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Comedians Kate Berlant and Jacqueline Novak on the Healing Power of Friendship — Interview

Novak: I think the joke of our friendship dynamic is anxious-avoidant. Kate is anxious about getting lunch dates on the books, which makes me avoidant. She feels me resisting and she goes harder to lock down the lunch. [But] Poog has solved any issues around that dynamic because Kate is now built in to my week.

Berlant: Let’s just say I text you something and you don’t respond. I’m fine.

Novak: You know I love you. You know it’s coming.

Berlant: I know if I’m having a breakdown or a full thing, you’ll be there. If I text you something and you don’t text back, I’m not like, “Bitch!”

Novak: I try to communicate to people that if it’s an emotional emergency, tell me, and then I’ll be on instantly. I’ll drop everything. It’s confusing when it’s all mixed together and every text or phone call is given this same weight of obligation. I also keep coming back to, as an adult, if it’s not working out naturally with someone, why maintain it? We’re not trapped in a school system.

Berlant: The shared understanding of each other’s limits and an encouragement not to resist them. I’m not even sure I should be saying this, but…yesterday I was microdosing on mushrooms and was getting very moved by my friendship with Jacqueline.

Novak: She’s lying around being moved.

Berlant: I FaceTimed her being like, “If she doesn’t pick up, that’s completely fine.” When she picked up, I was so overwhelmed with joy.

Novak: I believe you were on the floor, writhing between cat and cow [poses]. I think a friendship is almost like a space that you occupy with someone. We have our room. And we do certain things in our room.

Berlant: That is a fucking genius way to approach all relationships. We need different rooms for different people!

Novak: I guess the podcast is us broadcasting from the room, a room with skin care and books mixed in with equal enthusiasm. If you were just my critical theory friend, that wouldn’t be as fun.

Berlant: [Laughs] That’s part of Poog. It allows us to talk about existential crises, while being anchored in the uncomplicated and unintellectual reality of serum.

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