Sure, you’ve heard of being ghosted, but what about being ticked? Cocooned? Pied-pipered? Fogo de Chão-ed? If you’re lost, never fear. Comedians Ayo Edebiri and Rachel Sennott conjured up these hilarious dating trends in the first installment of their surreal new digital series for Comedy Central, Ayo and Rachel Are Single, a heightened portrayal of romance (or the lack thereof) in the 21st century.
“Obviously there are negative truths in places that like, inspired us,” Edebiri tells me over the phone, but the pair agree that any of the predictably angry YouTube commenters who are upset about how they’re portraying men have obviously missed the point. A bit more alarming are the viewers who relate all too much to their characters’ problems, like when fictional Ayo is conveniently “time tabled” by a man (comic Petey DeAbreu) for dates on Tuesdays at 3pm so he can see more women (“It’s how Virgos do booty calls,” Rachel explains in the video).
Sennott says, “Yeah, every now and then someone will be like, ‘This exactly happened to me.’ And it’s like, ‘Uh, this specific thing should happen to no one.’ ”
The two are both still dating—sort of—under quarantine.
“Right now I’m reaching a breaking point where every time a guy texts me my whole body feels physically exhausted,” Sennott admits, but says that before she was enjoying sending zoomed-in pictures of her face over Instagram as her own idiosyncratic way of flirting.
“I feel like I’ve just had to, like, retrain my brain, where I’m like, okay watching a movie at the same time, that’s sex. When you both play the New York Times spelling bee and you both get genius, that’s sex,” Edebiri jokes. “If you both accidentally make Annie’s white cheddar mac n cheese at the same time, thats—that’s an engagement party. That’s intimacy in its highest form. People making that for dinner without consulting each other? Pretty cool.”
And yes, that did actually happen to her.
Dating anecdotes aside (Edebiri recalls the time she accidentally went on a first date on a guy’s birthday—“I had like, hives after that moment”), the conversation showcases just how much of a cornerstone their friendship is in the series.
“More than the show being about dating, I feel like for us it’s about us being like two very dysfunctional friends who are—who both have anxiety that operates in very different ways,” Edebiri explains.
The pair describe their meeting in college at NYU fairly nebulously. They both did comedy so they ran in the same circles, inevitably bumping into each other at parties and eventually working on a girl’s sketch together. It was Sennott who initially encouraged Edebiri—whose main comedy background is improv—to give stand-up a try.
“I’d, like, gone to mics before, and I was like, this does not sound fun, and then Rachel was like, ‘You’re doing this whether or not you like it,’ ” Edebiri recalls.
“Toxic and abusive,” Sennott says with a laugh.
Since then, they’ve both risen quickly in the entertainment world, with Sennott recently announced by Deadline as a series regular on the Kyra Sedgwick-starring TV show My Village and Edebiri working on Netflix’s upcoming animated comedy series Mulligan, from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Edebiri has also worked on the NBC comedy Sunnyside and keeps busy on her Forever Dog podcast Iconography, while Sennott’s additional acting credits include Shiva Baby and High Maintenance, among others.
One of their favorite parts of doing Ayo and Rachel Are Single was integrating their comedy mentors and friends into the episodes, including Jaboukie Young-White (aka the Robin Hood of Twitter) and The Unofficial Expert podcast host Sydnee Washington in the latest installment.
“It makes such a difference to have really funny people for stuff like that, you know what I mean? For every little beat,” Sennott says.
It’s a meandering conversation, and Edebiri thankfully graces me with an exit strategy: “I have requested that the end quote is, imagine me and Rachel both like arms folded, back to back with like, snapbacks backwards like we’re in the poster for a sitcom from 2001 that aired on UPN for half of a season before being violently pulled on air.”
As much as I adore that image, ending with it would be laziness on my part. Instead, picture this: two talented comedians on opposite sides of the country, frantically texting each other when it comes time to share their project and, despite their distance, finding solace in each other. They may both have been performing for years, but make no mistake; Ayo and Rachel Are Single is just the beginning of what you’ll see from Edebiri and Sennott.
Clare Martin is a cemetery enthusiast, hibernophile and contributing writer for Paste’s music and comedy sections. She also exercises her love for reality TV at HelloGiggles every now and then. Go harass her on Twitter @theclaremartin.