Interview with Mary Beth Barone: “I have always been suspicious of funny women”

“A f *** boy can look like anyone,” warns New York actress Mary Beth Barone, her voice dry like a salty pretzel. “They can be female or trans. They can be straight. They can be homosexual. They can be bi. It is a phenomenon that affects all demographic groups. To put it bluntly, she uses internet slang to refer to someone who will do whatever it takes to have sex with a person and will not take any responsibility for what comes next. “They treat others like they are disposable,” Barone adds, with the grim wisdom of someone who has learned it the hard way.

Barone made f *** boys his business and their redemption his vocation. Slide her ass: AF***treatment program for boy started in 2019 as a live-action comedy show in a small venue in Brooklyn. In it, Barone, an avowed addict recovered from this type of emotionally vacant Casanova, walks her audience through a six-step program to get rid of their bad habit. The act ends with a segment titled “The Redemption” in which a pre-checked f *** boy is invited on stage to repent. “My friend used to go out dressed in Jesus and baptize them in the tears of the girls,” Barone remembers fondly. His sketches have caught on. Small rooms have turned into large rooms. The show was eventually picked up by Comedy Central, where Barone is a now-beloved regular, known for his sets on how vibrators get ‘too intense’ and the definitive rules of sexting.. His seven-minute reasoning on why comedians are bad at sex has over two million views on YouTube. She’s basically the comedy sex therapist – if your sex therapist had a filthy sense of humor.

It’s been a busy year for the 30-year-old, who recently made her late night debut on Tonight’s Show with Jimmy Fallon, a rite of passage for any waiting megastar comic book. She also started Obsessed, a popular Spotify podcast that she records weekly with her best friend, comedian-influencer Benito Skinner. This month, Barone will bring Slide her ass (or rather Ass, she jokes) across the pond for a sold-out screening at the Soho Theater. But for now we’re enjoying a late breakfast in London, where she is currently staying with her boyfriend, the Kill Eve bona fide star and non-f *** boy Edward Bluemel.

It’s not yet noon and there might just be coffee, eggs, and toast on the table, but being with Barone invariably feels like you’re at the afterparty. She has a warm candor that gives the impression that no subject is off limits. I have to fight the sudden urge to tell her my worst dating stories. In a sea of ​​athleisure, Barone wears a black mini-skirt that hovers a few inches above a gorgeous pair of yellow thigh-high boots (“They’re new!”). Her shoulder-length hair is parted in the middle, framing a pair of expressionistic eyes which she uses with spectacular effect in her straightforward comedy. “People tell me I have a very LA vibe, which is just plain rude,” she jokes, her eyes wide. “Like, you really shouldn’t be telling people that. Very rude. But it is my cross to carry.

Barone actually grew up in the “very suburban” town of Stamford, Connecticut, the youngest of six siblings. She was raised as a Christian and attended Catholic School in Greenwich. “I prayed and everything. It was very crazy, ”grinds Barone, who now calls Jesus the original f *** boy. She has since avoided that part of her life – “Thank goodness…” It’s not the only childhood belief she fought against. “I clearly remember my mom saying women aren’t funny and all actresses talk about their period,” she says, laughing at the memory and noting that her parents have come a long way since then. “But hearing this from a young age, I have always been suspicious of funny women because everything my mother said I took as a gospel.”

Barone eventually landed in New York City as a college dropout. She was as serious about comedy as only a 20 year old without a clue can be. “I had the perfect level of illusion and motivation,” she says. Looking back now, she can see that this blind belief was completely “crazy”. And yet her young self was on to something – she continues to perform in bigger and bigger venues, in front of more and more people. Its set on Tonight’s show gave it an audience of over 1.5 million. “Jimmy Fallon came over to say hello and I saw Mike Myers’ favorite locker room. I felt like a star – and then I was in the car on my way home to my parents right after,” she says. “It’s very humiliating in comedy.”

Barone is almost indistinguishable from his character on stage. She speaks in the same monotonous rhythms and flat cadences. And she has the funny ability to laugh without ever really laughing. Barone doesn’t seem to notice when her anecdote – about the time she slept with a man who insisted on smoking a joint in his bed and putting Ty Dolla Sign on his speakers before the ghost completely catches the eye. the attention of the elderly couple next to us. Now she is immune to raised eyebrows. There is a preconceived idea of ​​her, however, which she flouts. “People think I’m going to be a bitch,” she laughs. When I point out to her that her acting does not sound haughty, she breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank you! I always try to hit and not be mean unnecessarily.

However, not everyone is ready to see how risky she supposedly is. Recently on Instagram, Barone posted a screenshot of an email from a journalist informing Barone that his interview was no longer going to be featured in their post. The expression “too frank and graphic” was used. The name of the outlet, however, has been blacked out. It offers an easy answer. “His The temperatureshe said, shrugging her shoulders. “I’ll reveal it on my show anyway.” She looks like she’s done with it. Type of. “It’s just frustrating because they are the ones who contacted me,” she says. “I have to laugh [at the situation] because in reality it is offensive. I gave you my time and I sent you pictures and then you are going to tell me that I am “too frank and graphic”? Do we still describe women like that in 2021? Barone frowns in genuine confusion about it all, and his eyes narrow for the first time since we sat down. “Regardless, my boyfriend told me it was a conservative newspaper anyway so it’s okay,” she smiles cheekily.

“For a long time, we expected that actresses were part of the guys,” says the 30-year-old.

(Marie Beth Barone)

In America, however, it has already resonated with a generation. Earlier this year, Vulture anointed Barone “the undisputed queen of hot girl comedy”. Translation: she tells good jokes while being beautiful. On stage, the capped comedian wears turquoise eyeshadows, tailored pants and cute crop tops. Its look is a far cry from the lazy atmosphere that previously dominated the comedy circuit. “For a long time, actresses were expected to be guys,” she says. “You go up there looking like a mess to tell self-deprecating jokes that no one will fuck you.” Now, she said, we don’t have to do that. “We have our own space outside of the boys’ club and I think that’s a huge testament to the LGBTQ + indie comedy scene,” said Barone, who identifies as bisexual.

As comedy thrives in a more inclusive light, what lurks in the shadows has also become the focus of attention, particularly in the United States. In 2017, comedy hub Louis CK admitted several counts of sexual misconduct. Last year, stand-up Chris D’Elia was accused of soliciting child pornography, among other disturbing allegations. A month later, comedian Bryan Callen was charged with sexual assault. “You never want to think that your industry is attracting losers because then you have to ask yourself ‘what’s wrong with me? »», Explains Barone. “But for some reason comedy appeals to narcissists. Or people who were losers growing up and are now popular. It’s a strange dynamic. People are so intoxicated with power that they feel the rules don’t apply to them.

More often than not, they are right. D’Elia, Barone points out, still has her radio show and nearly two million Instagram followers. “He’ll be fine,” she said. While not everyone in comedy is a mugger, Barone says “aggression” is a problem. “Whether emotionally, mentally or physically” there seems to be an epidemic of comedians who regularly cross the lines.

Where the line is on stage, that’s also a hot topic. Dave Chapelle’s Netflix Special The closest, in which the comedian pokes fun at transgender people and declares himself #TeamTerf, is a clear example of this debate. Barone frowns thoughtfully in his oatmeal cappuccino. “I just think, was it worth it?” This is a question that guides his own comedy. When Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed in Supreme Court amid sexual assault allegations, Barone wrote a joke. “I wanted to take control of the story and talk about the sexual assault the way I wanted to talk about it because I experienced it,” she says. After performing it several times, Barone paused to think, “Is this joke worth the potential damage it could cause someone?” The answer was simple: no. She cut him out of his routine and moved on. “I think people should be able to say whatever they want, but I also think people shouldn’t want to say these things! Yeah, you can say whatever you want but don’t be a jerk.

There is a feeling of celebrity around comedians these days, who use social media and TikTok for a laugh. That’s why Barone will get as many likes on a mirror selfie as on a clip from his latest stand-up. And she doesn’t mind being called some sort of comedy influencer, she would like to clarify one thing: the joke is on us because comedy isn’t cool. “Maybe it’s our fault because we make it fun,” Barone says. “But comedy is the most embarrassing and the worst thing you can do.” I don’t know if she’s kidding.

Slide her ass is at the Soho Theater, London, November 18-20

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