Broad City, Ain’t No Basic (Cable) Bitches

If the girls from Broad City, Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, aren’t on your radar already, they should be. We chopped it up with Comedy Central’s hilarious new duo for Issue #54 of Mass Appeal. Check out the excerpt below for some answers we couldn’t squeeze into the book.

Broadcity_for mass appeal abbi jacobson and ilana glazer
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Words by Howie Abrams Photos by Peter Yang

These two broads walk into an improv class in NYC…We’re talkin’ straight up theater geeks. A couple of chicks who, without even realizing it, intimidated the shit out of all the boys with their few-fucks-given attitude, and laser-focused determination. Their brand of funny is on another level. It’s easy to be surprised by what flies out of their mouths sometimes. What’s more surprising is the level of confidence and positivity housed within these two ladies. Surprising only because — while they demonstrate the poise of a couple of seasoned comedic television vets — it’s all still pretty new to them. Ladies and germs — please meet Pennsylvania native Abbi Jacobson, and Smithtown, Long Island’s Ilana Glazer. They will never be anybody’s punch line.

Fast-forward a handful of years beyond all that goes along in the famed improv house, Upright Citizen’s Brigade, to a whole bunch of funny-ass, self-conceived episodes of their own web series, Broad City. The skits are raw, and out-there, yet somehow, relatable. Throughout a couple dozen, two-to-five minute intervals, you ride the chaotic wave of mid-twenties #whitegirlproblems, but in Broad City, that’s a good thing. 

Eventually, with a little TLC from the very improv community that reared them, Comedy Central comes knocking for Abbi and Ilana’s sketch series, and Amy Poehler hops on board to produce. It is a pretty much an exaggerated, amplified look at Abbi and Ilana’s lives, as they (quite literally) blaze through their tumultuous twenty-something years, trying their damnedest to make shit happen in the big city; more specifically — the Big Apple. Don’t get it twisted though, Abbi and Ilana’s characters have very little in common with some other “Girls” you may know, save for their gender, and place of residence.

How did you settle on the moniker “Broad City?”

IG: We were working day jobs. I was a social media strategist, and Abbi, you were at the bakery?

AJ: City Bakery has this offshoot called Birdbath.

IG: We would meet at Barnes & Noble on 5th Avenue in Midtown. Abbi would come meet me because I got off work later.

AJ: Yeah — I would ALWAYS wind up coming to you.

IG: We knew we wanted to create content for ourselves. We realized we could do it ourselves. Then we realized it could be about us. Then we realized we had a vehicle in the web series. These were all separate revelations.

AJ: The only thing I can compare it to is like…Steve Jobs! [Laughs] I’m kidding, but it was as if this aisle in Barnes & Noble was our garage. We were like, “This is how our thing is gonna be, and this is how we’re gonna get out of Barnes & Noble!”

IG: We were our own version of Steve Jobs. I’m not saying we’re comparable to him, but it was our own Steve Jobs story.

AJ: I saw this commercial about how all this stuff started in garages, and I feel like Broad City started in a metaphorical garage.

You’re like the garage-band of comedy.

IG: Yeeeaaahhh. That’s HOT! I was in bands and we would always practice in our basement.

It’s pretty much the same thing.

IG: Except it’s more like Wayne’s World. Anyway — BROAD CITY. I think the name’s symbolic of our relationship. Abbi was spittin’ ideas out. It was like, “Something City…something Ville…Broad this, Broad that.” And then finally “Broad City,” and I was like “OH MY GOD — that’s the one.”

AJ: “Broad” reminded me of my grandparents. It felt like such a classic word. I never thought of it as being a negative word. I think it’s empowering for a woman.

So, you’re taking the term “Broad” back?

Both: Yeah!

AJ: Ilana will probably go on a thing right now about how “Broad” is not just about “feminine.”

IG: Anybody can be “a broad.” I think a broad is a badass.

AJ: In whatever you’re doing.

IG: Also, in our culture over the last few years, there’s been so much snark, or distance, or deadness. Like, “I’m over it” or whatever.

AJ: Listen to you, badmouthing Kristen Stewart over there.

IG: Not at all. I’m just giving an example of how it’s cool to be NOT into shit, but a broad is PROUD to be into shit.

Remember the episode where you were walking that long-haired, blonde dog in the Park, and Hannibal said it looked exactly like Judith Light? Take a peek at these animals. See a resemblance to any celebrities?

Broad City Frog Abbi and Illana
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AJ: My first thought was that guy on Law & Order…the main district attorney.

Fred Thompson? He’s a real politician.

AJ: Yes, him! Someone whose natural mouth thing is a frown.

IG: I was thinking maybe Bruce Vilanch. I don’t know.

Broad City Abbi and Ilana answer questions about Chimpanzee
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IG: Bush? George W. Bush?

AJ: Is it Miley?

IG: George W. Bush really, really, really, does look like a monkey.

AJ: Yeah.

IG: It’s also the brows I think.

Llama Broad City Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson
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IG: I’m thinking of the older Pete.

AJ: From Pete and Pete?

IG: Yeah. Also he was Leo on Will & Grace. He’s a musician. A New Orleans musician.

AJ: Leo on Will & Grace

IG: Oh, Harry Connick Jr.!

AJ: OH MY GOD! But, it’s like ‘HAIRY’ Connick Jr.

IG: That is the Hairy Connick Jr. dude! How lame is it that I was like, ‘He was Leo on Will & Grace?’

To read the full story, cop the next issue of Mass Appeal coming soon. 

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