Goofy without being glib and smart without being prosaic, “Just Between Us” is the ever so charming podcast from longtime friends, comedians and authors Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin, who will do a live show in Seattle at the Triple Door on July 24.
Dunn and Raskin met on the LA comedy scene in their twenties and launched the YouTube channel that would morph into “Just Between Us”. It ended up bringing them unprecedented success and fast-tracked their friendship. More projects followed for both of them, including Dunn’s millennial-focused personal finance podcast Bad With Money, and two co-authored young-adult novels, “I Hate Everyone But You” and its recently released sequel, “Please Send Help.”
The validity and importance of friendship in young women’s lives remains a key component of their work, together and apart. Raskin has appeared on “Bad With Money” and “I Hate Everyone But You” and “Please Send Help” both feature the same fictional pair of best friends.
There’s a reason for this: Friendships can be deeply sustaining, especially in early adulthood, when they often outlast more fleeting, less stable romantic partnerships. “Because people are getting married later, your twenties are the decade of friendship, or your friends become your family,” says Raskin.
“Just Between Us” delves into topics ranging from mental health and LGBTQ allyship, to Raskin’s dog and online dating, all with Dunn and Raskin’s characteristic humor, compassion and a long-running commitment to “brutal honesty, female friendship and completely unsolicited advice.”
Here’s what they had to say about giving advice to strangers, getting over insecurity, and what it’s like when you’re contractually obligated to get along with your best friend. This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
Are there any topics you haven’t gotten to on the podcast that you’re excited about?
Gaby Dunn: We’ve touched on unhealthy dating relationships on the show and so I’m always happy when we do an international question about something like that, because I feel like then we get to validate people who are like, “I want out of this unhealthy situation, but I don’t know how,” and I think hearing it from friends [that] “Oh, you should break up,” you can write it off. But maybe if you get advice from two random girls, you can be like, ‘Well, they must be telling the truth.’ Even when people are like, “I don’t know, should I go to therapy?” or whatever, I feel like there’s a lot of topics where you’re like, “Well, I want to ask my friends, but I feel like they’re biased,” and so it’s been fun answering the advice questions … we’re giving people — not maybe the best advice — but definitely advice from two people who have experienced some stuff.
And you’re also a neutral party in the way that a therapist is a neutral party.
Allison Raskin: Except we yell at you more than your therapist probably would.
Dunn: We do yell at you, and what’s funny is the people [who] have written in just thinking that we are going to side with them and then we don’t side with them at all.
You say on your tagline that you offer unsolicited advice, but people do write to you with these questions.
Dunn: They solicit some of it. I feel like they’re getting more than they bargained for.
Raskin: I almost feel like the unsolicited advice is what we give each other, not so much the audience. You know we’re constantly kind of involving ourselves in each other’s lives and telling each other what to do whether we want to hear it or not.
I think part of what makes it an interesting podcast is the dynamic between you two. How do you do that when you also have this very close friendship?
Dunn: I like to say that we had a kid on our honeymoon because we met doing standup and Allison is very good about friendship and likes to follow up and I was new to L.A., so she just made plans to hang out … we disagreed on a lot of stuff because we had very different backgrounds and opinions, but for some reason we weren’t annoyed at each other, we would just kind of be like, “You’re insane,” “Well you’re insane.” And then we’d be like, “OK, whatever,” and move on, which I hadn’t really ever had with anyone… and then we were like, “Let’s do a project together,” and … we didn’t necessarily think that this was going to take off in any way, we were just like, “Yeah, we’re both in entertainment, let’s do a YouTube channel, whatever.” … we started doing it and we were like, “This won’t be a huge thing, it’ll just be like a thing that we’re doing.”
And then it’s the thing that took off for both of us… people were like, “You guys are our best friends,” and we’re like “Yeah we’re best friends, we’re in love, we’re doing it.”
But we also were forced to work through any problem we had because we were contractually obligated, so it was similar to a marriage, a “Married at First Sight” situation.
Allison, you said that you both had to do personal work to maintain your partnership, which sounds very couples therapy now that I’m hearing myself say it. What did that entail?
Raskin: It’s a lot of getting over insecurities and getting over pettiness and resentments and I think when you’re younger … you compare yourself to other people a lot more, and there was more competitiveness on my end probably, and just kind of figuring out that we’re different, what my strengths are, what her strengths are, focusing on my strengths instead of my weaknesses, and getting to a place where I don’t get rattled as easily by anyone. I’m in a much more stable place, and so that informs my interactions with everyone, including Gaby.
Dunn: It was. I mean, we’re both in therapy, we’re both medicated, what a turn of events. I don’t even do drugs anymore. I mean, things are really looking up for both of us.
That’s an important part of being able to spend time with other people — taking care of yourself and your own needs.
Raskin: Oh, absolutely. If you’re not happy in a room alone with yourself, then you’re not going to be happy anywhere, really.
“Just Between Us”
Live podcast recording Wednesday, July 24 at 7:30 p.m. at the Triple Door, 216 Union St., Seattle, $20-$60