February 13, 2012

Interview With Abbi Jacobson And Ilana Glazer Of Broad City

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Broad City is a web series starring UCB alum, Abbi Jacobson, and Ilana Glazer. It is currently in development with FX. (Abbi, and Ilana will share the Executive Producer credit with none other than Amy Poehler.) A few weeks ago, we caught up with them to talk about everything from Jewnicorn to blog-to-book deals.

 

Thought Catalog: How much do you guys relate to your characters?

Abbi: I really relate to my character because we basically write exaggerated versions of ourselves. Most of the situations we portray in the show are things that have either happened to us or a friend, or at least something we can relate to in a big way. So, I’d say, a lot!

Ilana: And the deeper we go into the world of Broad City the further we get from being the characters. We’re still finding the show and the characters in it and who we are, like in reality, I guess all the time. As much as our real lives inform this project, the project informs us about who we are in our lives.

TC: How did you guys conceive the concept of the show?

A: I think when we began doing this and brainstorming, we were both in this place of really yearning to create something for ourselves with our own distinct voices, and that’s where it came from. Us realizing that our dynamic as friends, and the she we talk about with each other was meaty material coming from an honest place.

I: We were real friends before we started creating together, so that helped.

TC: Did you guys always want to be comedians/performers?

A: When I was a kid I was pretty obsessed with SNL and did want to be an actor. In high school I doubted that as a possibility and decided to go full force with the straight and narrow track of getting a great, high paying job — so I went to art school, studying fine art. I found the UCB right after college and it just felt really right. From then on, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I: When my brother, Eliot, and I were kids, we had a video camera.

TC: What’s it like working with Amy Poehler?

A: It’s pretty amazing to get to work with someone you admire and look at as such a role model in many ways. Having her in an episode couldn’t have been more fun, as she is down to do whatever to make it funnier.

I: In one way, it was this big amazing thing, and in another way, it feels so right! I think that’s what everyone must feel who works with her, but it’s still a very special thing. She’s a very special person; it is, of course, excellent.

TC: Ilana, you can play drums, and Abbi can draw really well. What other talents do you guys have?

A: Hmmm, I used to play a lot of sports as a kid, so I would say at my core I’m pretty athletic… even if I don’t partake in team-sports anymore. I’m also pretty crafty in general — I was very proud of myself during times in my life when I was really broke at what I would make people for birthday gifts.

I: I’m kind of a dog whisperer, and I’m good with babies and kids. I’m NOT good at getting gifts.

TC: What do you guys think of the comparisons to Curb Your Enthusiasm? Would you guys say the comparisons are warranted? Would you guys make those comparisons yourselves?

A: I love being compared to one of my favorite shows. Curb is such a specific voice, so I do think when people make the comparison, they’re speaking to the dry, realistic, Jewish tone — which is stuff I love about our show, so I will happily take it. We did used to say it was a sort of cross between Curb and Sex and the City, even though I think it’s very different. But for people who haven’t ever seen it, you gotta compare it to stuff they know and other shows.

I: You’ll always be compared to somebody else, but if you are, that’s good because someone’s thinking of you and talking about your work. We’re down!

TC: Broad City has been described as “sneak attack feminism,” are you guys inclined to agree?

A: Yeah, that conversation was about how we don’t consciously try to include feminist issues in the show, but after you have watched a lot of Broad City, you sort of come away with a bit of that — a feeling that these to represent a piece of our generation’s women and what they’re about.

I: It snuck up even on us because it takes an audience to respond to certain things and make your work pertinent in whichever specific way. The way people, all different types of people, respond and reach out shapes our experience.

TC: Is it important, to you guys to be female-friendly comedians?

A: Yes, it is really important. We have to be supportive of each other. It doesn’t mean I automatically think every female comedian is hilarious because they’re a woman, but it’s important to try and continue the growth and exposure of amazing women in every field.

I: Everyone everywhere should be female-friendly. We should be friendly to everybody equally. As comics, it’s like, everybody’s doing their thing and finding their voice, and it’s a hard thing to do, so we should support each other for coming together, finding each other from where ever we started to be strange and fun together.

TC: What sites do you guys love and hate? And what sites do you love to hate?

A: Ahhh… I am a terrible old lady! I don’t go on them much, but the celeb gossip sites make me crazy! I hate HATERS and I dispose all the negative comments on sites like that, but when I do find myself on sites like that, it’s hard to get off. One site I LOVE is Apartment Therapy.

I: I love Dlisted. I love Matt Stopera on Buzzfeed, and I love my brother on New York Mag.

TC: What’s the writing process for each episode like?

A: When we wrote the web series we usually had brainstorming sessions of episode concepts, so when we actually went to write each episode we sort of had an image already of what it was going to be. Ilana usually is the actual “typer,” while I sort of need my hands free!

I: It’s exciting to be able to write the fully actualized version of the show the way we are now. Our dynamic is such that often, Abbi’ll have more of the big concepts where I come in with the details, but we switch, too. I’m controlling and like to type, and I also bounce my leg and need to have my hands occupied.

TC: What do you guys think of the blog-to-book phenomenon?

A: I think it’s very cool. I love when stuff can be produced and presented in different ways. I love when books are adapted to film, when a stand up’s character can turn into the main character on a TV show (Roseanne…) I love stuff like that, but when it is done well.

I: I love it, I think it’s cool that comedians are using this medium. And I totally agree, when it’s done well and thoughtfully is when you’re glad the whole medium was invented. It’s also democratic, like the people are choosing what becomes successful.

TC: Favorite comedians?

A: I love Wanda Sykes, Louis CK, and Hannibal Burress. Portlandia is my new show I’m really into. So many people I love I [think] I’m going to not even try.

I: Yes, Abbi’s… adding Damien Lemon and Yamaneika Saunders. Ali Wong.

TC: Favorite books?

A: A few faces: Einstein’s Dreams, The New York Trilogy, and I loved The Hours.

I: It’s kinda the same thing here as it is with the news… I’m gonna answer what I’m currently reading, which is Thomas Lennon and Ben Garant’s How To Write Movies For Profit, Stanley Siegel’s Your Brain On Sex, and I kinda just finished The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, who was a nutty b.

TC: Who are your favorite Tumblr personalities?

A: Ohh geeez! I don’t know an answer to this question which means I’m not using Tumblr correctly!

I: Frank Ocean.

TC: Are you guys familiar with the The Social Network/ Jewnicorn fandom?

A: No?

I: God that sounds sooo scary. I…

TC: What advice, if any, do you guys have for wannabe comedians?

A: I would say it’s really important to find your own voice, and when you do — create material for yourself and find ways to get that material seen. I know that sounds obvious, but there are a lot of steps in there. To find your own voice, I’d recommend being open to trying new mediums and taking a lot of different classes. Go to see a lot of comedy and figure out what makes you laugh and why. Create stuff for yourself in different formats and see what works best. Do research and find out how to best get expire for whatever medium you’re working on. But most importantly my advice would be to always be creating new stuff and putting it out there — in any way possible. TC mark

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