Let’s hear from the G.L.O.C.s ILANA GLAZER and ABBI JACOBSON on their brilliant web series, BROAD CITY, their creative process and thoughts on women in comedy. Work it.
ILANA: We were in a pizza shop in midtown, and Abbi had just finished a class in obtaining your goals in the entertainment industry. I was only doing an improv group and HSTS (High School Talent Show at The Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC) at the time and really wanted to do a film project. Abbi was in that improv group, and we really wanted to start capitalizing (artistically, metaphorically – not literally just yet) on our well-established dynamic. We’ve only known each other for three years or so, and at that point it was two or less, but we acted like… I don’t know. Sisters or an old married couple. We started talking about this sort of meta (for us) idea, and we had so many ideas so quickly – we were incredibly excited.
ABBI: I think we were both looking to create our own material in some way. I think it takes a few years in this community to find the right project to sort of embark on–and I remember that night in that pizza shop–we were hysterically laughing with excitement because I think we both knew that this had some legs to it.
Had you worked together before and in what capacity?
ILANA: Yeah just that improv group. It’s dead now.
ABBI: It was called Secret Promise Circle. We were properly the 2 ladies and it was filled with a handful of wonderful fellas who are are creating really great work right now. We just had a reunion a few weeks ago, and it was so exciting to see everyone together again and what they’re doing now. It was my first real improv team so it was important!
What are you hoping people take away from your show?
ILANA: I want people to take away a plethora of feelings and reactions. I love comedy that makes you feel a lot of things, and I hope people sometimes feel bad for us, sometimes love us, sometimes hate us, laugh out loud and also do the “hmph” laugh to themselves. I want it to be a well-rounded experience for viewers.
ABBI: I hope people watch it and think-ohh man, that shit happens to me! I hope they can relate a bit to it. I hope they have fun watching and I hope it’s a small little reminder to take stuff a bit less seriously. The most I could hope is that it makes people laugh-whether it’s at us or themselves.
What are your future plans for the show?
ILANA: We’re developing Season 2 and a short film.
ABBI: Yeah we’re right in the middle of writing season 2 and the short film. We’re really excited about the next few months!
Can you talk a little about the creative process overall with Broad City?
ILANA: There’s a lot of collecting and saving of our ideas. We go through life now and (often) not to ourselves, “That would make a great episode.” Chhhheck it off in the old brain, star that shit. We get together to write or to just take care of business, but first we always break it down Lifewise. We un/fortunately work together, so when we’re together most of the time, we are not please hahaha, but when we’re on our own time, we’re so stoked to just laugh and shoot the shit. But then we get down to it. We argue a lot — even when we agree! usually when we agree! — but then when we reach the end of the convo or a semblance what it is on which we are agreeing, we’re so confident about it. When something feels right, it’s clear and we go with it.
ABBI: We’ve mentioned this before, but we really try, consciously to base a lot of the show on our own lives. We play, in most cases exaggerated version of ourselves, so it’s really important to work from issues we’ve had or things that have happened to us that have made us laugh. That’s why I think before we write we always, always have these gab sessions about other stuff that’s going on, because most likely something will come from that. It’s exciting/frightening to look at your own life in this way and use these insecurities and instances for the show!
What do you hope to see from women in comedy in the future?
ILANA: I hope women stop over-compensating for being women and instead just do what they think is actually funny. Women on TV are usually only funny by being “bitchy” and “right.” That’s not funny, it’s irritating, and it perpetuates women being seen as annoying bitches. I want women to care more about being funny than being pretty because when the joke’s over, you’re pretty again. I also want women in comedy to take advantage of the fact that they can get laid because they’re funny.
ABBI: When I look at women in comedy-particularly within the NY Comedy community, I have to say we’re kicking ass. I hope to see more and more and more. I agree with my girl up there in that I wish there were less of these terrible stereotypes of women on TV and film and in general, but I guess the only way to change that is to infiltrate the system! I hope we will all take more risks! Ilana and I really try to play down our looks in the show. We have a whole crew of make-up people and hair people specifically hired to make us look about 30% shittier. You guys probably wouldn’t recognize us in real life.
Do you feel a divide between men and women in the comedy world?
ILANA: Of course. I think white dudes (here we go…) rule the comedy world (et al) and everyone else plays a token character. Most of what is made is about a late-20-something with a chunky gut who somehow has a hotass girlfriend, and he learns a lesson, and we are always rooting for him. Women are either pissed but inevitably nurturing (think Deborah on Everybody Loves Raymond) or tween-like and accidentally bending over all the time (think what 30 Rock parodies with the character Cerie). Huge divide. There’s a huge racial divide, too, but I can’t go into that. I left a party the other night, and no joke, someone asked Abbi what race I identify as (laughs) because inside I might be an elder gay AfroAmerican gentleman. Let’s just leave it at this – white dudes with hairy guts is the US’s perpetual main character. I’m done!
ABBI: In Broad CIty, and our process, I don’ feel this as much because we have total control over this project. It’s this relative world where I feel we can do whatever we want! But when I think about my long-term-goals and the industry as a whole, I think of this divide a lot. There are these places for ages and types and genders and in most cases they suck. But I see this changing. It is changing, and I think TV and Film and everything is shifting a bit because of people who have set the bar higher. It’s an exciting time to be a woman. It’s also an exciting time to love comedy.
What advice would you impart to ladies just starting out in the world-o-comedy?
ILANA: Let your comedy define your Character. Navigate through comedy as you do life – do what you think and feel is Right, do what you think is funny, what will make you proudest. That’s it.
ABBI: Be who you are and don’t try to be anything else. That is the best part of it actually…you almost have no choice. If you try to be something else, I don’t think you will be that funny. My favorite performers and writers are coming from their specific point of view, they stand out, and you can just tell. And then, just put yourself out there and put stuff up and write stuff and make videos and whatever you get a kick out of!
Which ladies are inspiring you lately and, part two – who would you like to hear from next on the blog?
ILANA: I’ve gotten close with Phoebe Robinson recently because she is so. fucking. funny and a really unique voice. She’s perpetually “over it,” which I love – self-loathing but also innately recognizes her own awesomeness. Yes, love Ann Carr. Andrea Rosen cracks me the fuck up. Love the shit outta you, girl. Ab – love your fucking answers.
ABBI: My obvious first mention would be Shannon O’Neill. Coming up through improv classes at UCB, she was the person that made me really realize that finding your own voice and sticking to that was the key to this business. I think I took too many classes with her because I somehow felt that the more I was around her the more I’d find that for myself–and I think I kinda did! So just hang around Shannon a ton. I would also say Ann Carr who has this wonderfully specific voice. I’ve never seen someone who is so committed to her characters. Christina Gausas improv-wise. I haven’t even seen her perform in a bit, but she is one of my all time faves and always reminds me to take my time. She doesn’t rush through and in the end, it always pays off.
Anything else you’d like to say?
ILANA: Gosh I think I’ve said enough. I wrote a paragraph and deleted it two or three times now, and I’m going to leave it at this.
ABBI: Scrumptious is my fave word.
Watch the season finale of Broad City here, then check out the entire series on their site at http://www.broadcitytheshow.com/