March 26, 2014

Broad City’s Ilana Glazer Talks Dick Pics, Hot Pants And Texting With Amy Poehler

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WARNING: You’re about to fall in love with Broad City’s Ilana Glazer. If you haven’t seen her hit new Comedy Central show (FYIzzles, the finale is Wednesday, March 26th at 10:30EST), then you’re missing out on a transformative experience. What started out as a small web-series featuring two previously unknown young comedians, Glazer and co-creator Abbi Jacobson, has turned into one of TV’s most original, and supremely naughty, primetime shows. Glazer plays Ilana Wexler, a young New Yorker, the Queen (and sometimes King) of office slackers everywhere, with a sex-drive to match any dude, anywhere. Her character has concealed weed in her vagina, became an accidental freegan, and has Hannibal Buress as a fuck buddy, what’s not to love about her?!
l-r: Abbi Jacobson, Ilana GlazerPhoto Credit: Lane Savage
l-r: Abbi Jacobson, Ilana GlazerPhoto Credit: Lane Savage

TC: How did you and Abbi come up with the show?

IG: We met around UCB when we both started taking improv classes (though we never took a class together). We actually ended up meeting in a practice group because we couldn’t get cast on a UCB team. By the way, I’m in a public restroom, I’m so sorry. Anyway, we went on auditions to get on a team, but we couldn’t get on a damn one. Nobody wanted us. So we immediately clicked. When we came together to talk about potentially working on this project idea, it was like, what the hell are we going to write about? So when we thought about writing about ourselves, it was like, holy shit, can we do that? We figured we came up with this, we’ve got to at least try it. At the same time, web-series’ were just becoming a new vehicle.

l-r: Abbi Jacobson, Ilana GlazerPhoto Credit: Walter Thompson
l-r: Abbi Jacobson, Ilana GlazerPhoto Credit: Walter Thompson

TC: Numerous articles and people have compared to Broad City to Girls, which feels a little like they’re marginalizing the shows just because both are about twenty-something women. How do you feel about this?

IG: I do think it is reductive and because we’re women and perceived as Jewish white girls from New York City in their early 20’s. As much as I’m like, “Sorry, I don’t produce that show,” we know what TV is about, it’s not like it’s the most well rounded medium. On the other hand, on a positive note, Girls is such a successful, beautiful, well-made show. And the people who actually watch the show see that our show is very different. Women are always put against each other. I’ve also seen people choose one or the other, and it’s like, not necessary at all. If you don’t want to watch Broad City because you watch Girls, fine. Anybody who is not a white dude is going to be compared to the other in their category, gay show against the next gay show, one black show is going to be compared to the next black show, and it’s like, once it’s put in that context, then we can look at it? This industry is very harsh in many ways.

TC: You and Abbi’s love of ganga is so epically real, something you don’t see often from female TV characters. Was this a conscious or subconscious feminist statement in a way?

IG: It wasn’t really a conscious decision at top, it was just very real to us. We try to keep the show grounded in certain ways so that we can go crazy in other ways. The weed use isn’t really up to us to call it a feminist statement, but now that I’ve seen it, I think it’s because women buying their own weed is a new concept. Women aren’t normally seen as the fun-havers, they’re usually the annoying girl that becomes fun because somebody tells her how to do it. I’m so stoked that it comes across this way. It’s about weed but it also isn’t. You want to watch shit to escape, what’s fun, what’s entertaining. Women having pleasure, making pleasure, happens in real life, but in TV anybody other than a white dude is going to have to explain why they’re having that pleasure. I feel like not explaining it is where it’s at. The world knows that women buy and smoke weed, but not explaining how they get there I think is what surprised people.

l-r: Ilana Glazer, Abbi JacobsonPhoto Credit: Lane Savage
l-r: Ilana Glazer, Abbi JacobsonPhoto Credit: Lane Savage

TC: Your style on the show is sick, it’s very revealing yet also very much you, you own it. How much say do you have in what you wear? Where do you get those hot pants?

IG: Our wardrobe supervisor, Staci Greenbaum, she’s so smart, she just gets it. Like that’s not something you can fake. We based Ilana Wexler’s style on myself, but there’s always like an extra joke, we always try to make the outfit have a joke. There’s this one episode where it’s a flower top, flower shorts, flower boots, just something funny to be taken away from it. Sometimes in real life I want to be more revealing, and wear tight clothes, and other times I want to be butch, and feel masculine. Girls are so lucky that they can do this, even though I feel like it’s because we’re viewed as non-threatening, but regardless, we can so acceptedly be gender-fluid in our presentation. Whereas boys get shit for it. It’s a more a subtle joke for women, but if one of the Workaholics guys wore a kilt, that would be the storyline because boys don’t wear skirts. It’s a nice little touch that we get to have a visual runner. Like the big fake pony-tail extension (in this episode), in my mind that was the runner because we saw what happened to it in the end, we saw that journey that the pony-tail had. They did a lot of shopping at American Apparel, Urban Outfitters, H & M, Forever 21. It’s cool to be like, viewers probably saw this shirt in the store, our demo is going to recognize these hotpants.

TC: Your character is such a bad employee. Why doesn’t she get fired?

IG: I think she’s not fired because there’s always that person at your day job who will, and all the comedians I know are this way, get by on panash. They bring in flavor and sparkle to the office, Ilana is that person. We’ve been talking about that, while writing season 2, Is Ilana weirdly good at her job? Or is it just the personality? We’re still determining that.

TC: You and Abbi are very sex positive on the show, very forward, especially your character. Your character talked about the dick pics she’s received. Do women really want dick pics?

IG: Why is the world sex negative? It’s so dumb. It’s funny that sex-positivism is the joke, I know it is, we intended it to be, but it’s crazy that it’s such a frightening thing. Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, these are our people who are pushing sexual ownership? I think people usually are more like Abbi’s character, where their instincts are to follow their learned behavior, and then it’s like, hold up, I want this. You’re taught that girls are prude and boys are horny, boys just want to see pussy. I remember at the time thinking that’s lame, but like, it’s not lame, who can blame them? They can want to do whatever they want. I feel like girls are way, way hornier than TV and movies show them. And now they’re showing women being horny like it’s a new thing, and it’s like, yeah, no shit. I do think women want dick pics. Some people are not like, “Genitals, genitals,” they want companionship, to make out. But other people are more like, smell your damn armpit, see what’s going on down there, men and women alike. Isn’t it such a privilege to know what’s going on down there before you get to it? I’m pretty sure girls want dick pics and are giddy and excited when they receive them. It was so exciting to get my first dick pic, for him to be that vulnerable.

l-r: Ilana Glazer, Abbi JacobsonPhoto Credit: Linda Kallerus
l-r: Ilana Glazer, Abbi JacobsonPhoto Credit: Linda Kallerus

TC: Do you mean to get deep about identity with your show’s quips or are millennials just naturally deep?

IG: Kids growing up with the internet was such a fucking generation divider. Kids these days, 18 and younger, they know what insane realistic sex looks like. There’s no mystery to what a blow job is like, my generation didn’t have that. Drugs even. Before the internet it was like, weed and beer. But now they’re doing stuff with bath salts, shit I’ve never heard of before. It’s a parody of itself. I do think that millennials, younger even, are more naturally meta, because the internet is a meta experience. Even TV and movies, so much more self-referential. Everything is condensed so hard that you have to work harder to push the envelope. Kids have seen everything and know that everything has been done before. There’s a more casual awareness.

TC: Amy Poehler is the executive producer of Broad City. Do you freak out every time she texts you?

IG: It’s not so much Amy being famous, but more like somebody that I wanted to be my friend for a while. We definitely used to freak out hard, but I think once you learn enough little things about someone, they’re human. Even though she’s been my idol for years. I don’t freak as much anymore, but it definitely took me a while to get there. It’s an honor to call her my friend.

TC: What can we expect in season 2 of Broad City?

IG: We’re in the third writing week, so we’re figuring that out right now. We’re trying to go up inside the characters more (no pun intended). We’re really trying to get more into them, see what their deals are. TC mark

Follow Broad City on Twitter and tune in to the finale at 10:30EST on Wednesday, March 26th.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

H. Alan Scott

H. Alan Scott is a writer and comedian based in New York City and Los Angeles. His work has been featured on the Huffington Post, xoJane, WitStream, Sirius XM Radio, here! TV, Chicago Tribune, Towleroad, and Time Out New York's "Joke of the Week." Scott has performed at the Hollywood Improv, the Laugh Factory, Carolines on Broadway, and Chicago’s Lakeshore Theater. Scott is the co-creator and host of SRSLY LOL, an alternative variety show in New York City and Los Angeles. Most recently he created #Chemocation, an online chronicle of his cancer diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Oprah said his name. Pic by Mindy Tucker.
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