An interview with Abbi Jacobson from Comedy Central’s Broad City: As a young woman, it is a pretty great time to watch television. With shows like HBO’s Girls (love it or hate it, one has to admit that it has been quite influential in the past two years) or Fox’s The Mindy Project, it is exciting how many women are currently leading popular shows, making us laugh, think, and even scream at the television on a weekly basis. Philadelphia-native Abbi Jacobson is joining this prestigious club of leading ladies with the debut of her new television series, Broad City, premiering on Comedy Central this winter. Jacobson and her co-creator Ilana Glazer star in the half-hour comedy based on their popular web series of the same name. The show focuses on their misadventures living as twenty-something best friends in New York City. It is at once familiar and strange, hilarious and touching— a perfectly real depiction of close female friendships with just enough quirk thrown into the mix to make each episode laugh out loud funny. We spoke with Jacobson about life, comedy, and the pursuit of great hair.
FINE LIVING LANCASTER (FLL): What have been some of your biggest comedic influences?
ABBI JACOBSON (AJ): Gilda Radner was huge for me growing up—funny enough, as a kid I watched her Gilda Live on Broadway all the time on Comedy Central. Roseanne is maybe the most influential TV show for me. I was very into SNL, The Cosby Show, Whoopi Goldberg.
FLL: How about any literature that has played a role in shaping your comedy and general outlook on life?
AJ: A lot of my favorite writers aren’t what I would consider comedic—I love Paul Auster, Raymond Carver, Alan Lightman. I think those guys would lend themselves more to my overall outlook on life, dealing more, I guess, with the follies and unusual circumstances we can find ourselves in. I love reading a lot of memoirs and non-fiction about the history of comedy and people’s career paths into comedy.
FLL: So would you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?
AJ: I think I’m one of those people that it really depends on the situation. I need to spend a lot of time alone, and I really enjoy being alone, but get me to a party and I’m a total extrovert!
FLL: Totally get that. So, Broad City. How has production been different while making a television show versus your web series?
AJ: In a way, it’s been very similar, as we’ve been so privileged to work with some of our very best friends and the cast and crew have become such great friends—which is very much like the web series. But, the TV version has obviously been very different. The amount of crew and cast and amazing, talented people has been astounding. We’ve shot all over New York and actually had permits to do so! Each episode tells a day in the life and explores a new, crazy adventure. It’s just been a really wonderful jump into a new world of possibilities to tell the story of these characters.
FLL: Where did the original idea for the web series come from back in 2009?
AJ: Ilana Glazer and I were friends and were the only two girls performing on an improv team in New York called Secret Promise Circle. We were good friends and were both sort of trying to figure out how we fit in the NYC comedy community. We decided we had to make something ourselves to define our voices, and our friendship was very unique—we have a specific dynamic and we thought we could play with that in a web series. So we started making one and just kept making [episodes].
FLL: Do you think that your idea of what is and isn’t funny has changed at all since you began the web series in 2009?
AJ: I think it’s just evolved and changed as I’ve learned more about myself and about comedy and about my point of view.
FLL: What has it been like to work with Amy Poehler (Broad City’s Executive Producer)?
For access to the full article, reference page 128 of Issue 29 pdf.