The first time I met Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, they were wearing Rollerblades and Glazer was psyching herself up to simulate sex with a giant oak tree. Tucked out of view on a shady forest path in Prospect Park on a warm day in September, the stars and creators of Broad City were filming a scene for the sixth episode of the second season, called “The Matrix,” in which the best friends decide that they are too plugged in to the onanistic hive mind of the Internet and decide to go off the digital grid for a single day. The pair get separated, and without smartphones to reconnect, go on separate spirit quests — Glazer’s involves rubbing her bottom on the grass, rolling up leaves and dirt to craft (and smoke) a makeshift joint, and eating weeds from the ground on her hands and knees. For the denouement of her walkabout, Glazer has clothed intercourse — to completion — with a tree, still wearing skates, kneepads, and a bike helmet. Jacobson, who had quickly exchanged her blades for more comfortable Nike sneakers, was coaching Glazer from behind a camera monitor, the two chatting away over headsets, though they might as well have been communicating via ESP.
“Should I fist the tree first, you think, Ab?” Glazer asked. “Or should I give it a rim job? What’s funnier?”
“Definitely fisting!” Jacobson hollered back. “The tree may say no but its heart says yes!”
Glazer went to work. She is a brilliant physical comedian — both women are — and gyrated her compact frame around the tree, oozing over its limbs, French-kissing its bark, straddling it, slapping it, twerking on it, poking it in various orifices. (Jacobson chimed in from the sidelines, “We are always coming up with new holes!”) A crew of about 25 people looked on, but Glazer showed no signs of embarrassment — she only requested inspiration in the form of slow jams — “Give me some dirty music, baby, lemme get my griiiind on!” — and suggested to the director, John Lee, that perhaps she should “try some shots with reverse cowgirl, like my ass right up to the camera. It should feel grotesque, right? We need dat bounce!” She tried different rhythms and angles, holding back laughter while slapping the trunk of the tree with loud thwacks.
Meanwhile, Jacobson was giggling so hard she had to crouch on the ground. “This is so fucking funny,” she said. “This is so fucking funny.” Then, turning to me, she put on a serious face: “She’s not doing this to fall in love with the tree,” she said. “She is doing it to find … answers.” Then, after a pause: “I just hope the tree is over 18.”
After at least five different takes of dry humping, Lee called to a PA who was the keeper of the “tree jizz,” a mixture of sunscreen and liquid glycerin for Glazer to scoop out of a knot like Pooh Bear coaxing honey from a jar. “Should I look horrified that I just jerked this thing off?” Glazer wondered out loud. “Or am I weirdly proud of it? You know what? Let’s try it both ways.”
After costume designer Lucy Cobbs wiped the goop off, Glazer accepted the applause from the crew with a wobbly curtsy, still balancing on her blades. “Thank you, thank you,” she said, blushing. Then she added, “I feel like I should smoke a cigarette after that.”
B road City returns to Comedy Central tonight, and everything about the new season of the show is bigger: It has more swagger, more jokes, more risks. Its creators are allowing their world to freely expand, filling the space of the raised expectations for the new season like a noble gas. The stakes feel higher, the production is more crisp and polished than ever before, and the farcical universe of the show has opened up to include a brand-new cast of characters, both human and animal alike.
But at its core, Broad City is still a love story — just one about two hapless, pot-smoking, sexually experimental, striving, swearing, struggling, inseparable young gal pals running amok on the streets of modern-day New York City. The main characters, Abbi Abrams and Ilana Wexler, are completely, unshakably obsessed with one another. They are intoxicated by (and often in) each other’s presence, full partners in crime and life. Their New York is the New York that can be experienced only as a duo: a kaleidoscopic playground made for two, the kind of cinematic, heightened fun-house version of the city that accompanies the most epic, swooning romances. Abbi and Ilana live separately but share nearly everything: drugs, stomach issues, sexual fantasies, shattering ego blows, visions of grandiosity, and high-stakes capers to solve low-stakes problems. They staunchly refuse to judge one another’s outsize behavior; instead, they practice radical mutual acceptance. Between them there are no boundaries, no topic too taboo. Consider a scene from the new season: As the pair sit snuggled in the same blanket, on the same bed, drinking the same type of iced mocha lattes, Abbi expresses horror about potentially pooping herself one day during childbirth. Ilana soothes her, telling her that “if it happens to me, you have my permission not to look.” Abbi sighs: “I’m going to see you give birth, then?” “Bitch, duh,” Ilana says. “Who else would be my focal point?” They are codependent, co-obsessed, copilots.
Offscreen, Ilana Glazer, 27, and Abbi Jacobson, 30, the creators, writers, and stars of Broad City, are coworkers, and they are exceedingly good at it. They also happen to be best friends, and have been for almost eight years, ever since they were 19 and 23 and met in a weekly practice group for improv comedians who were studying the “yes and” brand of comedy that is the signature of the Upright Citizens Brigade. Glazer and Jacobson were the only women in the group: both petite, brunette, more culturally than spiritually Jewish (“more summer camp than synagogue”), and willing to toss their bodies around for a laugh. They quickly bonded over the fact that, despite being equally hungry, neither of them was getting parts. So they started working on their own little project based off the natural, breathless banter that seemed to happen whenever they were around each other. Some people just naturally fall into shtick, and these two can ping-pong forever. It’s chemical, sui generis, and extremely lucky; if you believe in magical forces, then you might call it fated.
Thus Broad City was born in 2009 as a scrappy YouTube web series. The first episode is just two minutes long and shot on zero budget. In it, Ilana gives a homeless man a $10 bill and tries to get change back so she and Abbi can still afford bagels. Even the early webisodes establish their comic interplay: “Ilana” is the feisty tomboy, an imp with untamable curly hair, an eternal optimist in the way that certain con men are: The world can always be manipulated for her pleasure. She dresses like a combination of a ’90s fly girl and a postmillennial health goth, tiny shorts and basketball jerseys, her belly button constantly exposed to the open air. She hates work and is always broke, but still considers herself to be on a mogul trajectory. “Abbi” is the dreamer. She wants to be a famous artist. Her hero is Oprah, whose likeness she has tattooed onto the small of her back. She is not the straight man, but instead is just neurotic in a more subdued way; she channels her anxiety into a rich imaginative life. She wears shabby cardigans and low-top sneakers, the uniform of a girl who can only afford big box stores (the one time she decides to go on a shopping spree, she tells the saleswoman that she will be returning the dress within the month). Both women medicate, meditate, and celebrate with marijuana. Both have faith in each other’s inherent greatness: They are each the best person the other has ever met. This is where the comedy comes in: They never, ever say no to each other. It is only, always, “yes and … ” And then the high jinks ensue.
The web series was never too popular — the first episode still has only 290,000 views, even after the show has been on television for a year — but Glazer and Jacobson’s chemistry was contagious to the right people, one of whom was UCB earth mother Amy Poehler. The reason that Broad City attracted the likes of Poehler — or really any industry attention at all — was that it was truly one of the first online sitcoms, or at least one whose creators took their digital work as seriously as if they had already been given a network deal. Though a few low-fi series had popped up on the web (The Burg, Lena Dunham’s jangly Delusional Downtown Divas), Glazer and Jacobson were at the forefront of something brand new — they were cultural entrepreneurs. In this way, their path to fame is unlikely to be replicated — in the time since Broad City launched, several high-quality shows have debuted online (The Outs, High Maintenance) and scored development deals, but now the field is so crowded that it is tough to stand out. And with digital entertainment hubs like Amazon and Netflix launching their own series, the line between web and television is blurring like never before. The medium is no longer the only message; the big goal is landing with a distributor that gives you the budget and resources to be seen. For Glazer and Jacobson, back in 2010, before the rise of online networks, leveling up only meant jumping from the web to cable. And Poehler was their way in.
After Poehler noticed Glazer and Jacobson’s work in 2011,1 she agreed to appear in their final webisode and also come onboard as the executive producer, helping the women transition the show to television. And yet even with Poehler’s guidance, the show stalled for almost a year at FX, stuck in the creative gridlock that often causes new projects to wither on the vine. But Glazer and Jacobson kept working on a pilot and shopping the show around town, finally sitting in front of the show’s ultimate champions, Kent Alterman and Brooke Posch at Comedy Central. It all clicked into place from there. (“Kent is a dream,” Glazer said. “He is this white executive dude but he is fighting the fucking good fight.”) Because the duo had been so disheartened by the stops, starts, and interventions at FX, they say they actually grew more tenacious about how the show should look and feel.
“When we had the web show, we felt like we were making our own destiny,” said Glazer. “And finally, the floodgates felt like they were opening to us. I remember those early meetings when we weren’t totally in charge, and it was so frustrating. Even though we were young, we had already been so in control of the tone of the show. We knew what the show was! We just didn’t know what it was in the context of an entire network team working on it. Comedy Central just let us try things out.”
“When they came to us, they had a script, and that script needed work,” says Alterman. “But we never had any concerns about what we bought. We bought them, what Abbi and Ilana are when they are together. What they have is basically impossible to manufacture. They have an organic, very innate, primal dynamic, and it’s obvious to anyone. They are irresistible.”
“Even now, we are getting older and smarter and stronger, like two Popeyes,” said Glazer. “People ask me if I would go back and create a web series again and I say abso-fucking-lutely, dude. We are content generators. We can’t be at the mercy of anyone else. We’re insane people about work. We’re addicted to it. Once we started making stuff, we just never stopped, and we will never stop.”
When I met with the women for a second time, we were the only customers in a dumpy diner in the Garment District across the street from a crumbling office building where the duo were finalizing edits. It was a gray, rainy October day, and both were wearing jeans and hoodies, and, huddled into the same vinyl booth, they looked exhausted. They were in the middle of planning their upcoming Broad City Live tour (which involved them living together on a bus for most of November and December) and cowriting a sketch for the Comedy Central Christmas special, all while trying to slam in edits on episodes to meet their network deadline. Television’s Abbi and Ilana have trouble accomplishing the simplest chores (buying weed, locating an air conditioner, going out for a nice dinner) without getting into trouble. In reality, Glazer and Jacobson are impressive multitaskers. When I was with them, they were simultaneously confirming tour dates, mapping out bits for a New York show at UCB, and finalizing a series of promo spots for the new season.
“Our characters are reactive. In real life we try to be proactive,” said Glazer. “We are trying to grow up and become businesspeople, which we are.”
“I think it’s why we were drawn to each other in the first place,” said Jacobson. “Even when we were just making a web series, we were both like, ‘We want to be successful with this.’ We didn’t have any money. We printed everything at Kinkos … It was so bobo. We would meet in diners just like this one to write and cast the webisodes, we would have real business meetings about it. ”
“Probably not in diners just like this,” Glazer added, twisting her legs up underneath herself in the booth like a pretzel. “Because it doesn’t have free Wi-Fi.”
Once the green light came from Comedy Central, the network provided the duo with whatever help they needed on Season 1 — a seasoned showrunner, directors versed in the half-hour format — but by Season 2, Glazer and Jacobson had handpicked their own team. “We’re not constantly shitting ourselves like we used to,” said Glazer. “And we learned how to get what we want. It’s not something we plan, but we do have a pretty tight good-cop-bad-cop routine.”
“If Ilana doesn’t like something and I can sense it, I’ll say I don’t like it, too, so one of us doesn’t look like the bad guy. One of us is never more difficult than the other,” added Jacobson.
“Look, sometimes it is still hard,” sighed Glazer. “Some people are scared of us, and some think we are dumb little girls. But the way we combat that is just being ourselves in meetings. And having a partner makes that so easy, because when all else fails, I’ll just talk across the table at Abbi like we are chilling by ourselves.”
“Honestly, we regularly forget that other people are in these meetings with us,” Jacobson said.” We are so used to just talking to each other. We do it all day long, all night long. I’m on Skype with Ilana when I go to bed and then again when I wake up. It’s not like we never have disagreements, but we also just really like talking to each other the most.”
“And it freaks people out!” said Glazer. “There is so much power in being able to look comfortable in a conference room, and I’m not sure dudes in suits are used to seeing women do that.”
You can see how Glazer and Jacobson would intimidate anyone in a room with them: They talk so quickly that they seem to share a stream of consciousness. They talk like all BFFs in the era of instant messaging, sending verbal links back and forth about things they saw or read, saving little bits and pieces for later. They traffic in pop-culture references and Internet slang; they are each other’s favorite IRL Twitter feed. Ultimately, snippets of these conversations will end up in the show. They are doing work even when they are not working, building on their banter, winding in and out of silly voices and secret handshakes. Their chemistry is electric, but also familiar. Anyone with a best friend would recognize it.
When you hang out with Glazer and Jacobson, it doesn’t take much to spark the verbal chain of chemical reactions that can keep them bouncing back and forth with obscure facts, gossip, and ephemera for hours. All you have to do is set the top spinning. When Glazer ordered hot water with lemon at the diner, I mentioned that this was a very Hollywood thing to do.
“Oh, it’s such a douche order!” Glazer said. “But I am trying to eat real food, if possible. Like shit you find on Earth, you know? We eat a lot of fruit. And nuts. We’re total nutheads” (she says this last word in a squeaky baby voice, rolling her eyes backward, cracking Jacobson up). “Hot water is so good for your digestion. Also, a clove of garlic. I swallow one every morning. We are totally obsessed with our stomachs. It’s pretty much all we talk about.”
“Well, that and nail art,” Jacobson chimed in. “I just got really into this one girl on Instagram and had her paint little pineapples on my nails during shooting. What color is your polish, Ilana? I usually paint my own, but … ”
“I always mess mine up,” Glazer interrupted.
“I told you to use a blow-dryer!”
“I don’t own one, so. I should go to Duane Reade. Did you know when I first moved here I thought it was pronounced Doo-anay Ree-aday?”
“Oh, Ilana! I just started watching The Knick, do you watch The Knick? I just watched this episode where this girl had syphilis and her nose fell off and they had to sew her face to her arm!”
“Ew! By the way, you guys, have you heard about this breast surgery called nipple delay? All these women are doing it now because Angelina Jolie did it. But sometimes it doesn’t work and your nipples just get necrotic and fall off. People are literally losing their tits over celebrities.”
It went on like this for the rest of the hour — when Glazer stopped, Jacobson started, and neither is more high-energy than the other; instead, their conversation flowed in an ever-shifting osmosis. They often go off on fluttery tangents, sounding stoned even when they aren’t. Apropos of nothing, Jacobson started to talk about art school. “I know this is, like, really abstract or whatever, but my favorite teacher once said that the painting isn’t the art, but the art is the space between the viewer and the painting. So when we make the show, we are always talking about how the show is really in between what we make and what the viewer thinks of it.”
“You are so right, dude,” Glazer said. “We just want people to feel less lonely after watching it.”
Ali Goldstein/Comedy Central
If making people feel less lonely is the goal, then judging from the rabid fan base that the Broads’ debut season on Comedy Central inspired, they are achieving it. People went nuts for the first season of Broad City. It was a bona fide indie phenomenon. There was rapturous, ravenous press (including a coveted New Yorker profile), more than 1.3 million viewers for the finale (not network numbers, but a solid figure for a debut cable show), a sold-out live tour, a main-stage panel at Comic-Con, and thousands of fan GIFS animating Abbi’s and Ilana’s every pratfall. People (especially young, cosmopolitan women) became obsessed with Glazer and Jacobson, because they saw themselves, finally, on TV: Here were women getting blazed out of their minds, pulling off petty heists, fantasizing openly about getting and giving head, ditching work, smuggling drugs in their crevices, and dealing with each other’s shit (literally and figuratively).
But these weren’t bad, naughty girls; they had the scrap and panache of folk heroes. Abbi and Ilana became to frustrated, anxious millennials what Wayne and Garth were to ennui-stricken Gen X’ers, a duo whose playful exploits expose the hypocrisies and challenges of trying to be a person in a world where “the man” keeps trying to lay you low. The conundrums that Abbi and Ilana face are heightened versions of the frustrations that so many young people feel — they can’t get ahead at work (Abbi is forever a sweat-wiping janitor at the gym she works at, rather than the trainer she wants to be), they can’t make any money (Ilana has to take a temp job during her actual job; she becomes a dog walker and promptly loses all the dogs in her charge), they are slaves to technology (in a new episode, Abbi and Ilana stare at their respective laptops for so long that they go into comas and forget they are in the same room).
“I don’t think that the representation of women has caught up with the real,” said Glazer. “Every girl I know shits and talks about it, and fucks and talks about it. And people are like, these women are filthy! And I’m like, not compared to my friends. The show may be a cartoon version of us, but the cartoon sometimes gets closer to reality than anything.”
At Comic-Con in New York in October, the Broad City panel was overflowing with fans; when Glazer revealed to the crowd that they would be previewing a few moments from the new season, several girls in my row squealed. When Jacobson said that everyone attending would be getting a free “Broad Fucking City” T-shirt on their way out, the crowds bolted for the door. On the road, the women found out that they have just as rabid a fan base outside the city. “Texas was insane,” said Glazer. “Every queer person or person of color within a hundred miles of Dallas turned up to see us. We were like … holy shit.”
“When we got back to New York, we had a secret show at UCB,” said Jacobson. “And when we decided to show the new episodes, everyone snuggled up together on the floor to watch them. It’s insane to see that this show has created its own weird little family.”
Of course, behind every phenomenon is a lot of work, and behind every joke there is a lot of thought about timing, context, pace. I watched Glazer and Jacobson edit an episode, and they are extremely serious about what belongs inside the Broad City world. It is incredibly specific. They were both typing furiously on separate laptops while they hashed and rehashed the tiniest changes to a scene. Glazer was bothered by one of her line readings (“I’m laughing now because the way I’m saying it is disgusting, but it won’t actually be funny on TV”) and kept asking the editor — a young woman; Glazer and Jacobson choose to work only with women or “male feminists” — to shave off microseconds. They tried trimming the line 20 different ways, but Glazer remained unsatisfied. “We’ll come back to it,” she said, adding another note to a pages-long Google doc.
They moved on to a small continuity issue that had been driving them crazy all day. “I’m holding a hot dog drawing here,” says Jacobson. “But look, if we move that joke, the hot dog is gone. I mean, I guess we could just put in a CGI hot dog later.”
“Can we do that?” Glazer says, not looking up from her laptop screen.
“Yeah, I’m so sure we have an effects budget for that kind of thing,” Jacobson deadpanned. They added the hot dog challenge to the list of fixes.
Glazer and Jacobson edit every frame of the show, and have their hands on every step of the process, which they separate into the three distinct blocks of writing, shooting, and postproduction (“It’s the only way we know how,” said Glazer). In Season 2, they stocked their writers’ room with friends — there’s the writing team of Lucia Aniello and Paul W. Downs (who also plays Abbi’s trainer nemesis, Trey), SNL’s Chris Kelly, Playing House’s Anthony King, comedian Jen Statsky, stand-up Naomi Ekperigin, and Grace Edwards, who also writes for Inside Amy Schumer. The writers may not be green, but they are young, diverse, and, more importantly, willing to write material based on their own lives, no matter how outrageous or not commonly seen.
“This is our reality, and it’s the reality of most people I know,” said Aniello, who also directed several episodes of the new season. “Maybe it’s our collective lack of experience in television but wealth of experience in real life, but in the writers’ room we just tell stories about things that really happened to us, and then we put them in the episodes. That’s how we come up with everything. Everyone I know smokes weed. In Season 1, when Ilana travels with her weed in her vagina, we didn’t make that up. That really is the only way to travel.
“I think what we are doing differently is we never try to force emotional turns or aim to shock anyone. If you feel for Abbi and Ilana, it’s because they remind you of people you know.”
One of the reasons Broad City works is that as broad and slapstick as the comedy on the show can be, Glazer and Jacobson ultimately traffic in precision; their jokes could not be anyone else’s jokes. The punch lines that they write always grow out of the exclusive language and physicality that Abbi and Ilana share (they like to slap each other’s asses, spontaneously break-dance, and twist around words to include extra syllables or phrases from other languages). They let the viewer peer into their weird little bubble where there are rules, but they are a different set of rules than we’ve ever seen on TV. In the language of improv, they set up an elaborate, specific game, and then let us watch them play.
And sex is a big part of the game. They both seek it, desire it, and talk about it constantly (in one episode, Ilana tells Abbi her detailed fantasy for a sexual position featuring them both, called the “Arc de Triomphe”). They treat sex with no judgment or sneers; Abbi and Ilana’s carnal victories are always shared. In the new season, when Abbi decides to “peg” one of her hookups with a neon-green dildo, she immediately calls Ilana (who happens to be at her grandmother’s shiva). Ilana screams, “This is the happiest day of my life!” What’s funny about the sex on Broad City is not that women are openly having it (we have Sex and the City to thank for that, as well as just about every cable show that has followed), but that when Abbi and Ilana do it, things tend to go horribly wrong. In the case of the strap-on triumph, Abbi quickly finds a way to melt the apparatus in the dishwasher and must embark on a Chaucerian quest to find a new one before the clock runs out.
Ilana’s main relationship on Broad City — a casual, fuck-buddy dentist named Lincoln, played with droll aplomb by the stand-up comedian Hannibal Buress — resembles a no-strings situation that many women find themselves in right now, though it is not often explored in the media. There is a tender respect between the two characters about their lack of commitment; Lincoln may want more, but he is not angry at Ilana for not being able to give it. They get each other. They like to get stoned, bake a cake, and then smash the cake into their faces. And, mimicking the passion that many young women feel for their best friends, that urge to consume them whole, to know every aspect of them, Ilana asserts that Abbi will always be her primary love interest (she and Abbi have yet to have sex, but they often Skype during sex with other people). This borderline sapphic intensity between female friends is nothing new, but seeing it on cable feels thrilling: Abbi and Ilana make it OK, even glamorous, to prioritize and nurture your bosom buddy over all else. Sex may be the goal, but men are not the pinnacle. No man can ever even come close.
When I met Jacobson and Glazer again in December, in a bro-filled midtown steak house, the women had much more energy; the edit and the tour were over, and all they had left to do was finish a few marketing meetings and wait for the new episodes to air. They were busy planning a reshoot of some photo promos, feeling that the first round they did made them look too fashionable. “Maybe they would work when we are in boss bitch mode,” said Jacobson, “but when we are just being Abbi and Ilana we want to wear jeans. Our costume designer currently hates us, we have so many demands.”
“But you have to get it right,” said Glazer. “We micromanage everything and we have no patience for anything that takes time, just because we are so used to doing everything ourselves.” She paused to move the clasp on Jacobson’s necklace away from the charm. “You get to make a wish! Isn’t it funny how humans make up so many excuses for wishing?”
Our talk turns to feminism. This season, Glazer and Jacobson have become more combative when it comes to fielding questions about being female showrunners; during a recent Vanity Fair video taping, Glazer snapped back at the interviewer when asked whether she and Jacobson ever fight. “I asked, would you ask Key and Peele if they fight? And people have said, you were so right to tell that guy off. And I’m like, no, baby, that was a woman doing that interview. Women can put you in a box just as much as men can.”
One of the boxes that both creators are tired of is being lumped together with Girls. “Lena [Dunham] is a fucking genius, but why group us all together?” (To end the debate once and for all, Broad City and Girls are very different shows that depict two very different New Yorks: The New York of Girls is a kind of gray cloud in which to explore the low-level depression and self-absorption of millennials; the New York of Broad City is a Choose Your Own Adventure, a colorful circus of multicultural weirdos. It is the New York I remember from my twenties.)
“This comparison happens to anyone who isn’t male or white,” Glazer continued. “And that’s cool, that’s the vulnerability you are asking for when you want to be a public figure, to be a vessel into which people pour their own ideas. But we are business owners. I wish we’d be seen as that more often. I bet the head of Viacom doesn’t even watch our show.”
“Maybe he does!” Jacobson said.
“You think Sumner Redstone watches Broad City? Girl. Look, we taught ourselves how to make a thing because we had no other choice. And most women never get that chance. It’s not a part of the culture. The shame about certain demographics getting more opportunities is that they simply get to hone their skills. They even get to fail. And sometimes that makes me want to set my hair on fire. When the Sony hack revealed that white dudes are still the highest paid, it was like … fucking duh.”
“That’s like an SNL sketch of what they could’ve revealed,” Jacobson said, sipping an iced coffee.
“It’s hard to be a woman in charge, but we are finding out how to ask for a schedule that can include health,” said Glazer. “That’s our big thing this year. You can ask for time to work out, or go home, and you don’t need to have a kid to make that excuse. I think maturity is saying, my health and mind and body are the most important thing for this project to succeed. Abbi showed up to set one day puking before a scene, and I was like, never do that again.”
“Even though Ilana and I get to share the mental burden of being the boss, we still end most days so tired we can’t move,” Jacobson said.
“But we are so lucky to be starting our careers this way,” she added. “We have total control. What a fucking blessing from the gods.”
As for what the future has in store for their careers, the women tell me that they are cowriting a film, which will star them both but feature characters not named Abbi and Ilana. They also admitted that though they will always work together in some capacity, they do not necessarily want to be known as a comedy duo for the rest of their lives. This year, they are branching out, embarking on individual writing and directing projects that they say they cannot yet discuss.
“In order to keep feeding the collective Broad City voice, we have to work the muscle of our individual voices,” said Glazer. “But we will always be Abbi and Ilana. Maybe we’ll be the first women to cohost SNL.”
“Oh man, Ilana,” Jacobson said. “Did you know when I was 12, I bet my brother $100 that I would be on SNL by the time I was 20? When you are 12, eight years feels so long, it felt like a gimme.”
And they were off again, the top spinning, trying to crack each other up. In the end, that’s what’s so refreshing about Broad City and what makes it feel so current in the era of Bridesmaids and The Heat and Tina Fey and Poehler: It’s two women, going in, and going hard, for the big laugh.
“Our first mission,” Glazer said, “is always to serve the viewer. People ask about our messaging. What’s the message? What are you trying to say? But our first priority is to be funny.”
“The act of trying to be as funny as possible,” Jacobson added, “is the message.”
Brad Barket/Getty Images
The last time I saw Jacobson and Glazer, they were dressed in formalwear — Jacobson in a kicky plaid midiskirt with a plunging V-neck and Glazer in a white leather motorcycle jacket over a miniskirt — at the Season 2 premiere on a freezing night in January. The party was packed inside a loft space in industrial Dumbo, pulsing with bass and featuring a fancy global food spread, complete with sushi rolls and an extensive hummus station. The bathrooms were stocked with toilet paper printed with the Broad City logo, which ran out quickly after women started stuffing rolls into their bags as souvenirs. Giant laminate balloons spelled out the words “Broad Fucking City” and “Vape Life.” Glazer and Jacobson’s mothers were in attendance, circling the room together and telling clusters of diverse, bespectacled youths how proud they were of their daughters. A subtle cloud of marijuana smoke rose over the crowd and remained there all night.
I was on a special mission to find Glazer at the party, because I somehow, magically, miraculously, had her cell phone in my hand. Earlier in the evening, as my friend Alex and I tiptoed out of our cab into the slippery cold, Alex felt something crunch under her feet. She picked up an iPhone covered in ice crystals, flashing the warning sign for low temperature.
Finding out that we had rescued Glazer’s phone from the tundra was a very brief Nancy Drew mystery — the first clue was a recent text from Rookie editor (and reigning princess of cool girls) Tavi Gevinson, who sent her regrets and several emojis. There was also a text from Downs, who plays the self-obsessed personal trainer who is forever thwarting Abbi’s dreams of advancement on the show. Locating Downs was all we had to do to crack the case. When we finally handed Glazer’s phone back to her, she knelt on the floor and started bowing, singing a high-pitched “ahhh” like she was yodeling at angels. “The world is GOOD!” she shouted through a cupped hand. She then started dancing in full-body waves, twirling Jacobson around the floor.
“We thought it was gone forever,” Jacobson said. “Unbelievable. This is a good sign.”
Later on, the duo stood on a small stage to introduce the first new episode, thanking everyone who had been a part of it. “The last thing I want to do,” Jacobson said, “is thank Ilana.” The audience let out a collective “awwww” as Glazer, the irrepressible ham, threw her head back and screamed like she had just caught a bouquet. “It is really fucking great,” Jacobson continued, “to get to make something with your best friend and then put it somewhere.”
“I love you, bitch,” Glazer added, gazing at Jacobson with her hand clutched to her heart. “You don’t even know, guys. I love her.”
When the pair walked offstage, they were holding hands. Then, as soon as the Broad City logo flashed across the screen, neon and wiggling, everybody started to laugh. They knew what was coming next.
Rachel Syme (@rachsyme) has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, Matter, and other publications. She is currently writing her first book for Random House.