They’re two young women in their mid-twenties, living in New York and struggling to retain their dignity in a world of humiliating hook-ups and wageslave degradation. One of them, Abbi, works at a chic, faux-holistic gym cleaning toilets; the other, Ilana, sleeps through her crappy day job and wants nothing more from life than a dimebag and a date with Lil Wayne. Created by Upright Citizen Brigade alumni Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, Comedy Central’s Broad City takes the duo’s scrappy Web series and supersizes it (sort of) for TV; imagine Girls recast as an absurdist sketch-comedy showcase with hip-hop dream sequences and dropping-a-deuce-while-your-hot-neighbor-is-around anxiety, and you’re halfway there.
Having become a breakout hit for the basic-cable channel, Broad City has already secured a second season — which, with any luck, we’ll be able to see before the end of 2014. But before Jacobson and Glazer went into deep seclusion with the show’s other writers to hash out a new batch of episodes (and prior to this season’s finale, airing on March 26th), the duo met up with Rolling Stone over breakfast and took a quick look back at the behind-the-scenes shenanigans and their favorite moments of Season One.
Abbi Jacobson: We produced the pilot ourselves, and we ended up reshooting about a third of it. My character worked at a coffee shop originally; thank god we changed it, because what we came up with for the show — Abbi working at a Equinox-type gym — it’s so much more dynamic now. But pilots are rarely classic episode, because you have to be really informative.
Ilana Glazer: These are who the characters are, these are the people around them, this is what they do: you have to set the scene. But to see how those reshoots changed everything and strengthened the foundation for the first season was a great jumping-off point. The gym scenes in the pilot are some of my favorite bits in the whole first season.
Jacobson: People think we’re ripping on SoulCycle, but the gym is based more on Equinox.
Glazer: People have said it’s a cult-like thing, the whole physical-is-spiritual gym concept. You’re either for the idea or think it’s totally ridiculous.
Jacobson: That’s how cults usually work. You don’t see a lot of half-ass cult members.
Glazer: “Yeah, I mean, I guess this cult is okay…”
Jacobson: “I’m sort of on the fence about this whole be-in-a-cult thing. Tell you what, I’ll flip a coin, and….”
Glazer: “Is there a cult that’s a little more commitmentaphobe-friendly? Because I’d be way down with that. Maybe.”
Creepin’ Out of Coatracks
Jacobson: All of the guest stars that we’ve been able to get on the show so far Creepyhave been wild. We’d go on set and be like, so Fred Armisen is hanging out in a diaper. This. Is. Amazing.
Glazer: The comedy scene is so small and everyone knows each other, especially when it comes to UCB. But still, it’s a little amazing that we’ve been able to get people like [Rachel] Dratch and Janeane [Garafalo] to come on. And then we have Fred Armisen on our first episode.
Jacobson: We didn’t just get to do a scene with Armisen, we got to do a scene with him in our underwear! To be fair, we wrote the scene with him specifically in mind.
Glazer: We won’t just do scenes in our underwear with anybody.
Jacobson: His character’s name is “John Waters Guy,” so who else are you going to get? My favorite part of that is the moment when he’s in the coatrack and just sort of slowly peeks out of it. [Laughs] Like, the characters on the show had to have seen him go into the coatrack and then act like it’s not a thing.
Glazer: It’s another weekday night for him, just straight creepin’ out of the coatrack. The usual.
“Must Like Yogurt”
Jacobson: You write these scenes and you never know how they’re really going to come out. Sometimes they’re okay. Sometimes they’re so much better than you ever imagined. That’s how the scene in the post-office warehouse in episode three (“Working Girls”) worked out.
Glazer: Give it up for my girl “Garol”!
Jacobson: So Abbi has to pick up her neighbor’s package, so she ends up in this abandoned UPS warehouse, with this old woman named Garol eating yogurt that keeps dripping off her chin…
Glazer: We cast this 94-year-old actress named Carol Hamilton who just killed it in that part! Who knew about this lady? It wasn’t like she was blowing up on the 94-year-old actress scene.
Jacobson: I knew her, Ilana, but that’s just because I’m totally dialed in. [Laughs] It ended up being this great gag, despite the fact that we filmed it in an old fish market in the Brooklyn Navy Yards….
Glazer:…on the hottest day of the year! That’s how the ad for the part should have read: “Wanted: Actress in her 90s, able to work in heat that may actually melt you.”
Jacobson: “Must like yogurt.”
Glazer: Abbi was sweating bucketloads. She has had some sit-u-ations, people! One was having to pretend that it didn’t smell like fucking dead fish in a 1,000-degree heat with makeup pouring off her face; the other was in the episode “Fattest Asses,” when she was angry jump-roping at the beginning. This bitch here had a norovirus the night before, and she’s jump-roping her ass off in a hot gym, crazy sick.
Jacobson: It was going around the set; there was a cameraman puking into a garbage can in between shots. I suffer for my art!
Glazer: And then we shot the rooftop party scene for the “Asses” episode in freezing weather in the middle of October. Weatherwise, you can’t win.
Our Man Hannibal
Jacobson: We knew Hannibal Buress from around the New York comedy scene.
Glazer: We pitched the series with him in mind. It’s an extended version of what he did on the Web series with us.
Jacobson: My favorite Hannibal moment is probably that scene with the kid in the dentist chair in the chipped-tooth episode….
Jacobson: He just has this really great sense of timing, and I love how he plays this character Lincoln as such a sensitive guy. We watched the destination-wedding episode with an audience, and his line about seeing Grand Central Station and just saying “It is majestic!”…[Laughs] It killed! The bit about still mourning Amy Winehouse’s death…the crowd just erupted!
Glazer: There’s a part of Hannibal that really is that guy; we just blew that aspect of him up, like, 200% bigger. My favorite part is when I make out with him in his office, and try to get Abi involved.
Jacobson: In the script, it was “Ilana reaches for Abbi’s hair.” When we did the scene, it just turned into this big physical-comedy thing. That’s a great example of Hannibal just adjusting to a scene taking a left turn.
Glazer: Our man Hannibal. He’s always down for our bizarre shit.
“Starting From the Bottom”/The Finale
Glazer: The “Drake” cold open for the show that we did…oh my god!
Jacobson: Basically, Abbi gets a check for eight grand for designing a logo for a Website, and the whole opening bit is a music-video fantasy set in a bank. You don’t recognize us when you first see us.
Glazer: I’m dressed up like Nicki Minaj. Abbi has on the garbage-bag suit from Missy Elliott’s “The Rain” video. Drake’s “Started from the Bottom” is playing. [Pause] There’s some Oprah-level meaningfulness going on here.
Jacobson: I don’t want to say too much about the finale, but I will say that it’s a bottle episode and it came off without a hitch. We originally wrote an origin story for the last episode of the season, and [executive producer] Amy Poehler and Comedy Central rightfully said “Maybe it’s a little too early to do this.” So we started scrambling in the writers’ room, and…
Glazer: …basically came up with an outline and a script in a whole day.
Jacobson: It focuses on us, with no real supporting character, very simple. Even the cold open is so good…it feels like one of the old webisodes.
Glazer: Vintage Broad City, man.
Jacobson: Plus Amy directed it, and she was in the last of episode of the Web series, so it felt like it was coming around full circle.
Glazer: When we saw the final cut of the finale…I don’t know what giving birth is like, but I imagine that’s how it feels. Just seeing this thing you’ve incubated for so long and then boom, it’s here.
Jacobson: And then it turns 13 and you have to bail it out of jail.