed off each other well, but watching you feed off of each other and then also be in front of a great and go: “So, I want to be the face of the league.”
She’s like, “Of what?” And TP goes, “The W.”
It killed. It’s so good. And then later when, and Sheryl lists her accomplishments and gets to “four-time, back to back to back to back champion of the Houston Rockets,” and Syd’s like, “I’m from Houston.”
Not to quote you guys back to you guys, but for our readers.
TP: We love it.
Carmen: Part of what I’ve really been drawn to about your show is what also brought me to the W to begin with. There are so many personalities. I think that’s what The Syd + TP Show does well.
What’s great about the W is the basketball’s amazing. But also around the sport, y’all have such big personalities on and off the court. You’re really warm people and the league feels like that throughout. You guys bring that energy all the time. And I think the show does a good job of representing that.
Syd: Thank you.
Carmen: I wondered if that was part of what you were hoping for. What is the hope? Were you like, “I’m hoping to bring more people into the W. I’m hoping to … ” I know Syd has joked about wanting to get on Insecure before. “I’m hoping to springboard this into something.”
Syd: No, yeah, that wasn’t a joke. I dead ass wanted to be on Insecure.
TP: She wasn’t joking.
Carmen: That’s not a joke at all. Dead serious. Issa, you have to call Syd. That’s not a —
Syd: Dead serious.
Carmen: It could work! I think that you should be on the next Issa Rae project. I could see you on Rap Sh!t. I can see this for you.
Syd: Well, I got to meet her after game four [of the 2023 WNBA finals] in New York. I caught a side profile and I thought it was Issa but then she had turned. I’m like, “Is this Issa?”
And I don’t get excited about celebrities! I’m just that kind of person. I’m like, “We all just people. I don’t care.” But I respect and admire her so much because of how she went about her business. And that she started on Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl and did it with her friends and brought people up with her. I respect people who do stuff like that. They don’t just go aim for the biggest stars. They bring their friends who are talented and want to work and have ambition. And so for me, I was like, “I’ve got to get a picture with her.”
Carmen: Okay, but did you shoot your shot? Were you like, “Issa, I’m really funny. Have you seen my TikTok?”
Syd: No, no, no. I told her what I just told you. I told her that I admire her and I watched her for a long time. And I was —
Carmen: Well, I’m going to say, it in case one day this interview ever gets read by her people, that you’re hilarious online and on TikTok and maybe Issa should hit you up. Just throwing that out there.
Syd: Thank you, Carmen.
Carmen: No problem. This is, I think in basketball they call that an assist.
TP: Not you dropping lingo!
Carmen: Listen, you don’t move from number eight to number three in the fantasy league by faking it!
TP: All right. You did your homework.
Syd: Not playing with us.
Syd: She said Big Carmen, not the Little One.
Carmen: Not the Little One!! That’s what I’m talking about.
— Sydney Colson (@SydJColson) October 19, 2023
Carmen: I think this is actually a great pivot to something else that I wanted to hit up, which is this: a lot of our readers… We have some readers that are really hardcore, they love sports. And we have other readers where, I won’t lie, we kind of baited the lesbian audience. We were like, “Here are, 35 WNBA players you could be thirsting after on Instagram. And while you’re reading that, by the way, we’re going to start doing a weekly column and start building the conversation because the league is amazing and you should all be paying attention.”
If you were to try and sell someone who maybe is gay and really enjoys watching, I don’t know, hot women sweat on each other… but hadn’t built their way into sports yet, what would you say?
Syd: For queers.
Syd: I think that… Did you have something you were about to say?
TP: Yeah. Grab a power tool.
Carmen: Grab a power tool??
TP: Grab a power tool. Grab any kind of ball sport, take a picture, see how you feel about it. If it’s your vibe, drop that power tool. Stick to sports. Do your heritage justice.
That’s right. Embrace what’s ours. Women’s sport, power tools.
Syd: It belongs to us.
TP: It’s ours. We don’t embrace it enough.
Syd: We don’t. But yeah, I think I would do something along those lines. It’s like on, not even a funny note it’s like, yeah… come and support people who are like you, you relate to them in some way. You all have something. Just the way, Issa Rae, “I’m rooting for everybody black.”
You have this connection with people from afar that even though you don’t necessarily know them, you might know something about their plight or about a struggle they’ve gone through or just what it’s like to be in their shoes a little bit, from one vantage point. And so, I don’t know, I think it would just be cool to have a way to have an in with the sport through this connection that we share.
And I think it helps, too, that you get to know some people off the court. You start seeing some people’s personalities, or like what we’re doing [on the show]. Or if you see somebody who models, or you see somebody who, I don’t know, is pursuing something else because so many of us in the W are so multifaceted and we’re multi-hyphenates.
So, if you see them elsewhere and you know that they play, it’s a perfect opportunity to be like, “All right, let me go check this person out in real life.”
TP: That sounds great, yeah.
Syd: And then when you get to a WNBA game, a lot of the time, especially depending on the city, people love it so much that they want to come back. You’re like, “Dang, I did not know that end game experience would be like that.” Then you’re drawn in, and hopefully that’s how we keep building.
Carmen: I love that. And I think that’s the thing, right? Once you start watching it, you’re like, “Oh, I did not know the game would be this exciting.” In the Autostraddle office it became infectious. It was the finals this year, and we were leaving work early to watch. We were like, “All right, we are done. It is time we wrapped here.”
Oh, here’s a better pitch for it. Come to a W game… There are always a lot of gay people, there are always a lot of people in the stands. You can meet your man, your woman, your nonbinary person, come to a WNBA game. It could be the love of your life. The love of your life is sitting next to you.
TP: You can meet your stud.
Carmen: They could be sitting next to you, or they could be on the court. Some of us have a goal of being a WNBA Wife.
TP: Your stud muffin.
Carmen: Some of us are aspirational, okay?
TP: You got to manifest it. Show up to a WNBA game. Manifest it.
Syd: Manifest. Yeah. You can have your life good. Come to a W game. Do your, what’s it called?
Syd: Sage the room. Sage the arena.
TP: Find the stud muffin of your dreams.
Carmen: Listen, you guys manifested being the face of the league. So I can manifest being a WNBA wife.
Syd: You absolutely can.
The Syd + TP Show will air its season finale this Monday on the Maximum Effort Channel and is available for streaming on Fubo.