“Broad City” got even broader this year — in the best way — and its creators agree. “This year, it’s just gotten so big,” Ilana Glazer recently told Indiewire. “When Hillary [Clinton] happened and that episode was on TV, I was like, ‘Oh my God. We have Hillary Clinton the show. The Blake Griffin thing, too, when we were doing it, it was just, ‘Hahaha, this is funny.’ But when he came on TV, oh my God.”
But despite their epic guest stars paired with outstanding writing — and the duo’s absolute adoration of Griffin’s performance — Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer agree Season 3’s eighth episode is the one they’re proudest of, and a lot of it comes down to performances. As Emmy season kicks into high gear, the creators and stars of “Broad City” explain why it can be both deceptively easy and surprisingly complicated judging comedic performances, with examples of their favorites within “Broad City” and beyond.
So what was your favorite performance from this past season of “Broad City”? For you both?
GLAZER: I’m going to say mine for Abbi was in the eighth episode, “Burning Bridges,” Abbi with the guy with one leg is so classic. It’s so funny. It could have gone on forever. It could have been anywhere, anytime.
JACOBSON: The eighth episode this season is, I think, one of our favorite episodes we’ve ever made — for many reasons — but one, we’re doing this big homage to “Sapphire,” and that was really emotional for us. We love Robin Williams, and that was just really difficult. The whole restaurant scene was such a feat. But for Ilana, we’d been talking a lot about her character. We’d been building up this casualness to her relationship with Lincoln, and Ilana never takes anything seriously. So we were going back and forth over whether she should get upset right away or when this breakdown should be, and I think at the end we decided it would be this buildup that was building and building and building until the end where there was just this breakdown over, I think it’s about Lincoln but also her whole life. It’s sort of everything.
GLAZER: That’s so sad!
JACOBSON: But we really did it, and Ilana fucking killed it. I think that was just a really great moment for the whole crew. We really came together for that whole episode.
GLAZER: I’m so proud of that scene. That was such an elegant scene. The way Abbi’s balancing her life, physically, there in the restaurant. She’s between Ilana and Paul, and her performance was so heartbreaking and real.
JACOBSON: But the rhythm of that episode and the homage to “Sapphire” — it’s like a drum beat. Going back and forth between the tables, it’s like, “What’s going to happen?” And then it just all crumbles. When you set out to do something like that, you just hope you can do it.
Bob Balaban, Susie Essman & Ilana Glazer in “Broad City”
JACOBSON: I feel like I watch a significant amount of drama. And with comedy, at its best, you get an uncontrollable bodily reaction that you don’t in drama unless it’s to the point that it’s making me emotional. What I love about comedy is that it’s unquestionably working. There are varying degrees of that, where there’s something that makes you smile and is funny versus something that makes you hysterically laugh. So I think it’s a lot easier to judge comedy immediately, but at the same time, a dramatic performance that makes you feel things — they’re hard to compare to each other.
GLAZER: Some people like comedy more. Some people like drama more. It’s all so hard because so much is in the writing. I feel like maybe I am more open to different comedic performances, even if they’re not for me, than I am with drama, but I personally don’t watch a ton of drama. That’s an interesting question. It’s leaving me thinking. I don’t really have a clear answer.
Are there comedic performances that you keep find yourself coming back to? Maybe there’s something within them that links them all, and that’s why you remember them.
GLAZER: I love comedy rhythm. When I was younger, I listened to a lot of stand-up comedy albums, but then when you add the visual element, I just love it. I like thinking of it in terms of rhythm. Whereas with drama, there is a rhythm, but maybe it’s more inherent. [But] we were just lucky enough to meet Wanda Sykes yesterday, and I was talking about “Im’a Be Me,” her special. Her rhythm, her stand-up, is so musical. She has great rhythm, but then also the sound of her voice is unbelievable. Her range and her intonation are incredible. You just want to hear her talk. I guess with stand-up it’s less about physicality and it’s just kind of delicious.
JACOBSON: I talk about this all the fucking time, but I’m so happy “Roseanne” is on Netflix because it’s my go-to inspiration. I don’t know what it is about that show, but the cast are so real and those relationships became so nuanced. It’s a network show, but there’s something about it in terms of how they interact with each other. They were so real and fun, you cared so much in the serious moments. They felt so real and dramatic. I was watching a video on my phone of this fight between Roseanne and Jackie — a physical fight — that’s so funny. That relationship just gets me.
GLAZER: Another comedic performance that I love, a two-hander: Do you remember on “Arrested Development” when Julia Louis-Dreyfus is pretending to be blind?
JACOBSON: Oh my God!
GLAZER: And Tobias is like this cat burglar.
JACOBSON: He broke into her house.
GLAZER: Right, and she’s pretending to be blind, but she wants to catch him. [laughs] That was such a dance, such a dance.
[Editor’s Note: Indiewire’s Consider This campaign is an ongoing series meant to raise awareness for Emmy contenders — FYC — our editorial staff and readership find compelling, fascinating and deserving. Running throughout awards season, Consider This contenders may be underdogs, frontrunners or somewhere in between. More importantly, they’re making damn good television we all should be watching, whether they’re nominated or not.]
Stay on top of the latest TV news! Sign up for our TV email newsletter here.
What else to watch this summer: