If you haven’t checked out the unhinged, gleeful nihilism of Adult Swim’s Three Busy Debras, you’re in luck—Season 1 is streaming on HBO Max and Season 2 premieres April 24.
In anticipation, creators, writers, producers and actors Sandy Honig (starring as Debra), Alyssa Stonoha (starring as Debra), and Mitra Jouhari (starring as Debra) hosted a very Debra brunch, complete with initialed milk bottles, jars of lemon curd, stylized Debra necklaces, and plenty of lemons.
Before I sat down with the three Debras to find out exactly how Debra Season 2 is bound to be, Honig, Stonoha and Jouhari graciously asked if I had any preemptive questions.
“Well,” I responded, “My main question is probably one I should save for the interview, but, in Episode 4 of Season 2, when Alyssa is being a terrible husband to Mitra—”
“Yes, she was terrible,” Jouhari exclaimed, then pointed at me. “Ally!”
We all laughed, and in this moment the camaraderie between Honig, Jouhari and Stonoha really came through. They’re not just creative partners; the three genuinely enjoy each other’s company.
Finishing my line of questioning, I described Alyssa putting her hands squarely on the table in the Season 2 episode, then turned to Stonoha to say, “You’re double-jointed!”
“I am?!” Stonoha said and looked at her co-creators in fascination before turning her attention back to me. “You know more about my body than I do.”
“Ooh,” Jouhari added, smiling slyly.
And on that beautiful note, let’s get into Paste’s formal interview with the powerhouse creators and stars of Three Busy Debras.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Paste: What we were talking about earlier when I helped Alyssa discover that she’s double jointed—Season 2, Episode 4: you did a kind of send up of A Streetcar Named Desire. So, how often do you have mid-century modern sex dreams about each other?
Honig: I would say it’s more often mid-century sex nightmares.
Stonoha: I have had a dream before that I was pregnant with the both of you [motions to Honig and Jouhari] like I had twins.
Stonoha: And it was each of you as a little baby. You were inside. [places hands on stomach] That’s all I really remember. Just me holding my belly and being like, Sandy’s in there. And I read that it’s about, like, the literal translation of the dream is our creative baby together.
Paste: Do you think that was pre-Debra?
Stonoha: It was during—maybe while we were writing Season 1? It was definitely within the seven-year time frame of how long we’ve been doing this.
Honig: But yeah, we dream about each other a lot, though.
Jouhari: It’s true.
Stonoha: Sandy has a lot of nightmares about Debras.
Honig: But it’s not about the show. It’s about the play that we used to do. And it’s always that we’re being asked to put it on again. We’ve never rehearsed it. And I haven’t looked at the script. And we’re about to go on. And I don’t remember anything.
Jouhari: Interesting point because, not you guys, I’m really the one that forgets the lines.
Paste: So are you, like, an improv queen?
All three: [peals of laughter]
Jouhari: I think, more, I’m just a bad memorizer.
Stonoha: The problem with a lot of our stuff is that it’s a non-sequitur. So there’s no solid cues.
Jouhari: It’s never responding to the thing that’s being said, right?
Honig: It’s just sort of like I say a sentence and then you say a sentence and then you say something random and then we all say something together.
Jouhari: Yeah, and then usually I forget one of those.
All three: [more peals of laughter]
Paste: I did love that moment of feminism in the first season where you were like, “I’m cheating on my husband!” and everyone applauded.
Honig: [laughs] Women should be allowed to be proud of that.
Paste: Kind of like Ali Wong talking about cheating on her husband in her latest special.
All three: [gasp and look at each other with wide eyes]
Paste: Oh, no! She hasn’t done it—I’m not spreading rumors! The whole thing is women in comedy have it so hard because guys in comedy get “reward p***y,” compared to what women get.
Honig: She’s so good. Have you read her book?
Paste: Not yet. I’m leaving here with book recommendations! What was your creative process like for Season 2? I noticed more violence. Were you thinking, “I want it like Season 1 but amped up?”
Jouhari: Every first season of a show, you’re learning how to make the show, and I think everything about Season 2 is heightened—the writing, the visuals, all that kind of stuff. The violence is turned up, everything is turned up, emotions are turned up—interpersonal conflict, relationships with each other as a trio within the show.
Honig: First season we were figuring out who the characters are, how to present that. I feel like a lot of the first season was setting the stage for what each of the Debras are. And then the other thing that was awesome was that….we’ve never really worked with a big production before. And we didn’t know there was such a thing as a stunt coordinator.
On the first season, we had this amazing stunt coordinator, Alex, and then it was, you know, writing Season 2, we were like, “Oh, we can write things that we know he can do. And we can just write more for how amazing our crew is.”
Stonoha: Spoiler alert: we wanted to make one of the Debras fly through the ceiling. Production was like, “You can use a dummy for that.” And it’s funnier! We can make all this crazy stuff happen—you just had to find the creative way to do it, which our group in Seattle knows how to do.
Jouhari: From our [stage] play, we learned how to do everything practically. Physically, everything has to happen in the mental space. We shot our original pilot, there was a moment where we’re really dirty and the three of us were like, We’ll just go outside and stick our hands in the dirt, and everyone was like, I can paint your finger. Don’t stick your hands in dirt.
Oh, really? Because I brought this back! [pantomimes extracting dirt from pockets]
And in this season we approach things a little differently. In the first season, at least for me—Mitra’s been in a ton of writer’s rooms before—but it was my first time in a writer’s room and I didn’t really know how TV writing worked. And we wrote all of the stories and everything together. Moving into Season 2, I wanted to take on more leadership roles and do more of the producing. So Mitra ran the room for the second season and has a ton of experience with how an actual writer’s room works, and you have a board with the Post-It cards. I don’t—
Stonoha: Sandy had never heard of index cards.
Honig: I had never heard of index cards. [Laughter from all] But breaking the story together and then sending us off to write the episode was a really cool way to just switch up the way that we had been doing things.
Jouhari: We all had these new jobs, in a sense. Sandy directed her first episode this season.
Paste: So was that your first time directing?
Honig: Yeah—I mean, I’ve done sketches and a few little things, but it was my first directed show. I was really scared that I would mess everything up. But it turned out okay.
Jouhari: It turned out great.
Stonoha: Who knows how to direct the Debras better than the Debras?
Jouhari: Basically, it was like the visual voice on the show.
Honig: Came up with all of the wardrobe, ideas for set design, props, like how everything should look.
Paste: And then, of course, because it was originally based on these Connecticut housewives—that must’ve played a big influence into that visual structure. Alyssa, you mentioned earlier that it’s kind of ubiquitous—all over—instead of just this particular Connecticut housewife?
Honig: I’m going to make a controversial statement—I’m going to set the record straight. When we did our pilot, it was based in Connecticut, and then when we moved into making the show, we decided to make it not Connecticut. But because they already said Connecticut, everyone thinks it’s Connecticut. But you know what? It’s just Lemoncurd.
Season 2 of Three Busy Debras premieres April 24 on Adult Swim. Catch Season 1, now streaming on HBO Max, to prepare.
Brooke Knisley is a freelance journalist and comedy writer. She has balance issues. Let her harass you on Twitter @BrookeKnisley.