With the premiere of Idiotsitter, two more funny females are joining the likes of Amy, Ilana and Abbi on Comedy Central.
Jillian Bell plays Gene, a wild trustfund baby who is under house arrest in her dad's mansion. Charlotte Newhouse plays Billie, a Harvard grad desperate for cash to pay off her student loans, so she's forced to take a job "sitting" for Gene. Things get hilarious when the two are essentially trapped in each other’s company. Bell and Newhouse created and star in the show. BUST sat down with the comedy duo to talk about their new show.
Idiotsitter started as a webseries. Was it challenging to adapt the same premise to a longer show format?
CN: Well, we originally pitched it to Comedy Central as a TV show, and we had written a pilot. They asked us to do a webseries to show our chemistry together and our writing and the world we had created, so it was kind of an easy way to do a pilot that showed a lot more than a pilot, actually. We always imagined it as a TV show, so it wasn’t a stretch to make the webseries into a show. It's actually pretty hard to make five-minute episodes like you do with webseries; it’s a different skill. Making a really tight five minute piece is at least as challenging.
JB: I agree!
Of course, we all love to see female-led shows, and a lot of times those shows are centered on a group of female friends or a friendship between two women, but you guys really have a totally unique take on this idea of female friendship. How did you come up with the premise for this show?
CN: This was the first thing we wrote together (we met at the Groundlings) that wasn’t a sketch, and we thought, "Well, if we have to shoot this ourselves, what would be cost effective?" "What would a story be that wouldn’t involved shooting a lot on location?" and that’s how we came up with house arrest, and it all kind of came from there. But I will say about the dynamic between the two of us, we think that what is fun about it and what makes it, like you said, different than people who are friends who choose each other is that these two people see each other as fundamentally deficient in some way. You know, Billie has no life experience, she never parties, she doesn’t have a lot of experience with boys; whereas Gene has never had a job, she’s never had to live on her own. They both see each other as so fundamentally lacking, and they also see it as their job and their duty to help the other person grow and become better people. So it’s more of a teacher-student dynamic between both of them. If you keep watching, Gene gets Billie to expand her horizons just as much as Billie does for Gene.
JB: And I’d like to add to that: True dat. And that’s D-A-T.
Both of you have experience as writers and actors on other shows. How does it feel to now to have a show that is completely your own — that you’ve created and written and starred in — and what are the different challenges that come with that?
JB: I mean, it feels really great. The easiest part is that we’re writing for ourselves and for each other, and we’ve always said that we sort of share a brain when it comes to writing. We know what the other person’s going to say before they...
CN: Say it.
JB: Thank you, Charlotte!
CN: I almost missed that. I almost missed it. The short answer is that it’s amazing. It is amazing to get to do it all yourself, but the flip side of that is it’s a lot of responsibility. It’s our baby, so everything from picking out exactly what hat or shoe or what shot is necessary? What can we lose last minute? We have ownership over every single thing, which is great, but it’s a lot of work. But it is great work. It’s something we would very much loved to do again and again.
Since you met at The Groundlings, you both must have some improv skills. How much of the show was improvised?
JB: We improvise a lot when we’re writing, and we do improvise some on the day as well.
CN: At Groundlings though, we met doing sketch and writing together and that’s what kind of clicked for us with each other. You know, Jill is a great improvisor, I’m fine —
JB: Oh stop it! You’re a great improvisor.
CN: But we write together very well, so it’s great to have improv to fall back on, but we never write thinking, "Oh, we’ll just make it funny on the day." It has to be funny on the page.
Even with hilarious shows like Broad City and Inside Amy Schumer, shows that are created and written by women, starring women, still aren't considered the norm, and we still hear people bringing up that question of if women are funny. Do you ever feel pressure to prove that women are funny or that women can make a successful show that appeals to a wide audience?
CN: I think there are a lot of pressure that come with having a show, but I’m not most nervous about the show coming out and having people think, “Oh women are not funny.” I just hope they like the show. I really just hope they think we’re funny as people. What’s exciting about this dialogue is that hopefully it will cease to exist soon. If you even take on network like Comedy Central, and you look at their other shows that have female leads, they’re so totally different. We all take on hilarious topics. Just on this one network you see there’s such a wide array of ways you can be funny. Hopefully soon this dialogue will become just about people in comedy or at least just white people in comedy. I’M KIDDING. But you know it’s great that we get the opportunity to have a show and even if it is just an equality thing, that’s good because it will give the opportunity to a lot of funny people.
Idiotsitter premiers Thursday January 14th at 10:30 pm on Comedy Central.
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Olivia’s first sentence was “No talk, just laugh” and since then, she’s made it her business to find the humorous side of life and share her absurd observations with others. She’s a writer, a lover of all things pop culture, and she can’t fall asleep without having 30 Rock on in the background. If you like looking at pictures of food and random dogs, you should check out Olivia’s Instagram.