Broad City sits down with us to talk about working 24/7, Hillary and why slutty is good
Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson are back with a third season of their hit show and are telling us all about it. (Spoiler: Things are looking good for Ilana and Lincoln.)
By Carla Sosenko|
When I walk into the Chelsea studio where we’re shooting the comedy powerhouse duo behind Broad City, I’m immediately greeted by half of it: Ilana Glazer. She shakes my hand and says, “Thank you for having us.” “Thank you…for having us,” I awkwardly stammer, and suddenly I’m Abbi in that episode in which she’s trying to flirt with Jeremy but instead ends up faking a call from her laundry guy and ranting about the stains on her underwear. I’m nervous, because even though they play bumbling and weird onscreen, Glazer and her counterpart, Abbi Jacobson, are actually stars. Maybe stars who seem just like us—their Broad City alter egos are youngish New Yorkers struggling to make a buck, get laid and have as much fun as possible at all times—but stars nonetheless. At the time of our interview, Comedy Central has just picked up two more seasons of their lovely little show that could, and news of a season-three Hillary Clinton cameo has set the blogosphere ablaze. I spent the night before watching the first episode of the new season (okay, watching it three times, because it’s fucking hilarious) and trying to prepare to not geek out in their presence.
Abbi Jacobson: We’ve done interviews leading up to the third season, but no one’s seen the episodes yet. You’re the first!
That’s so cool! And you guys talk about Time Out New York in the first episode. Ilana Glazer: We truly, truly love Time Out.
We truly love you guys! So, speaking of the third season, congrats on getting signed on the fourth and fifth already. How does that feel? Jacobson: It’s something we were really hoping for, obviously. The show’s going to be at least five seasons. That’s a show. Like, that could be the whole show. It’s like, “Oh my God, I have a job for two more seasons.” Glazer: The conversation started with us being like, “Hey, we’d love to write two seasons at once,” because the writing makes us peel our skin off—it is so hard. Jacobson: Love/hate. Glazer: We are just like a pile of skin. Jacobson: I love it when it’s over. Writing is definitely the hardest part; we find ourselves at the end of the season, finally getting in the groove of writing, and then it’s over.
Season three picks up right after “St. Marks,” last season’s finale, and then you go through the whole year in one ongoing sequence of scenes in the bathroom. It’s kind of amazing. Jacobson: I gotta tell you, I’ve seen this cold open so many times, and every time I watch it, I see something else. Glazer: And we wrote it.
I had to watch it over and over, because I was like, “Who is Ilana with? That’s not Lincoln.” Glazer: There’s a girl. But then the other ones are Lincoln. There’s two Lincolns.
A blumpkin of Lincoln. [Editor’s note: A blumpkin is a scatological sex act you can google yourself.] Glazer: Yeah [laughs]. I know.
I had this realization earlier: I’m going to say blumpkin in an interview today. Glazer: I did have the toilet closed. Jacobson: I didn’t think it was a blumpkin. Glazer: It’s not, but people are going to think that. I love the idea that it’s a blumpkin, but I could never go near a blumpkin in my life. Jacobson: Ever. Glazer: Ever, ever. Jacobson: Any time close to someone taking a shit is not sexy. Glazer: I can’t make out in a bathroom. Jacobson: You haven’t made out in the bathroom? Glazer: I have, but I don’t love it. Just ’cause the air is filled with like piss and shit. Jacobson: It’s disgusting, but it’s also fun in a gross way, right? Glazer: Yeah, a dirty way.
This is going to seem like a weird segue, but I want to talk about Hillary Clinton. Glazer: Cool.
She’s going to be on your show, which to me feels revolutionary, because I don’t know that 10 years ago anybody like her would come near a show like yours. Glazer: She’s never done a scripted show. She’s an icon.
“For someone like [Hillary Clinton] to be on a show like ours, they’ve gotta be real careful.” —Jacobson
Photograph: Wesley Mann; Stylist: Jessica Bobince; Hair: Marcel Dagenais; Make-up: Kerrie Jordan; Special thanks to H&M
How did it come together? Jacobson: We wrote this episode where Ilana stumbles into Hillary’s campaign and is like, “Where am I?” We wrote it so that it could exist with or without Hillary, but we were like, “Fuck it, let’s just see.” We’re always like, “Fuck it, let’s just see.” That’s how we got Amy Poehler involved in the show in the first place. Glazer: We blue-sky in the beginning of the season. Just throw it out there, nothing’s stupid. So we came up with this that early on. And the whole writing season, which is so existentially dreadful, the Hillary thing was like, Could we do it? Is she gonna do it? I can’t believe we fucking got her. Jacobson: It’s such a funny juxtaposition having Ilana Wexler—not Ilana Glazer—Ilana Wexler—with Hillary. Of course that character would love Hillary Clinton. Glazer: Like, [I play a] misinformed white girl—I’ve got pencils in my buns; I just look nuts.
Is she playing it straight? Jacobson: For someone like [Hillary] to be on a show like ours, they’ve gotta be real careful. We’re not trying to have her come and be a comedic rock star. She’s playing Hillary. Glazer: It’s more about the contrast of these silly young ladies with this powerful person. Jacobson: We’re ridiculous, to her face. And that’s what was so fun.
I hesitate to ask this because it feels like a cliché, but your show is feminist and sex positive—do you feel like role models? I want my nieces to watch the show in a couple years. Glazer: Thank you. I’m getting verklempt, getting chills. Jacobson: Ultimately, comedy is the goal of it. Of course we’re trying to portray characters that are everything, which I think is important for young women to see and young men to see women be. These characters are in no way perfect. They’re flawed, they’re disgusting, they’re hilarious… Glazer: …sexy, gross. Jacobson: But it’s almost ridiculous that that’s seen as being like, “You have to see the show because there’s well-rounded women.”
Right. Jacobson: But that’s of course what we’re trying to do. I have nieces too, so I’m trying to be a character that I would want them to watch and be like, “I would never do that,” or “I want to do that,” or “Oh man, I want to find friends like that,” or “I want to move to the city and try and make it.” Glazer: And just like a real person, you don’t need to love everything the characters do to love them. I think women doing their jobs really well, no matter what those jobs are, is important. Basically any group that’s not white male has to perform at a higher level. And I’m like, “Challenge accepted.” Jacobson: Amy [Poehler] always described the show as being like, “Women are allowed to be knuckleheads too,” which was not everywhere. We are trying to make these women real. Glazer: Some women count themselves as a full person. Some people count themselves as full people who deserve to be heard, and some don’t. And maybe we take it for granted that we feel our voices should be heard, but it’s surprising sometimes when [someone’s] like, “Wow, wow, wow, I can’t believe the gals are horny on the show.”
I feel like, whether intentionally or not, you guys are also upending the stereotype of the Jewish girl, which as a Jewish girl from Long Island, I appreciate. Glazer: Interesting. What do you mean? Jacobson: I feel like we’re Jewish gals. Glazer: I feel like we’re the most.
Somebody at work, who’s also Jewish, made some joke the other day about how Jewish women don’t like to give blow jobs, and I was like, That is the oldest… Glazer: Wait, I thought that they do. I thought the thing was that Jewish girls are not as burdened by Catholic guilt. And that they were hornier.
“Slutty is, to me, positive—someone who likes and enjoys and pursues sex.” —Glazer
Photograph: Wesley Mann; Stylist: Jessica Bobince; Hair: Marcel Dagenais; Make-up: Kerrie Jordan; Special thanks to H&M
Really?!? Jacobson: I feel like my Jewish friends were always a little bit more advanced. They were down to clown. Glazer: They were sluttier. And slutty is, to me, positive—someone who likes and enjoys and pursues sex.
I watched the first two seasons again this week and just howled with laughter in my apartment. How confident are you when you guys are writing that you’re going to achieve that? Jacobson: I don’t think we are. Glazer: That’s why writing is so scary and hard. Jacobson: This season we doubted ourselves a lot; the writing period was very difficult. But at the end of the day, we’ve just gotta trust our instincts and go with it. And when you watch it in the edit, it’s like, if you’re laughing every time Ilana gets pulled away on the truck…
I was dying. Glazer: “I’m in the potty!” Jacobson: But then there are other parts where we watch the first cut, and we’re like, “Uh...” We gotta really get in there and massage and tweak. Glazer: In editing, we are so all over ev-er-y-thing, down to the frame. There’s like 30 frames in a second, and we’re often like, “Shave five frames.” “Shave three frames.” We are so up inside of the show itself. Jacobson: Like the street sounds, everything. Glazer: Those are jokes—the entire sound thing makes a whole new layer of jokes. Jacobson: And New York is such a big thing. The city sounds in this season, too; we play them up.
Do you think this show could happen in any other city? Glazer: Hell, no.
It feels like a weird love letter to New York. Glazer: It definitely is. Jacobson: I think it’s a shame that TV shows that are set in other cities don’t shoot there, because it would give people a true look into Philly or Chicago—even L.A. People don’t even use L.A. Glazer: Yeah, they’ll still do it on a stage. Jacobson: It’s like a bland L.A., an anywhere L.A.
You guys are stars now. How has life changed? Jacobson: This last year has been much crazier than the previous years. In New York, it’s very hit or miss. Every once in a while, someone’s like, “Hey,” or whatever. But the thing that changed the most for us is just how we work. Glazer: What do you mean? Jacobson: I think we feel more in control than ever, and that’s a big change this year. Glazer: That’s right, because the web series was like, “Can we make a body of work, and are our voices worth being heard?” And also we do work so, so much, where, personally, I don’t even party so much. You know what I mean? I’m not like, “I can’t go out anymore.” I never went out; I only went out for comedy. Jacobson: That’s a thing that’s changed—we legit kind of just work a lot. Workaholics. Glazer: That is so funny. We are like workaholics [laughs]. Jacobson: We are literally going home to finish work.
Really? Jacobson: We have this deadline for this script we’re writing [Glazer gasps], and we’re meeting tomorrow to combine and to split up something, but neither of us is finished with our parts. So tonight we have to finish our parts.
Do you usually write separately? Jacobson: We write together and separately. It depends on the deadline. So we like writing separately to make each other laugh, and then we’ll come back and rewrite both parts together. Glazer: We’ll get up to a certain point together, or alone, and then switch. It’s nice to be flexible with our process too because, uh—was second season the first season we wrote parts separately? Jacobson: I believe it was that crazy night we needed to finish a script in like a night, so we had to split it up—or else. Glazer: We worked in a very sterile office building, and one night we slept up there, but it was not set up for it. Jacobson: So we slept on the floor, and it was such a teeny office that Ilana wrote a note for the cleaning woman or man: “We’re okay, we’re sleeping.”
Aww. Glazer: There was no couch. We were on the floor, just kind of in coffin pose. Jacobson: We had sweatshirts over our faces because there were no drapes or anything. Glazer: And we came back to the room in the same clothes we were in yesterday. We were ridiculous.
What’s it like to watch your show when it airs? Glazer: Oh my God, it’s just a trip to watch it. Jacobson: We like to watch them live. It’s not any different than the last cut we did, but there’s something about knowing that people are finally seeing it. And, like, literally a year goes into those 10 weeks. Glazer: And then you see reviews and people tweeting about it. It’s so exciting. Jacobson: It’s crazy. It’s such a weird-cool time to be having something on TV. It’s interactive. Whenever they tweet about it, it’s crazy to see; it’s immediate. Glazer: I’m so excited for people to see these specific episodes but also excited for the world to have 50 percent more Broad City. If it weren’t my show, I would want more episodes out, and I’m so excited that there will be. Because it’s hard during the gap.
I think people miss you when you’re not on. Glazer: I wish we could make them faster.
Broad City’s third season premieres February 17 at 10pm on Comedy Central.