People treat podcasts like they’re a relatively new phenomenon, but the hosts of Lady to Lady have been going strong for the past decade. The three comedians—Barbara (Babs) Gray, Brandie Posey, and Tess Barker—hit their 500th episode at the end of August, and even after this huge milestone they’re still discovering new details about one other.
Your typical episode of Lady to Lady involves goofy one-liners from the trio at the top of the show, some life updates from them, and then an introduction to their guest, who could be anyone from actor French Stewart (of 3rd Rock from the Sun and Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2 fame), to fellow comics like Amy Miller and Jenny Yang. They play sleepover games, chat about what’s going on in the world, and then end by listening to and solving a listener’s “Lady Problem.”
Three different voices (or four including the guest) speaking over each other may sound intimidating, but thankfully Gray, Posey, and Barker are quite vocally distinct—as well as being very much their own people. Gray is a grown-up theater kid and comedy nerd, ready to talk to you about Britney Spears (she and Barker championed the #FreeBritney movement in a side podcast) or her year-long commitment to sobriety (new podcast Babstinence); Posey is a straight-edge punk who doesn’t give a fuck in the best way possible; Barker is a valley girl who may be secretly a superhero, considering her ability to put her mind to anything and then just do it. The longevity of the podcast means that long-time listeners feel deeply connected to the hosts (one fan made yarn dolls of them) and newcomers have a whole backlog to enjoy.
In case you can’t tell, I’m a big fan, so it was a delight to chat with them over Zoom about how the podcast has changed over the years, their most surprising guests, and much more.
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Since the podcast started 10 years ago, how has your relationship with each other changed over the years?
Brandie Posey: We only speak on Zoom.
Barbara Gray: I mean, it starts as this fun idea. It was a live show first, and it became a business, like, we run a small business together now. When your dream becomes real, it’s really fun, but it’s a lot. It’s more serious and we have to meet about things all the time. It takes a lot of work, and so our friendship morphed into a business relationship.
Posey: I think we’ve been really lucky that all three of us are extremely hard workers. It would not work if we did not respect each other’s work ethic. And like, nobody is a slouch here at all.
Tess Barker: We’ve also had so much fun traveling and doing shows together. There’s very much a fun, family camp vibe. We’ve been on a ton of road trips together and had a lot of late nights ordering room service and just watching crap reality TV. That part of it has been really fun, too. I just feel so fortunate to get to do this. Like, who gets to do this with their girlfriends, just travel to these random places? Isn’t this what everyone wants to do?
Tess, you mentioned the live shows—what do you think is your favorite road trip or live show thing you’ve done together?
Barker: Oh my god, well—we’ve had so many fun live shows. The live shows we did at UCB were just these incredible meldings of mediums because they were what we have in the podcast—us chatting and hanging—but then we would, even when we had no money, we would all pitch in and [do stuff like] get fake plastic butts for everyone. I remember skateboarding into Hollywood Toys & Costumes and asking for the fake butt section. There was one show where we had a friend hide on stage in a box the entire time. And this kid was like, hiding in a cardboard box. And at the end of the show, he popped out and surprised everyone.
Posey: That show was great, too, because then we got to go back and he’d been live tweeting from inside the box the entire time. So it was a little Easter egg for us with a show within a show that’s been happening for people on Twitter.
Gray: It would be a talk show, but run through this sketch and they would just end in this super epic way. One of my favorites was we did the dance from First Wives Club. We made everyone wear white jackets and do this dance, but then also the show had gotten taken over by an Oprah impersonator we’d hired, and so it was heightened to this crazy place.
One of our best adventures was we used to get random promotional items in the mail, and our producer one time, she messaged us, and she was like, Uh, I just got this giant sex toy in the mail. What was it called? Like a Sybian knockoff or something. She just got a giant sex toy in the mail, and she was like, What do we do with this? And we’re like, Okay, well, there’s three of us, so we’re not going to fight over this. So we sold it online to a listener, and then we did a big trip to Vegas where we had listeners come and we did a trip to go see Magic Mike Live in Vegas, and we used that money to pay for a party bus to Magic Mike Live from our hotel. So that was just perfect—we used our sex toy money to pay for the party bus.
Posey: Fucking epic weekend.
You have so many other projects, between your comedy and your other podcasts (I haven’t listened to Babstinence yet, but I love the name). How do you guys manage to balance that and have time for yourselves?
Posey: We spend a lot of time talking about Google Calendar.
Gray: That is the good thing about doing it for 10 years—it is a well-oiled machine at this point. We know what we’re doing, we get it done, and it does take a lot of time, obviously, but it’s like any other job at this point.
Barker: And we look really far out ahead of time. We have a pretty strict calendar that we all share, and we also have an amazing producer who’s really awesome at keeping an eye on everything. But yeah, Google Calendar is really the key.
So of all the guests you’ve had over the years, who’s surprised you the most?
Posey: Every 100 episodes we have on French Stewart, who’s a person that Babs had a crush on in high school, and to have seen our relationship with him evolve over time is a real treat to have seen because like, we just had him on. Tess knew somebody who was in a play with him and that’s how we got him initially on the show, and we just hit it off. We knew it was gonna be fun, but then we hit it off so hard with him. And we’re like, Oh, you’re the exact kind of person that fits into our little weirdo family. We’ve repeated him the most of anybody, and we take him on adventures every 100 episodes, and that relationship has deepened over time. It’s just been a very, very fun, delightful surprise.
Barker: I would also say the boys that we’ve welcomed in. Ryan Nemeth, who’s our resident hunk, he’s someone who—we had this idea for a sketch at UCB and we needed a wrestler type, and I kind of knew this wrestler on Twitter. He couldn’t do it, but his brother could. And this guy Ryan shows up and he’s just so funny and good at improv and sketch comedy and hilarious and down to take off his shirt and get a spray tan and whatever. We’re like, We just have to incorporate you in anything live that we ever do. And we pretty much have since then. We just meant for him to do a one-off sketch with us, and we basically just adopted him and he’s gone on—he now has like this amazing, thriving wrestling career. But he still does our shows.
Gray I think it’s really fun when you have someone on who’s a big name and you’re kind of nervous, and then they’re just the most chill, cool person. We’ve had that experience quite a few times. Like Margaret Cho, the first time we ever did her show we just went to her house and her boyfriend opened up the door and he had a Planned Parenthood shirt on and we’re like, We love you already. We smoked her weed that was named after her. And just like, she’s this incredible superstar but she was so chill and laid back and fun. That’s been a fun experience, to meet some of those people who you really look up to and they’re just like down for the hang.
Posey: And I think—to toot our own horn with that, too—the number of shows that we’ve done that afterwards people we’re meeting on Zoom or in person or on camera for the first time are just like, This is the best podcast I’ve done, I had a lot of fun with you guys. So we also have had people that would otherwise be a bit more professional let their guard down, they very quickly feel comfortable. And then they’re like, Oh, yeah, I could kick it with you guys for an hour. This is really fun. That’s been a nice thing to hear from a lot of strangers that don’t feel like strangers.
Clearly you guys work so well on the podcast together, so can you tell me your favorite things about the other two?
Gray: I mean jeez, how do you sum this stuff up?
Posey: Barbara is such a vulnerable person and I have learned a lot from her. I can be a bit more guarded and I’m very inspired by how much she’s willing to share with people. That just shows such a strength that I think is really beautiful to see. It has been inspiring to me. And Tess is just such a balls-to-the-wall fucking Aries bitch that will just go for it. So much of the forward momentum of where we’ve gone as a show has been Tess being like, Fuck it, we’ll figure it out. And then we do, but that confidence in herself to push us to the next place I think is such an important element of the three of us. We’re very fucking different people and it’s really great to learn and be inspired by everybody.
Gray: I feel like Brandie is the glue that keeps us together. Back in the day we would make fun of how we lost our debit cards in multiple states, and Brandie had to drive us there to wait for the bar to open so we could get our debit cards back. But like in many, many ways she has been the glue that holds us together and always just makes me laugh so fucking hard, pulling these one-liners. Sometimes since it’s a bunch of us, all of us are talking at once and so I’ll just hear Brandie slip this thing underneath that fucking kills me. And then Tess is just such a badass and so herself and just leans into who she is. She’s so many things, she is a renaissance woman. But she also plays up being a basic bitch and loving that and that’s what I love about her so much. She doesn’t apologize for who she is at all.
Barker: That’s one thing I really love about both Babs and Brandie, too, is they’re just so exactly who they are and so proud and just fill their personalities so beautifully and are so unapologetic and both so big-hearted. I think that’s what makes it so easy to podcast with both of them is they’re just very present and there with you and open to literally everyone. Brandie is just so thoughtful and passionate and someone who really—unlike myself—thinks before she talks and is a very loyal, dependable person. And Babs is just so beautiful in so many ways. I love just how raw she is and how much she shows her genuine self, how willing she is to open up her messy car door and show you what’s in there.
Gray: Literally, our messy cars.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast and Paste’s assistant comedy editor. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.