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Broad City interview: ‘When people use comedienne, I’m so surprised, sometimes I’ll laugh.’

Broad City’s Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson chat about blowing up the boys’ club—and why this city is the best place to do it

Written by
Tom Brink

Ask a friend about the Comedy Central series Broad City, and you’ll likely be hit with something along the lines of “so fucking good, right?” Right. The brainchild of stars Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the web series turned television show follows the mishaps of two broke twentysomethings in Brooklyn—and has seriously caught on here. During a break from editing the second season, the duo stopped by our offices to get (sort of) serious about ladies in comedy.

On word choice:
Ilana Glazer: We just hosted this thing in Toronto, and one comic said, “Women are so annoying.” Really, dude? What fucking year is it?
Abbi Jacobson: Oh my God, I also fucking hate the word comedienne. I don’t even like actress.
Glazer: It halves the meaning.
Jacobson: A writer-ess? Why does writer have no gender, but actor has a gender? What is that?
Glazer: I can’t even with actress. But when people use comedienne, I’m so surprised, sometimes I’ll laugh.

On boys and girls:
Jacobson: I definitely relate so much to a lot of women in comedy, but I don’t love segregating the genders. I’m just as influenced by male comedians as I am female comedians.
Glazer: I think it’s an important point to be made. There’s almost a perversion around it.
Jacobson: The biggest struggle we have with [being women in comedy] is talking about it. If we saw this magazine with all male comedians, it would be like, What?
Jacobson: I feel like comedy had a boys’-club label when we were starting.
Glazer: Mmm hmm.
Jacobson: I definitely don’t feel that right now. No way.
Glazer: In a bigger picture, all over the world is a boys’ club.
Jacobson: Yes, but in terms of people creating stuff, it’s not a boys’ club.

On NYC, baby:
Glazer: Bringing it back to New York, I know it’s so gross and it smells like shit and walking across town today was so disgusting in the rain and it’s so impossible in so many ways, but it is like an intellectual utopia. You don’t get that in L.A. It is more of a boys’ club there. What was that show called there? With the agents?
Glazer: Yeah, it’s very Entourage. Everyone in New York is fluid and thinking and inspiring each other.
Jacobson: Even the stories about the art movements, [when] people flocked here. All the artists were friends with each other. People always romanticize those times, but I really feel like right now, because of the digital aspect, people are doing really different stuff that you could only do in New York.
Glazer: Everywhere you turn, somebody’s doing something new. Just seeing them do their own projects is so inspiring. It’s also like [if] you have nine friends from home [and] you’re the one out of 10 who has the views that you do, of course, you move to New York. We should be moving to the suburbs of Bumblefuck.
Jacobson: Let’s all huddle up and then say, “Let’s spread out and change!”
Glazer: [Laughs] Even if we spread out for, like, five years to the rest of the country and are ambassadors of the city.
Jacobson: We’ll go, and we’ll get killed by all the guns.
Glazer: [Laughs] New York is progressive, so we might be over it all. The big picture is a boys’ club but not in New York. I’m glad that our perspective exists at all and that we have a whole city to play in.

Id Isn’t Always Pretty: An Evening with Broad City is at the Paley Center for Media November 9. Broad City returns in January.

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