Jamie Denbo on bringing “Ronna & Beverly” across the pond to Sky Atlantic

Ronna Glickman and Beverly Kahn are the fictional best-selling co-authors of You’ll Do a Little Better Next Time: A Guide to Marriage and Re-marriage for Jewish Singles.

In real life, Ronna and Beverly are comedians Jessica Chaffin and Jamie Denbo, friends from the Boston area who have taken their accents west to Los Angeles for a long-running talk show at the UCB Theatre — their next live chat at UCB’s Hollywood venue is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2012 — and now across the pond to the U.K., where their first six-episode TV chat show, Ronna & Beverly, began airing this week on Britain’s Sky Atlantic HD. New episodes air Monday nights with late-night repeats later in the week. Their guests in the hot seat include Jon Hamm, David Walliams, Alfie Boe, Frank Skinner, Alan Cumming, Fern Britton, Claudia Winkelman, Michael Bolton and more.

It’s executive produced and directed by Paul Feig, who said: “I’ve been a huge fan of Jamie and Jessica for years and am thrilled Sky Atlantic HD has allowed us to unleash Ronna & Beverly over their airwaves.  It’s all part of my evil plan to export more funny women to the world.”

Do you not know Ronna and Beverly? Here is a brief introduction to them from Sky Atlantic. Roll it!

After this teaser trailer, Jamie Denbo explains to The Comic’s Comic how she and Chaffin adapted their theatrical chat show to the telly for a British audience.

Ronna and Beverly filmed a pilot for Showtime in 2009 that took a more traditional single-cam sitcom approach. How did you adapt your long-running UCB chat show to the rigors and sensibilities of a British television audience?

“We have spent a LOT of time in the UK over the past few years. We started performing at the Soho Theater in London and then the Edinburgh Festival in 2010, and kept going back for more theatrical runs in London, often appearing on various radio programs as well — such as Loose Ends, which is a rather popular program. Radio still goes a long way over there.  It is NOT the lost art form it is here.  Artistically, it was a transition and a learning curve for us as we helped to make Ronna & Beverly more “the UK’s crazy American cousins” rather than “those crazy American tourists.”  We adopted subtle differences that make us much more of the UK fabric over the time we spent there.  We developed a real familiarity with the REAL UK — the best stores, the local references, the things only people who spend a lot of time there might understand.   And much of that just came about organically as we spent more and more time there and truly became part-time residents of the UK.  There seems to be an appreciation for our lack of ignorance about current politics and our desire to do more than talk about how we call a “lorrie” a “truck” where we come from.”
What do you make of American comedians getting chances to break out via Sky Atlantic first before doing so in our homeland? I know Sky Atlantic is airing the first TV episodes of the live “Set List” comedy show, too.

“We are honored to make a break in TV over there. It feels like a badge of honor to work in a country known for such sophisticated and well-loved comedy. We are very lucky to be in such good company.  To be at the Sky Atlantic press event sharing the stage with Armando Ianucci, Steve Coogan and Julia Davis was a total thrill and honor as we are longtime fans of them all. We also feel that there was a generous acceptance of our act over there. Perhaps because our characters are grotesque older ladies and the Brits seem to care a bit less about being “hot” and “funny” at the same time — as opposed to some of the more American development sensibility. Also – they love a double act (see: AbFab) and there is also a TV precedent for the kind of thing we are doing. (See: Mrs. Merton.) Sky Atlantic has a great reputation for airing the best of our American cable programing. They have Game of Thrones, Girls, Mad Men and other really high-quality shows.  They have EXCELLENT taste. We are totally thrilled they included us in their stellar lineup. And of course, we would NOT object to cross promotion — Ronna as a secretary in 1965, anyone?  Bev as a “wildling”? It has been an INCREDIBLE experience. Hat Trick, specifically Stu Mather was an incredible producer who had a total vision for what R&B could be over there and we are so happy that all of our time in the UK just gets better and better.

With that, here’s one more look at Ronna and Beverly in action, as they chat up Jon Hamm and Stephen Mangan. Enjoy!

Since Americans cannot watch the Sky Atlantic series on their TV screens yet — c’mon syndication — you’ll have to wait until you’re in Los Angeles when they are for a live show. Or, you can listen to the Ronna and Beverly audio podcast on the Earwolf network.

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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