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Betty Confidential interviews Jessica Chaffin & Jamie Denbo

Mar 25, 2015

The comedic duo dishes on Gina and Beth, Boston, boys, and what you'll catch them in next.

Funny ladies Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo have been stealing shows and tickling funny bones for a very long time. And now, they're taking on Hollywood. The comedic duo, perhaps best known for their live chat show, Ronna & Beverly, held their own as loudmouthed Boston natives next to stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy in The Heat. We chatted with Chaffin and Denbo about on-set antics, their relationship with Boston, a (possible!) sequel to The Heat, and whether or not they've taken any fashion cues from their characters.

BettyConfidential: What was it like on set of The Heat?

Jamie Denbo: A lot of crying, a lot of sexual assault- there was a lot of on-set drama. It was awesome. I think when you keep that level of fun and comedy on the screen it's definitely representative of what's going on behind the scenes. We were laughing. Laughing, laughing, laughing. We sat at that dinner table for upwards of five hours. It was just funny. Jessica's hair was - every time I looked at her - it was funny. It was fun to be a part of.

Jessica Chaffin: Not to mention your denim bathing suit. This was an interesting combination. We got to work with some really old friends and old collaborators. Nate Corddry is an old friend of ours, Rob Corddry, his brother, is someone that we came up with doing improv. We've known Nate forever. Jamie wrote these MA Men videos a few years ago that Nate was in with us. It wasn't the first time we've worked together and that was amazing.

JD: It was honestly like being on set with family.

JC: Yeah, and Paul we've been collaborating with for years so it was basically the most fun you could have and on top of that it was really a childhood dream come true to come home and shoot a movie in Boston, and be staying at a hotel and have the Boston Herald write about it, which is still like the town paper.

JD: Our friends from home thought we were stuck up!

JC: And we took a haunted tour.

JD: Oh yeah, we did. Ghosts and Graveyards.

JCGhosts and Gravestones!

BC: Can you tell us more about your relationship with Boston?

JD: It's a complicated relationship.

JC: Well I was talking to some people last night, I went to see a play last night and-

JD: Oh, aren't we smaht? Oh, aren't we er-ee-udite?

JC: Well, I'm like the cultured one, that's the thing. They asked me, "Where are you from?" And I was saying, I'm always a Bostonian first. I've lived in LA for eleven years and I'm always like "I'm from Boston" if people ask and then it's like 'well, this is the rest of the trajectory of my life' but Jamie and I hilariously live in LA, have both of lived there 11, 12 years- I can't remember even now what it is- but we arrived at the same time and we spend a majority of our time living in a reality that takes place in Boston. Either we're Ronna and Beverly or if we're doing scummy Boston like Gina and Beth or the Real Housewives of South Boston or whatever it is- We live in California but we basically live in our minds in Boston.

BC: You both had some crazy outfits on The Heat - did you ever dress like that?

JC: Did you say, did we ever dress like our characters?

BC: Yes.

JC: That's the greatest question I've ever been asked.

JD: Are you saying like when we were young?

JC: Neither of us had a Boston accent growing up. We really aren't any of the characters that we play, though we talk to each other in a Boston accent all the time.

JD: I'd like to answer that question and say, before now? No. Now, quite a bit. As Gina and Beth, I love to wear denim bathing suits to my kids' school drop off. Nothing makes me more popular.

BC: Who were you parodying in your roles?

JC: For Gina, my cousin had this girlfriend when we were growing up and my cousin grew up in this pretty working class, blue collar neighborhood, and she just believed that she was the prettiest girl in the room at all times and her attitude was completely just "What? Why wouldn't everyone want me?" She was okay, she was pretty, but like the idea that she was the most attractive person in the world- I always thought it was so funny. Her confidence, which you have to admire, I think that that was what I decided to go with. So long as I was going to be a hooch basically I was like, I guess I'm just going to decide that I was going to look amazing all of the time. And I would never, ever share that much of my body in a regular setting but it seems like, well if we're gonna do this, let's go with it.

JD: For me, I would say it was all the smokers in my high school. The ones that were like, yah we're allowed to go smoke in the courtyard, we're gonna do it. I'm gonna skip algebra cause I don't know what that is and I'm gonna go have a butt.

JC: A girl that has sex in the back of the tow truck.

BC: Will we get a sequel to The Heat?

JD: I mean, we hope so.

JC: I believe they announced it, Katie has been writing the script for a sequel. That was in the headlines or the trades or wherever, so yeah, we're hoping it all comes together. We had so much fun and we would do it again in a second, of course.

JD: Well, I think it's obvious that we'd be featured pretttty prominently and there'll probably be some musical numbers - if we have anything to do with it.

JC: I can't think of anything we would rather do to be honest, with the possible exception of Ronna & Beverly. Literally it's like the most fun we've ever had.

BC: We know you both have a successful comedy show called Ronna & Beverly. Can you give us the scoop on that?

JDRonna & Beverly is an act that we still do live, we still have our podcast, Ronna & Beverly on the Earwolf network. We perform live in LA, we often travel around the country and sometimes to England where we had a television show of Ronna & Beverly last year and we love doing it- it's an ongoing art project. I think it's something that we have a really great fan base that we love to keep feeding Ronna & Beverly to. And we'll do it as long as people let us. It's super fun. We developed it at the UCB theater, it's based on sort of the almost the opposite end of the spectrum type of Boston characters, from Gina and Beth, it's like we either play scumbags or matriarchs, very little in between, and that's sort of where we are.

JC: Yeah, that's actually how we met Paul. We did a pilot for Showtime in 2009 and Paul directed it, Paul Feig. That's how we met him and he actually produced our show that's in England and produced The Heat, so we've been lucky enough to collaborate with him for the last several years and it's been a really great and free collaboration.

BC: What are the best pieces of dating advice your on-screen/on-stage personalities have to offer?

Gina and Beth: Always give a blowjob on the first date.

Ronna and Beverly: Never give anything away until at least the third date. Never, ever pay for anything as long as you live.

Gina and Beth: Whatever you're wearing, go change into something smaller. You were wrong when you put that on today. Go get something smaller.

Ronna and Beverly: Excuse me; go buy a brassiere that fits you. Everybody - everybody - needs a better bra. Mmm hmm that's true.

BC: What advice do you have for women seeking comedy careers?

JD: I would say it's actually the same for everyone who would want a comedy career, not just women. It would be to study comedy but study other things because you gotta fill your comedy with other shit. So it's fantastic if you are an expert in every cast of Saturday Night Live that's ever lived and all of their parodies of things but you gotta go and fill that well, so you gotta go and study everything and see everything, travel, pick up observations from absolutely everywhere, take classes in things you would never take classes in and then you have your material to parody, to work with. 'Cause I think too many people are just students of comedy and other peoples' comedy. And I think that that actually happens especially now with the Internet where everybody's comedy is out for public consumption, so you think you're educated if you watch every video on Funny or Die but the truth is you have to go and figure out what in the world is funny to you and then use it.

JC: Oh, that was really smart, huh?

JD: Yeah, it was mostly smart.

JC: It was very smart. And actually, going off the last thing you said about what was funny to you, actually that is the most important thing for everyone but also for women in particular, it's like, you have to be a woman who isn't intimidated by men in order to succeed in this business - but basically, you have to find out what's funny to you and you have to be true to that. And so you can't shy away from other people's judgment. You know, I'm not saying don't take opinions and don't grow. Absolutely, that's part of everything in life, but you have to kind of find your voice and develop it cause that's the only thing you have that no one else has. Also, you have to write for yourself.

JD: Oh yeah. If you want people to just give you parts then you have to just be an actress.

BC: What's up next for you guys?

JC: Well, Jamie just filmed a movie that was pitched to Universal, so that's exciting.

JD: You know, we're both continuing to write and develop stuff for Ronna & Beverly we're continuing to write and develop stuff for skanky character versions of ourselves. I think, as for specific projects, we're both writing and auditioning and hoping that someone buys in. The nice thing is, at this point we have a nice little bump of interest because of things like The Heat and that's been really beneficial to both of us. You know, we're just trying to ride those waves and see what we can turn it into. We love writing for ourselves, I think, individually and together.

LA General

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Forbes' list of "30 under 30" includes Aubrey Plaza, Heather Regnier

Mar 25, 2015

30 Under 30 

Presenting our third annual 30 Under 30, a tally of the brightest stars in 15 different fields under the age of 30. This is the time to be young and ambitious. Never before has youth been such an advantage. These founders and funders, brand builders and do-gooders aren't waiting for a proper bump up the career ladder. Their goals are way bigger -- and perfectly suited to the dynamic, entrepreneurial, and impatient digital world they grew up in. Meet the 450 prodigies reinventing the world right now.

Hollywood & Entertainment

Megan Amram

Oliver Bogner

Bing Chen

Ryan Coogler

Lena Dunham

Megan Ellison

Dave Franco

Todrick Hall

Ian Hecox, Anthony Padilla

Grace Helbig

Stephanie Herman

Michael B. Jordan

Anna Kendrick

Jennifer Lawrence

Tom Leach

Deborah McIntosh

Mickey Meyer

Kelly Osbourne

Tiler Peck

Aubrey Plaza
29, Actress
Aubrey Plaza is best known for playing the laconic April on Parks and Recreation. But this year she broke out with movies like Safety Not Guaranteed and The To Do List, an indie that proved the losing-virginty genre doesn't have to be limited to the guys.

Issa Rae

Heather Regnier

28, Writer-comedian
When she was just 25, Heather Regnier was hired as a writer on Steven Spielberg's show Falling Skies. She's now the story editor on Fox's breakout hit Sleepy Hollow. In her spare time Regnier does sketch comedy in the all-female group The Get Go.

Simon Rich

Jason Ruiz

Taylor Schilling

Nev Schulman

Quvenzhan Wallis

Andy Weil

Rebel Wilson

LA General

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Q&A with Autostraddle's comedy crush: Nicole Byer

Mar 25, 2015

Actress Nicole Byer frequently discusses what being a woman means to her on the first two seasons of the talking heads comedy, Girl Code. Before appearing regularly on MTV, the UCB trained comedian appeared on 30 Rock and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Right now you can catch her at Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre LA with sketch team New Money and in the webseries Pursuit of Sexiness with newly minted SNL cast member, Sasheer Zamata.

If you could star in any Broadway show from any period, what would it be?

Well if we are in fantasy land and I can sing, I would be in Taboo, the Boy George musical. If I'm me, I'm dying to be in Raisin in the Sun. I love that play so much. I read it a hundred times in school. There's the narrative about being black in a time of segregation, but it's also about discovering yourself and what's important to you. It's fucking beautiful.

I'm a big believer in foul-mouthed motor skills. Some people just miss the boat in their youth and it shows. You're excellent at cursing so I'm interested to know what or who you would credit for this particular ability?

I FUCKING LOVE TO CURSE. LOVE IT. I think it all started in maybe first grade or some year in school where you still got recess. I remember swinging on the swings with a friend and daring her to say "fuck." It was the baddest of all bad words at the time. She whispered it and like a psychopath I kept being like, "louder, louder, LOUDER!" Finally she said, "you say it." It was like a light going off in my head. I was like this is it, I was meant to be here on these swings saying fuck. So I swung hard and yelled "FUCK" at the top of my lungs and kept saying it over and over. I never felt so free. Probably because I was like 7 with no life experience. From that day on I've loved cursing and saying the nastiest shit possible.

You've been on UCB Harold teams in both NY and LA and as far as I know, you're the first black woman to do that in both places. Given the growing prominence of the theatre, that seems like a big step for black female improvisers. As what I consider a trailblazer, did you feel any added pressure?

I just remember my friend Alan saying I was the Rosa Parks of improv and me telling him to fuck off. There had been a handful of black dudes on Harold teams in both places but I think I was the first black woman. I've only had one class with another black woman which says a lot but not seeing black female performers never deterred me. Coming up I wanted to be like the boys in "Death by Roo Roo" so making a Harold team was just a personal accomplishment for me. I never thought, "WELL THE NEGROES ARE WINNING NOW" because I don't identify as "Nicole the black girl." I'm just Nicole who wants to be funny.

If you could create the perfect job for yourself right now, what would it be?

I would want to be on my own show that I co-created with someone I care about and trust - but who knows if I'm ready for that. I think it's hard to say what the perfect job is because you don't know what the future holds. Your dream job could really be a nightmare. What I do know is that my perfect job is one where I'm acting, being funny, getting paid adequately, and happy.

Who is your favorite drag queen of all time?

OH MAN!!! I used to work a drag show in New York and the host of the show was such a bad motherfucker in and out of drag. Her name is Sweetie and she's such a powerful funny bitch who slays the stage when she lip syncs. I would watch those shows and hope to be as funny and quick witted as they were. Latrice Royale from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4? SO FUCKING FUNNY. I love drag queens because all of them have a story and they are all so brave and strong. It takes a lot to put on a dress, tuck your dick, and fuck the views of the world. I try to live my life like a sloppy drunk queen.

LA General

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