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scene

Get on the Broad City Bandwagon

| Thursday, February 20, 2014

broad city graphic_webKeri O'Mara

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer are taking off, even if the fictionalized versions of them aren’t quite. Jacobson and Glazer star in Comedy Central’s breakout hit “Broad City,” a show they also created and write for as well as serving as executive producers.

The half-hour comedy, born out of the duo’s popular YouTube series of the same name, features dramatized versions of the actors themselves as they struggle through their post-college lives and dealing with the day-to-day problems that come with living in New York like scrambling for enough money to buy tickets to a secret Lil’ Wayne show, figuring out where to spend the night when your apartment is bug-bombed and even doing your own taxes.

Jacobson and Glazer, who met in 2007 while training at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, sat down Thursday for a conference call with a number of college newspapers to discuss their show, its web series origins and the upcoming tour.

The show, which is five episodes in and halfway through its first season, formed out of Jacobson and Glazer’s own experiences, the pair said.

“We try and base the scenes in every episode on stuff that’s happened to us or friends of ours or the writers that write the show with us or their friends,” Jacobson said. “Somewhere within the episode is some inkling that’s happened in real life. For example, on [this week’s] episode, we’re at this crazy rooftop party that Abbi and Ilana felt very uncomfortable at and that was based on a party that Ilana and I went to and felt that way. We have a spreadsheet that we share where we keep track of all this stuff that’s happened to us and then we’re writing the story we try to add a lot of that stuff in.”

The show’s loosely structured format and realistic portrayals of everyday life draw comparisons to everything from Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to HBO’s classic “Sex and the City,” but with two young women trying to make it in New York in the lead, television critics have drawn links to Lena Dunham’s girls, an association that doesn’t speak to the complexities and differences of the two shows, but which Jacobson and Glazer aren’t turned off by.

“We are just straight-up honored to be compared to these successful, established shows with their own clear voices,” Glazer said. “I think women get compared a lot but it also makes it easier to understand something when it’s compared to something that you already know. But first of all, to be compared to a TV show, meaning that we get to have a TV show is dope no matter what, you can say whatever you want. Also to be compared to a show like ‘Girls,’ which is a brilliant vision and a clear voice and a beautiful product is an honor. It’s just awesome to be in the same sentence as somebody like Lena.”

The pair said, unlike much of the comedy on television today, their senses of humor draw from sincerity and good nature instead of snark and sarcasm. That sensibility is apparent early on in their web series, which ran on YouTube in 2010 and 2011, and deals with the same kind of everyday problems and struggles as their new show. That sincerity allowed Jacobson and Glazer to make web episodes that featured them asking a homeless man to break a $10 bill or using a guy for his washer and drier (a rarity in New York apartments, apparently) without coming off as awful people. That web series, and ultimately the show, came out of some of the friendship the two developed as they struggled to make it in the New York comedy scene.

“Abbi and I were on an improv team for two years before starting the web series, and we kept auditioning for house teams, like theatre companies,” Glazer said. “And we could not get on a team. We wanted to create material for ourselves, and it really does afford more opportunities, you know, getting yourself in front of the camera. We already had that friendship going, and then we introduced the idea of using our friendship it worked and we went with it.”

“Broad City” airs every Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. and co-stars stand-up comedian Hannibal Burress as Glazer’s drily hilarious sort-of-boyfriend.

Catch Jacobson and Glazer live when they perform at Lincoln Hall in Chicago on March 13.

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About Kevin Noonan

I'm a senior from Kansas City studying Marketing with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. I've written for The Observer since I was a freshman, and now serve as editor for Scene.

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