Benito Skinner and Mary Beth Barone's Obsessed Podcast Was Born From Toxic Stan Culture
In our Q&A series Last Call, we get down to the bottom of every last thing with some of our favorite celebs – from the last time they were starstruck to the last song they listened to. This week, Benito Skinner and Mary Beth Barone take our call.
After connecting at a comedy show in 2019 and later teaming up for a sketch where Jonathan Van Ness plays Jesus, comedians Benito Skinner and Mary Beth Barone were destined to be inseparable. “I think we both were really attracted to each other’s sets,” Benito shared with POPSUGAR. “I was obsessed with her and her comedy, and also just her as a person.” Benito, who goes by the username bennydrama7, amassed a following online for his spot-on impersonations of celebrities and spoofs of fan-favorite TV shows, while Mary Beth is an NY-based comedian who has been featured on The Tonight Show and Comedy Central.
Now, the duo get to share their love for each other and whatever they’re currently obsessing over on their Spotify podcast, Obsessed. “I think Benito and I both come from toxic stan culture, where we just love to talk about things that we love,” Mary Beth explained. “We can talk about something more serious at times, but also, the obsessions aren’t [always] a singular thing. Sometimes, it could be more of a concept,” Benito said. “It just felt natural to talk about things that we are obsessed with and maybe more niche things that people might not know about like a makeup tutorial where the host talks about true crime or a video of the Titanic sinking in real time,” Mary Beth added. “We just kind of wanted to cover these corners of culture that maybe people weren’t talking about.”
“It just felt natural to talk about things that we are obsessed with and maybe more niche things that people might not know about.” – Mary Beth Barone
What’s most exciting for the friends, at least as far as comedy is concerned, is how they’re helping change the industry. “I feel like now, there’s so many more female and LGBTQ+ identifying comedians who are really taking ownership of their careers,” Mary Beth said. “I do also think there’s been a huge shift in what people are allowing comedians to say. It’s a really sensitive time for a lot of people. I don’t think it’s bad that people are being more careful and thoughtful about what they’re saying and the potential people that it could hurt or communities that it could hurt.” Benito also added, “I feel it’s important that we’re taking over a lot of those spaces and we’re doing a pretty good job. I love the comedy that’s coming out of it, which is really fun. ”
Of course, talking about the pair’s obsessions wouldn’t be complete without expanding upon Benito’s celebrity impressions. The creator is perhaps best known for his Kardashian spoofs. “Kourtney is really fun to do just because I’ve spent a really long time consuming Kardashian content, but also just doing that voice took a bit and I love doing that,” he revealed. As for who he actively avoids impersonating, it all has to do with whether he finds them interesting. “I feel it’s fun to take an impression and then tell a story with it and build another world around maybe someone’s internet persona or something like that. If I’m not actively interested, it’s going to come through and I’ll probably do more of a stereotypical impression.” Before you check out Obsessed, which is now streaming on Spotify, you can read Benito and Mary Beth’s Last Call interview ahead.
What was the last day recording Obsessed like?
Mary Beth Barone: We can’t be in the studio, so you have to turn your AC off too because you want to not mess with the sound. So not only are you sweating, but you’re furiously typing and touching these knobs to try to figure out what’s broken. So I think it can get high stress, but on days when no tech goes wrong, it’s truly the most enjoyable experience.
Benito Skinner: It kind of became my saving grace during the pandemic because I got to see my best friend every week and talk about things that I was excited to talk about. And there was such a peaceful place in it. Also, it’s so fun to not edit something.
What is the last thing you were obsessed with?
MBB: I can go first because right now, I’m experiencing my first journey with Love Island (UK). Right now, I’m obsessed with Teddy on Love Island, who I think is one of the best people I’ve seen on reality TV. Genuinely seems like a good person, and I just hope he comes off the show and receives all the love that he deserves.
BS: I’m obsessed with Glow Up on Netflix. It’s a makeup reality competition show. I watched about six episodes last night. The hosts are so iconic. There’s this one, Val [Garland], but she does this thing where if someone does a really good job, she goes, “That’s a ding dong.” It literally is changing my body chemistry. I love it so much.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
BS: I did meet Cameron Diaz, and I was a little starstruck for a sec, and her eyes are really pools. They are ocean eyes, and she’s heavenly. I didn’t really know what to say at first, so then I just immediately started asking questions about The Holiday. One time when I was somewhere in New York, Rihanna walked by, and my hands started to shake. And everyone’s talking about how she smells because of the perfume launching. She smells so good, it was like coconut and cinnamon had entered the stratosphere. She is like an aura.
MBB: The last time I was starstruck was probably when I met Charli XCX. I’ve been a fan for so long. You know when someone’s an idea in your head, you don’t think they’re actually tangible, but when you meet them and they’re the nicest person. I’ve had actual nightmares about meeting Katy Perry and Amy Schumer. In my sleep, I’ve dreamt that I met them and they were mean to me. So I’m very cautious about meeting my heroes. So that to me, I felt very starstruck.
What is the last song you listened to?
BS: I just listened to “Bunny Is a Rider” by . . .
MBB: Wait, same.
BS: By Caroline Polachek. That was my shower song this morning. And I was just like, “I’m so nonphysical.”
MBB: It’s so good.
BS: Yeah, she’s incredible. She really is. Wow, I love that we have the same answer. Obsessed. Best friends.
What is the last show you binge-watched?
BS: Outer Banks, season two. I’m a John B-head. I absolutely love that show. It’s like National Treasure meets The O.C.. Yeah, I’m obsessed.
MBB: OK, I actually haven’t binged a show in a while, but the one that I’m almost done binging is The Crown. That’s been a huge commitment and ultimately very rewarding.
What is the last thing you did for self-care?
MBB: I put makeup on today, knowing that I was going to be on Zoom. I’m like, “OK, well,” because I don’t want to feel bad after we hang up. So I was like, “I’m going to put paint on my face, then I won’t feel so bad.”
BS: I took a bath last night because sometimes the internet is exhausting. I kind of have a small bath. My kneecaps are to my chin, which I think is fun. And a lot of times I do FaceTime Mary Beth too while I’m in there.
What is the last piece of comedic advice that changed your life?
BS: I think to take a moment to really appreciate the fact that you’re up [on stage]. Obviously, I feel like it’s been a long time for a lot of us [since] being on stage. We do a show called Cruel Intentions, where we have some musicians and other comics join and we do a live reading from the iconic film. First show, it’s all adrenaline, but the second show, I kind of took a moment to think about the fact that there was a crowd there and it was communal, and we were all together, and it was really nice to be back on the stage. I think feeling grateful that we can do this and that it’s making people happy. Love that.
MBB: It’s just so hard to not feel things aren’t moving fast enough. A month ago, Calvin Klein reached out to me about being a part of their Pride campaign, and I just felt like this moment where I was like, “If I had told myself when I was first starting that I would be working with Calvin Klein, I would have been so excited and I wouldn’t have believed it.” It’s just a brand that I love so much, so I feel like it was a real moment for me to say, “No, things are moving.” Just take the time to sort of, what you said, Benny, just feel grateful and appreciate that we’ve come so far. Every project that I get to do is moving me closer to my ultimate goals.