By Tyler Calder

Sasheer Zamata is going to make you laugh this year — I can guarantee it. This spring, she teamed up with close friend Nicole Byer on the Best Friends podcast, which — while only twentyish episodes in – is already among our personal feel-good favorites. (It’s basically like hanging on the couch with your own besties, if they were all professional comedians). In her latest movie, The Weekend, Sasheer expands our conditioned understanding of what rom-com leading ladies should be like – bringing a more brazen sidekick-type to the forefront, and turns out, we’re better off for it. We recently spoke with Sasheer ahead of her upcoming trip to our hometown of Washington D.C., as she prepares for an afternoon in conversation with award-winning author Roxane Gay during this year’s Tenth-Annual Bentzen Ball.

We love the Best Friends podcast – what inspired you to create it and what does an ideal bestie night look like for you?
Sasheer Zamata: Nicole and I have been friends and work collaborators for ten years, and we got approached to do this podcast. Nicole was already working on her other podcast, “Why Won’t You Date Me?” and we had been performing improv together for a while. We did a show in LA and someone from Earwolf saw it and said, “You guys have such great chemistry. Is there something we can do with the two of you?” We couldn’t think of a theme besides the fact that we’re really great friends, so we thought, why don’t we just talk about friendship? We gave it a go and people seemed to like it.

I didn’t realize how many people needed to hear about friendships and building and maintaining those relationships.

There are so many things [that exist in media] that talk about romantic relationships – how to get them and how to keep them – but it’s not as common to hear about the importance of a best friend. I love that we get to do that and share our friendship with people and give advice to other friends on their relationships. We love hearing what other people are going through as well as talking about what we’re going through. Honestly, we would be doing this on Nicole’s couch anyway, so it’s really fun that we have microphones and people can listen in and kind of spy on us.

An ideal bestie night for me is doing just that – sitting on the couch, ordering food in, watching 90-Day Fiancé on TV, and sending Instagram memes to each other while sitting next to each other.

We’re excited to see you in conversation with Roxane Gay at Bentzen Ball in the next few weeks. What are you most looking forward to about that conversation?
SZ: I’m just ready to ask her a lot of good questions and to learn from her. I loved her book, Bad Feminist, so much and I’ve met her once before. She came to a Best Friends show actually – which was so nice and supportive. I’m just excited to see her in a casual – well maybe not super casual since we’ll be on stage – setting where we can really sit down and have an intimate conversation.

You also have a new movie out, The Weekend – what was the best part about working on it?
SZ: Yes! The Weekend is out now on Amazon and iTunes and it’s on-demand, and I’m just so excited for people to see it. It’s a really fun rom-com in which I play a comedian who is in love with my ex, who has since moved on with another girl. As you might expect, I’m not letting go, so I invite him to my mom’s bed and breakfast, and he brings his girlfriend, which turns into an awkward love triangle.

It’s a really fun, really relatable story. The cast is amazing – everyone’s young and killing it in the entertainment game right now, so it’s so great to be a part of that. Stella Meghie, the writer/director, is so great at telling a story, and really creates these very full characters. It’s just nice to be able to play a role like this.

The character I play, Zadie, is not your typical romantic lead. She’s sarcastic and blunt and I feel like you usually see this character as the sidekick or friend, but it’s nice to see this person be the lead of her own story because this person exists in the world. I’ve had people come up to me and be like, “Ohmygosh, I’m Zadie! I’m so glad she exists at the forefront [of this movie].” This person deserves love too and I’m so happy to see that highlighted.

Where else can fans look for you in the coming months?
SZ: Coming up, I’m in a show on Comedy Central called Robbie, created by Rory Scovel. He and I are co-parenting a child together in the show. It’s supposed to come out next year so keep on the lookout. I’m also working on another standup special — date TBA.

You’ve had a busy year! When you do have a spare moment to relax, what are you picking up, tuning into, or just plain obsessed with?
SZ: I just started watching The Politician on Netflix, and I’m really into that. I’m also really into teen shows right now – I watched PEN15, and I ate up Euphoria and 13 Reasons Why. I just can’t get enough of these teen shows about going through it right now.

Want to catch Sasheer IRL? See her in conversation with Roxane Gay on Saturday, October 26th at BYT and Tig Notaro’s Bentzen Ball. Get your tickets here.

Lede image by Zack DeZon.