Friends from stand-up comedy join forces on Freeform show
Despite the title, the actor-writer-comedians who star in a new series aren’t alone in it, since the show has earned a second season even before premieres.
Freeform aims for a different type of humor as Esther Povitsky and Benji Aflalo are teamed in the debut of “Alone Together” Wednesday, Jan. 10. Their on-screen alter egos mirror their real-life relationship as friends who are dissimilar, yet united by their rather skeptical view of life in Los Angeles and the general world around them. The Lonely Island, the company that includes Andy Samberg (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Saturday Night Live”) among its principals, executive-produces the show along with the stars.
Povitsky explains that she and Aflalo met at The Comedy Store, “which was, at the time, very much like the Island of Misfit Toys. It’s very popular now, but it was not that way eight or nine years ago. It was always really empty, kind of like this club that was just for the comedians who were there. There weren’t really audience members, no one was really running it, and it was kind of a mess. It really attracted people like Benji and me, who wanted a place where we could just do comedy and have fun.”
Aflalo adds that after a year of knowing each other, “we became close friends and we made a couple of sketches together, and every now and then, we’d go on stage together. Sometimes, I would host an Open Mic Night and Esther would host it with me.” Also among the duo’s tandem projects was a digital short subject, which became the basis for “Alone Together.”
“We’d had so many crazy experiences together,” says Povitsky, “and we were at a party for a friend of ours and just running around it together. People picked up on it and thought it was really funny, and someone just said to us, ‘You guys are a show.’ I think it was something we had always felt, but hearing someone who was a little more experienced say it to us, we decided that night that we were going to try this.”
Aflalo notes that “it took a really long time” to get from that evening to the actual sale of the series: “We were like, ’We don’t need a script, we have an outline! We’re funny!’ We had no experience in this, so it was a tough process, but it helped to have a partner there. We helped each other a lot.”
Having also had individual pursuits in recent years — Povitsky has appeared on such shows as “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “New Girl,” and Aflalo wrote for Comedy Central “Roasts” of Justin Bieber and James Franco – the duo allows that they’ve benefited from seeing how other comedy stars operate within a series realm.
“People like Rachel Bloom and Nikki Glaser really set a great example for how to be when you have your own show,” Povitsky reflects. ‘They’re just really smart and talented, and it’s helpful to be around people like that, for sure.”