"Broad City's" Abbi Jacobson [left] and Ilana Glazer
Tags: Q&A

“Broad City’s” Ilana Glazer: “It’s a fine line to not be annoying.”

DAME talks with the hilarious boundary-pushing best friends, Glazer and Abbi Jacobson, about getting high, Google points, and how not to be a poser.
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“It’s all sticking to me,” Abbi Jacobson says and looks down at her jeans. “These are fucking tight now.” Meanwhile Ilana Glazer, who’s facial expressions quickly and often reach cartoon-like levels of animation, has tied up her shirt and decided to take a picture of me. 

The two best friends are pleasingly similar to their much-loved Broad City characters Abbi and Ilana, just a bit more put together, as you might expect of duo who managed to create a TV show that reaches an average of 1.3 million viewers per episode. After two DIY YouTube “seasons” of Broad City, Jacobson and Glazer reached out to Amy Poehler who helped bring the stoner-girl comedy to Comedy Central, where it has reached cult obsession status after just one season. 

It's mostly because of their ineffable comedic style, which has nestled itself right into the sweet spot between absurd and relatable. In season one, Abbi and Ilana pushed the boundaries of acceptable viewing to include what might just be the first time a woman ever had her hemorrhoid examined on TV, pinpointed the transportation anxiety living within all New Yorkers as North Brother Island, and celebrated the desperation of anyone who has ever met a freak on Craigslist, and still went through with the transaction. Abbi and Ilana speak on behalf of all of us. Abbi and Ilana are all of us. Season two of Broad City premieres on Wednesday, January 14, at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Is anything on "Broad City" based off of real life?

Abbi Jacobson: The seed of everything is based off of something. Some of it is exactly what happened to one of us or the other writers, but everything is for the most part based on something.

Ilana Glazer: But it’s like, don’t make us tell you, bitch.

Is there anything that you relate to the most?

Abbi: Everything. Abbi and Ilana on the show are sort of like us before we started doing Broad City. I play 26 on the show, but it was really more me when I was 22.

Ilana: Broad City in real life gave us so much drive and purpose that these characters are much more aimless than we were. Broad City is like the New-York-slash-life-agitation of “Ugh, god I just want to be there already!” Whether that’s existential or literal, I relate to that agitation. It’s very New York, but it’s also just very life—being agitated about dumb shit when you should be so grateful for all the shitty things.

Abbi: And how you never know. Every episode is a day, for the most part, and how you start with one little thing and then it spins completely out of your control and you end up somewhere you never thought you would—in New York.

Like North Brother Island.

Ilana: This boy in my building was like, “Are you from Broad City?” And I was like, “Yes.” He was like, “North Brother Island kept me watching for the rest of the season.” I was like, “Fuck yes, dude.” North Brother Island is the experience. If you live in New York, you get that. In New York everything is about transportation so I feel like they get it. You can’t just drive to the post office. You’re still like, Oh my god—planes, trains, and automobiles to get there.

After watching that episode I found out North Brother Island actually exists.

Ilana: Yes! They exiled people there. We’re very into Google points—things that people can Google after or during the show. It’s very exciting to me.

What else is a Google point?

Ilana: Albert Nobbs will be in season two.

Abbi: I don’t know if our demographic generally knows Judith Light.

Ilana: Exactly. That’s perfect. They’re like, “What?” And we’re like, “Judith Light is hot!”

What brought you two together?

Abbi: We were on the same improv team and the first practice was us and four guys. I, no joke, thought that Ilana was Maeby from Arrested Development for the entire class. I didn’t even know her name. I was just like, Maeby is on my team. We went out to a bar afterwards and she’s like, “We have mutual friends.” I was like, It’s not [Maeby], she’s Ilana!

Ilana: I just thought Abbi was Abbi and I loved her. We were on the practice team because we couldn’t make it on any of the house teams. It was a lot of work for very little immediate return and it was very Broad City—that sort of agitation.

Is that why it started as a YouTube series?

Abbi: It wouldn’t have happened any other way for us. For three years we were trying—and that’s not even a long time to try to be an actor—but we were like, we’re not just going to get cast in things.

What were you auditioning for?

Abbi: I was auditioning for commercials, films, different teams, and it just wasn’t catching. I was like, Fuck this I’m good. Let’s just do this.

Why was this the story you wanted to tell?

Ilana: We just found our friendship funny. We have more in common in real life than on the show, but those differences made us laugh. It was very sisterly where it’s like, “Well, we’ve been in this situation what’re we going to do? Argue?” For us it’s just like, no worries, we’re good no matter what and that was funny to us. Also, just the distinct differences in our opinions. There was this moment where it was like, Maybe it could be about us or something? And then it was like, Yeah, it could be.

What are some of the differences?

Abbi: I play a more conservative character than I am in real life, but I am more conservative than Ilana in real life. Ilana’s not as crazy as she is in the show, but she’s wilder than me.

Ilana: In the second season especially, but you see in the first season, Abbi goes nuts. Starting from a more conservative character she has a further way to go. You’re like, Actually, this bitch is wild!

You’re both pretty wild on the show. It’s great that you make the stoner girl a mainstream character.

Abbi: I think it’s just a truth that girls smoke as much as guys smoke.

Ilana: But it definitely is a thing for girls to buy and hold and really own it—to have a joint and a one hitter. To own it and embody it is the thing.

Do you smoke in life as much as you do on the show?

Abbi: I don’t smoke as much as I used to. I’ve been going progressively down. In high school I smoked much more, but we’re so busy. I smoke at night. I’m more of a social smoker. Ilana still smokes so much.

Ilana: Throughout the day we can’t smoke when we work. People ask us, “Do you smoke when you write?” We’re like, “No.” And when you film? “No way!” We have so many people to answer to. That’s something that I’m attracted to though—productive stonerness. Lil’ Wayne is like, “I’m the most productive stoner I know.”

Are you a productive stoner?

Ilana: I think it helps me get stuff done. I was FaceTiming the other day with the guy who plays Bevers while I was high and cleaning and he was watching me like, “That’s some high-octane puttering around!”

Is there anything you’re scared to talk about on TV?

Abbi: There are things we don’t need to talk about.

Ilana: We want to talk about stuff that we can relate to so that we’re not posers.

Abbi: If we have no idea about something we can’t really write about it. Like experiences we’ve never experienced.

Ilana: Like being a non-white woman at a job interview. That’s a funny joke that some white girl thinks she knows, but we would never attempt to sincerely comment on something that we don’t know genuinely about.

Abbi: And if we do, then we’re purposefully naïve about it.

You’ve created a funny, safe space where white girls can rap.

Ilana: It’s a fine line to not be annoying. We try to be as little annoying as possible. It’s like Miley, who I like, but it’s also like, Ok.

Where will you take season two?

Abbi: We’re going deep.

Ilana: It’s true. At the end of the first season it starts going off in this direction where you’re like, Whoa, that’s weird and it just keeps going and going. It’s like the same, but more. We’re breaking more rules.