Alum turns real life into comedic sketches

by Katherine Burns / Beacon Staff • February 10, 2016

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Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn star on Just Between Us.
Courtesy of Gaby Dunn
Allison Raskin and Gaby Dunn star on Just Between Us.
Courtesy of Gaby Dunn

Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin sit side-by-side on a couch in their apartment set, under a sign made from Post-It Notes on the wall behind them that reads “Just Between Us” in glittery letters. Raskin holds a card with a viewer question and reads, “Am I a lesbian or am I just lonely?” The question never gets answered—this is a typical episode of Just Between Us

Emerson alumna Dunn, 27, co-created the web series Just Between Us with her friend Raskin after both left BuzzFeed over a year ago. Working 15-hour days out of Raskin’s apartment, which doubles as their set, the two crank out weekly sketches including a series of roommate conflicts, fake audition tapes for reality show The Bachelorette, and one in which the two switch bodies Freaky Friday style. There’s also a couch segment where they entertain viewer questions like the one above. 

With over 580,000 subscribers and a possible television pilot in the future, according to Dunn, the channel has gained momentum that she said she never predicted. 

Dunn said she met Raskin while both were doing stand-up in Los Angeles.

“If you’re two girls at an open mic, you start talking to each other because you’re like, ‘Oh no, please no men speak to me,’” Dunn, who graduated in 2009, said.

Shortly after, Dunn said, she got her position at BuzzFeed and, subsequently, Raskin was hired to play her best friend for a series about female friendship. 

Raskin said they began Just Between Us before they began working at Buzzfeed, but they’ve since left to focus on the channel, and because they wanted to own their content. 

Just Between Us began with Dunn and Raskin filming their responses to fake viewer questions. 

“The whole point of the show is an advice show where we don’t answer the questions,” Raskin said. “It was just like a terrible advice show.” 

They’ve since received real viewer questions, and introduced a weekly sketch segment of different scenarios drawing on exaggerated versions of events from their lives. 

In their first episode, Dunn and Raskin took a series of dates to the same brunch place over the course of several weeks, only to one day find two of their exes have gotten together and are sitting a table away from them while they dine.

“We need a new brunch place,” they declare in the episode. Dunn said that, in reality, they took their dates to a bowling alley.

 In both her video content and written work, Dunn is vocal about her sexuality. In the show, she has a relaxed dating life with a variety of boyfriends and girlfriends who make appearances on camera. She’s an outspoken feminist in the show, and open about her polyamory. This contrasts sharply with Raskin, who tries as hard as she can to be like everyone else in spite of her obsessive compulsive disorder. 

“She’s the person who wants to get married, wants to have babies, wants to have this normal life but when you watch the show you’re like ‘That chick’s out of her mind,’” Dunn said. “And this queer poly feminist who you would think is the weird one actually seems pretty calm.”

Dunn is currently working on what she describes as a “tongue-in-cheek” non-fiction guide for bisexuals after coming out including what information one needs to know, and what TV shows and movies to watch. She has written articles about her sexuality for Cosmopolitan, Thought Catalogue, and Women’s Health.

“It’s very important for me to be so open because I have that luxury,” Dunn said. “I may as well be the person talking about this because I know there’s tons of people who can’t.”

Dunn said she spent most of her time at Emerson working for The Berkeley Beacon and as a crime reporter for the Boston Globe. She auditioned for—and got into—the comedy troupe Chocolate Cake City as a junior, but said she saw it only as a hobby. It wasn’t until she interned at The Daily Show that she decided she wanted to go into comedy. 

Dunn said the channel sold a pilot based on the show last year that didn’t take off for reasons outside of their control. They are hoping to sell another pilot in the next couple of weeks, but even if it gets picked up, Dunn and Raskin said, they will continue the channel on YouTube. 

“I just love comedy and I love doing projects that I care about,” Raskin said. “So I’m super open to anything and obviously the hope is to go mainstream one day.”