The Nags: Q&A with Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo of Ronna & Beverly
For a lot of us around here, there’s something powerfully familiar about the title characters in the hit podcast Ronna & Beverly, which last month celebrated its second anniversary. That’s because Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, the writers and actresses who play the title characters, have based them on people they knew while growing up in Newton and Swampscott, respectively.
Recording the podcast each week out of Chaffin’s Los Angeles home, the duo portray two middle-aged Boston-area Jewish women with no boundaries. They riff on the news and pop-culture events, and host special guests—including big Hollywood names like Jon Hamm and Connie Britton—whose psyches they probe deeply. (On a recent episode with the actor Nate Corddry, the two couldn’t stop asking him about his lesbian mother. “He was a good sport,” Denbo says.)
We spoke with Chaffin and Denbo about comedy, entertainment, and growing up in the Boston suburbs.
On Their Favorite Compliment
Chaffin and Denbo love it when people who’ve only heard the podcast meet them and realize Ronna and Bev aren’t real. “You’re not on a stage with a visible wig, yelling to project,” Denbo says. “It feels like it could be very much your mom or aunt having a conversation.”
On Finding Celebrity Guests
“Because we’re both working actors and writers, it’s whoever you kind of meet along the way,” Chaffin says. “A lot of it is people we’ve known for years, or worked with in certain ways. But people also tell other people.” Chaffin’s fiancé, for instance, worked as a writer on Friday Night Lights, and told Connie Britton that she should do the show.
On What They Find Funny
“The stuff that made us laugh when we were eight-year-old kids, standing next to our moms in the supermarket, hilariously, is still the stuff that makes us laugh,” Chaffin says. “And now it’s the stuff that we do. We’ve chosen it. This is our passion project.”
On Life Outside the Podcast
Ronna & Beverly isn’t a moneymaker, but it’s become a career springboard. It helped them get supporting roles in The Heat, a comedy starring Melissa McCarthy and Sandra Bullock that filmed in Boston. And Chaffin now has a CBS pilot in the pipeline. Denbo, meanwhile, just sold a writing project to FX.