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(Photos courtesy of Audible Canada by Matt Misisco)

Like Two Peas In A Podcast

BFFs Mae Martin and Sabrina Jalees invite us into their friendship circle to discuss joining forces for their new podcast, why oversharing is caring, and how they hope to open up dialogue between friends around the world…

By Stephan Petar

If there is one thing Mae Martin (Feel Good, The Flight Attendant) and Sabrina Jalees (Farming for Love, Carol’s Second Act) will teach you in their new Canadian Audible Original podcast Benefits with Friends, it’s that oversharing is caring and it’s important to dig deep with your best friend. 

Mae (they/them) and Sabrina’s (she/her) lifelong friendship started 20 years ago in Toronto when they were rising stars in the comedy scene. While their inner circles encouraged them to meet, the pair didn’t connect until they were on the same billing for a show. “We were pretty deep right away. We had this shared ambition and passion for comedy,” Mae told IN.

Despite busy production schedules and living in different countries with different time zones, the pair stayed close, strengthening their friendship and evolving their conversations. This is evident in their 10-episode podcast, which is a hilarious and candid journey exploring topics like friendship, gender, parenting, shame and more. Their hope is that listeners will grab their friend(s) and chat about these things too. “I feel when you share everything in your brain with your friend, you both grow together,” Mae says in Episode 1. 

Listeners will instantly feel Mae and Sabrina’s connection, support and competitive spirit. Throughout the podcast, and in our interview, they finished each other’s sentences, called each other out and made one another laugh – like true BFFs. 

What was the inspiration behind this project? Who came up with it?
Mae Martin:
 We’ve wanted to work together for a while. We’ve done a lot of live stand-up shows together, but any time we’d get together with a producer and try to come up with an idea of something to pitch, all we wanted to do was talk about our friendship and tell stories about each other. And then we were like, ‘Let’s do that.’

What can listeners expect from Benefits with Friends?
Laughs, tears, arguments…
Sabrina Jalees: …the feeling you get right after you’ve cried and you’re going to laugh…
MM: …sexual tension, we’ve got it all. I feel romantic relationships are so celebrated, and friendships have to play second fiddle. My friendship with Sabrina has been such a guiding light and she’s known every version of me and put up with so much that it’s always nice to dig deep into those relationships.
SJ: You write love songs about these people you’re with for a couple of years, and then whose arms are you going to be in when that relationship falls apart? Sabrina Jalees or Mae Martin!

The podcast seems like an authentic conversation with no script. What was the recording process like? 
We went in knowing there were certain bullet points we wanted to hit with each theme, but there was no real script. It’s our candid take on the thoughts that come up when we think about shame, for example. That episode [“Shame”] encapsulates a little bit of what we were going for. When you talk about things that feel vulnerable or personal, all of a sudden those things you were once embarrassed about feel more empowering, and you feel connected and closer together. Whereas when you deal with them in silence, you feel so fucking lonely.
MM: You can get a lot deeper and more vulnerable if you’re in a safe space with someone that you really trust and who’s going to call you on your shit. It’s hard to stick to any kind of script when Sabrina is present because all of a sudden you’re in an improvised scene. That’s why I loved it. 

Did you reveal anything you didn’t think you would? Were you surprised by anything?
Yes, I was. There are things Sabrina remembers that I don’t remember doing from long ago. In the ‘Money’ episode, there were a couple of stories where I was like, ‘Did I do that?’ You think you’ve talked about everything with your best friend, but there’s stuff we have never talked about that we found we had different opinions on.
SJ: And once you open an episode titled ‘Kink,’ you are sharing things that you wouldn’t necessarily be catching up with over a coffee.

Where did you come up with these topics? Are they things you speak about regularly?
Some come up a lot in our work and some interest us. Things like shame and money can be awkward to talk about with friends. We wanted to push ourselves to explore things that we might not normally.
SJ: We wanted those juicy topics. For me, if I’m at an airport bar, these are the places that I’m going. If I’m meeting a lady named Diane from Chicago and I’m never going to see her again, then these are the areas I always want to go in conversationally.

What is the difference between talking about these topics in your stand-up compared to this podcast?
The difference is being challenged. Doing stand-up is a totally solipsistic thing. When you have someone else there challenging you, you’re forced to entertain different points of view. When you’re in your own head and exploring things in either stand-up or scripts, you can get kind of locked into certain paths of thinking, thought loops or narratives.
SJ: Stand-up can be this internal monologue where you’re also chasing the laugh. As you tell the story you start to find the laugh points, whereas in a conversation with Mae, it’s never short of laughter. A really enjoyable part of recording these episodes is that I don’t think either of us ever was thinking, ‘Alright, this will be a funny area. Let’s really laugh about this.’ In each episode we both felt emotional.
MM: It’s one of the most revealing things I’ve ever done. When you’re with somebody who knows you so well, you can’t wear the mask of performance – you have to be yourself.

You’ve both lived all over the world, so what tips would you give to friends who want to maintain a strong connection while living apart?
Living in so many places, the friendships [that have] endured are the ones where they don’t get mad at me and I don’t get mad at them when we don’t talk for a week or two. [Trust] takes that pressure off. You can’t be like, ‘I haven’t heard from them in a few days. I guess they don’t care about me anymore.’
SJ: There’s a fairy tale that people buy into with friendship that there’s going to be some psychic bond or some consistency when you first connect and collide. When we first met, our job was to run around after school and go see comedy together. We had all of this time, but then you grow up and there’s jobs and relationships. The friendships that have lasted are built on a foundation where we’re not looking for reasons to doubt each other’s love.
MM: If you haven’t seen someone in a year and you go and have your big friendship reunion, you’ve got to meet them where they are and be excited about where they are and not wanting an older version of them. 

What’s next for you both?
I’m finishing the writer’s room for a new Netflix series that I’m going to shoot in Canada from June to September. I’m mainly excited that I’m in L.A. at a time when Sabrina’s new baby is going to be born.… That’s the most exciting thing.
SJ: My second baby’s coming in March and I’m acting in a movie that’s premiering at South by Southwest called Doin’ It…in March as well.

You can listen to all 10 episodes of Benefits with Friends on, but note this podcast dives into adult themes and mature topics, so maybe listen to it with a pair of earphones. 

STEPHAN PETAR is a born and raised Torontonian, known for developing lifestyle, entertainment, travel, historical and 2SLGBTQ+ content. He enjoys wandering the streets of any destination he visits, where he’s guaranteed to discover something new or meet someone who will inspire his next story.

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