“Broad City” is an internet success story — comedians Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer went from making a web series to landing a Comedy Central series with the help of Amy Poehler, who came on board as an executive producer. The series premieres on January 22nd (you can watch the first episode online now), and Glazer and Jacobson were joined by Poehler at the TCA winter press tour today. Poehler, who will host the Golden Globes on Sunday with Tina Fey, claimed to be “excited and nervous” and maintaining her cool by being “heavily medicated.”
On the show, Glazer and Jacobson play exaggerated versions of themselves struggling with life in poverty in New York. “Every episode is a day in the life of these two,” Jacobson explained, adding that one of the things they wanted for the series was to “show our New York and as much of the city as you can — we shot inside Grand Central, Penn Station, Times Square, we’re really out in New York.” “Nobody’s really figured out what they want to do,” said Poehler, and the show catches these characters “in a moment where they still haven’t made it, they’re not doing what they want to do and maybe they’re not with who they want to be with.”
A lot of the show is about how difficult it can be to get things done in the city — as Poehler put it, each episode is “a single day in the life of the two of them trying to get a small thing done.” Jacobson and Glazer used to live in Astoria and south Brooklyn, leading to their video chatting a lot rather than actually getting together, something that was included in the series. “For the most part what we did on the web series is what we try to do on the TV show — draw from our lives,” Jacobson said. When writing, Glazer pointed out, they usually start by just venting for 30-45 minutes, and often find things to draw from there.
Poehler first met the two “Broad City” stars through the UCB Theatre and agreed to appear in an episode of the web series, which led to her joining them to develop the show for air. “Television’s such a great medium for women,” she said, noting that she likes the show’s “interesting, real female friendships and sexual premises that aren’t the headline of the show — what young women their age are dealing with and going through right now. There’s so much good female comedy out there and a lot on Comedy Central.”
“I don’t think there’s a thing called women’s comedy — I think it’s just all comedy,” she said when asked about the gendered discussions of the medium, noting later how proud she is of new “Saturday Night Live” hire Sasheer Zamata, who is a UCB alum and who appeared in the “Broad City” finale.
Glazer and Jacobson cited “I Love Lucy” and “Roseanne” as influences, as well as, jokingly, “The Wire.” They called themselves “blessed” to be joined by many familiar faces from the world of comedy as guest stars in the first season of “Broad City” — Fred Armisen, Rachel Dratch, Amy Sedaris and Janeane Garofalo will all appear, as will Poehler. Asked who approached the guest stars, Poehler said “Everyone’s been very familiar with Abby and Ilana’s web show and work — everyone’s been very excited that’s come.”
“We’re looking forward to mining all that juicy talent,” Poehler continued, adding that Glazer and Jacobson “know this next generation of talent too”: “Comedy Central is at this point where it’s representing really vital up-and-coming and have come talents.”
“That was a terrible quote,” she then said. “Everybody’s coming… is what I’m trying to say.”