Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson have been working their way into the NYC alternative comedy scene via their web series and live comedy performances, both under the name Broad City. The series was nominated for Best Comedic Video by ECNY (Ilana was nominated for Best Emerging Comic), and has been steadily gaining a cult following over the past year and a half. You can catch these ladies live and in the flesh when they host the Broad City Season 2 finale celebration this Thursday at the 92Y Tribeca, where they will premiere a Broad City short film, in addition to screening several favorite episodes, four stand-up acts, and live music.

How did you two meet?Abbi: We met in an indie improv team called Secret Promise Circle.
Ilana: Yeah, that was through Tim. This guy I was dating invited me and Abbi—
Abbi: No, I was on it already.
Ilana: He invited me to do this team. We were the only girls on it.
Abbi:Eliot [Ilana’s brother] was on it, too. And I thought Ilana was maybe from Arrested Development for a couple weeks.
Ilana: Alia Shawkat?
Abbi: So I thought that Alia Shawkat was on my improv team. I thought her name was Ilana, though. I really thought that you were her, and I was like, Oh my god.
Ilana: She thought she had an opportunity.
Abbi: And I was like, It’s weird that this girl that’s on Arrested Development is really bad at improv.
Ilana: Straight up. And then, the team went out for drinks, and we realized a couple people I grew up with were Abbi’s best friends from college.
Abbi: And I was like, I can’t believe my friends went to school with this girl from Arrested Development.

You both got started in the NYC alternative comedy scene prior to meeting each other?Abbi: We never took a class together, which is funny.
Ilana: Our friend—well, the guy I was dating at the time and Abbi’s friend— was raving about Abbi, about her improv. He was like, She’s so funny, you’re really going to like her. He’s an excellent improviser.
Abbi: He’s probably one of the best improvisers at UCB right now.
Ilana: One of the best improvisers, serious, one of my favorite I’ve ever seen. He’s so good. Tim Martin, Tim Martin! And coming from him, I was like, Damn, I’m stoked to meet her.
Abbi: We were on this team for a while, it was our first team, and it was kind of everyone on the team’s first team. And everyone now from that team is doing awesome things. It is really, really cool.
Ilana: You get so self-involved that you forget that other people are also moving forward, and then you’re like, Damn! I knew you were cool back then, I just thought you were funny and I liked you...It’s amazing where people go to, and what can happen. It seems like a long time but it’s only three years. Five years ago was when we started taking classes. Freshman year I was like, let me just get as many nervous breakdowns out of me as possible, let me get on some medication, get some good therapists, and the sophomore year I was ready to take classes. Abbi came to the city after she went to MICA (fine arts major!).
Abbi: And I was thirty-five when we met. And now I’m forty.
Ilana: Abbi was here for the Atlantic Acting Conservatory and was like, Fuck this. And then went to UCB and was like, Yes, this is what I was meant to come here for.
Abbi: I minored in video at art school, and I moved here to be a serious actor. It’s a great school but it didn’t mesh with me, the technical way that they did things. And my roommate was like, Abbi, have you ever been to UCB? I love comedy but I was just obsessed with SNL growing up.
Ilana: But you hadn’t heard of UCB on Comedy Central?
Abbi: I think I’d seen the images before then, but I’d never watched the show. I was obsessed with old-school SNL. And so, I was like, All right, I’ll check it out. And I was obsessed. I quit Atlantic and took as many classes at UCB as I would have at Atlantic. And worked at Anthropologie.
Ilana: I remember when UCB was just getting started, because we came to the city a lot to see a play or [have] dinner or something, and I remember being like, Upright Citizens Brigade! It’s so weird, it was 2000, I was twelve or something, and I was like, That looks so fucking cool. There was some energy coming off of it.

Were there specific people who made you want to get involved in comedy? Ilana: Amy Poehler, straight the fuck up. Amy Poehler.
Abbi: Amy Poehler. I love the old-school SNL girls, but I think when SNL was in its prime for our generation was with Amy, Maya, Tina, Cheri Oteri. I was fucking [Molly Shannon’s Mary Katherine Gallagher] for Halloween one year. I used to do Linda Richmond as my student counsel representative.
Ilana: Eliot was a little gay Jew and Abbi was a little gay tomboy—not gay, just a tomboy—and they were in separate states doing Linda Richmond for their parents and for their classmates, in Abbi’s case. When I was maybe twelve or thirteen, I started really getting into I Love Lucy, Roseanne...
Abbi: I am watching all of Roseanne right now. I watched four episodes last night. It does not change in funniness. A lot of shows get dated, that show is still hilarious.
Ilana: They went to the most raw, honest place at the time, and I think that’s what makes [something] timeless. Like All in the Family...If it is groundbreaking for its time, it’s timeless, because it becomes this marker. Roseanne, Rosie O’Donnell—I fucking loved. I was so heading towards becoming a lesbian, it’s unbelievable.
Abbi: You were?
Ilana: Are you joking?
Abbi: I mean, it was in the past?
Ilana: I still wish to become.
Abbi: Whoopi Goldberg. If people watch Broad City very closely, we just drop lines about people we love, just to say we like them.
Ilana:Seinfeld, Larry David. I didn’t know who Larry David was at the time, when I was a kid. It was funny to miss the adult or sexual things, and then get it again when it was replaying on the WB or Fox.
Abbi: I was obsessed with The Wonder Years, as well. Also, Blossom?
Ilana: I liked...not In Living Color...I liked the one where Queen Latifah—Living Single! And then A Different World and The Cosby Show.
Abbi: I’ve been watching The Cosby Show and Roseanne a lot right now, and those work so well because they’re not like, jokey comedies, they are coming from real characters. We want our show to be like that. A family show.

How did Broad City start?Abbi: In the fall of 2009, I was taking this class at the time, run through UCB, about setting goals for yourself. I felt, and I think you [Ilana] had felt, What am I doing? I’m just doing improv, and I want to be doing these things that I’m talking about, creating material for myself. That class sort of taught me, if I want to do it, I can do it. I have all the resources available to me. When we finished the class and [my project] wasn’t moving forward, I don’t even know how it happened.
Ilana: Let me do my side. My brother and I were making one-off videos, but not very often. We had this show, High School Talent Show, like a variety/sketch show—R.I.P. We miss it. It was such a fun show, so fucking easy. You were just watching a high school talent show. The thing was to be as real as possible—pick some asshole from high school and imitate them. Abbi did some awesome shit. Once she was an alcoholic teacher that was coming back and trying not to be drunk. It was so sad. Eliot was a douchey teacher who gelled his tinted tips, and had a polo, turned-up collar, and I was Mrs. Klein, the nicest orchestra teacher in the school. She was slightly pathetic, but so cute, I loved her. That was the only thing I had, and I wanted to be doing more films. And, Abbi and I had this report. This is super egomaniacal, but something is funny here.
Abbi: All we were doing was doing improv together.
Ilana: But also being friends and hanging out. There was this unconditional sisterly thing, where even if we annoy each other, it’s understand that it doesn’t matter. It all culminated.
Abbi: We were at that pizza shop on 30th and 7th—
Ilana: Just across from the training center [UCB]! We were like, We should do something! It could just be about us! Abbi is totally our ideas woman. I keep pulling it along. That's how we do.
Abbi: We can use these situations that happen to us! And we have this notebook. It’s my notebook but Ilana writes it all. That’s basically what it is. Some of those bits are very Curb-like, but the reason that it’s different is the way that we are towards each other within the bits. We’re not consciously being like, Let’s do this because it's like Curb. I think it's just that Jew-y mentality.
Ilana: Our ideas came from so many different places. Abbi does characters. You can bring an idea from the character, have that idea within that bit, and explore it in a different medium. They just came from different places: individual stories, stuff from us together, stuff from friends. Those always are the funniest.
Abbi: All of them are pretty much based on, potentially except for the dog walking one, we wrote Shannon a crazy character.

How do you deal with people who recognize themselves [in the episodes]?Ilana: Well, the fat and lazy sex or whatever? He never said anything.
Abbi: Because no guy would ever think that was him. A girl on the other hand would be like, Oh my god, I slept with that person.
Ilana: If he has any idea, he would never say anything, but I don’t think he does. I think they’re fine with it. I think they like it, honestly, if they can tell. Not the bad sex one, but...
Ilana:Subway isn’t anyone real.
Abbi: It is. Don't you remember? But we made it different. Subway is about people in New York feeling like, Ugh, I saw them, I have to sit with them.

Do you feel as though it's part of youth culture now to have pretty autobiographical work out there? Is it breaking boundaries or is it... capitalizing on this moment in which people are willing to reveal things about themselves? I think the difference [between Broad City and other shows] is, people are willing to reveal things as long as it feeds into their image, but you sort of go beyond that and talk about things like bad sex and pooping and periods. Abbi: I think it is part of the culture because there is so much reality TV, but although our show really does draw from our own experiences, it really is not us. It is like us, but it’s exaggerated versions of us. Ilana is not trying to hook up with me. We make up these other things. I think that needs to be addressed, because no joke, my mom gets confused.
Ilana: That is definitely exaggerated. But, that does come from a real place. I am very mushy with people that I love, and Abbi’s not.
Abbi: It’s a written show. Like Larry David is like that, but...
Ilana: Once we started Broad City, the story become us before Broad City. We’ve changed so much from this project. This type of marriage, us to each other and us to the project, there’s pre-Broad City and post-Broad City.
Abbi: Throughout the course of making this project, we've figured out a lot about ourselves, and what we want, and how to go and try to get it.
Ilana: And also how to identify ourselves—what we want to be, not just be seen as, but what we actually want to be. And I don’t want to have shitty sex with a neighbor because a person lives close to me. It’s much easier to laugh about it now that I'm not in it.
Abbi: But also in terms of our creative lives. Since starting Broad City, your [Ilana’s] stand-up is totally different. My stuff is totally different, too. We both found our comedic voices. In the show, Ilana is like this crazy—not that you’re not like that—but I think people think you’re insane with sex, and you go after every guy or girl, and I’m very [makes a timid sound]. And that is where it’s different. We’re not like that.
Ilana: People think that we’re such and such ways, and I’ve become more ok with the boring side of me. That’s funny to show people, but I like going home at eleven on a Friday.
Abbi: And I feel the same way in the opposite way! But I do go home at nine. I go home at five a lot. I’m home all day sometimes. But I’m really not that shy. It’s just funnier. We are potentially more alike in that way. But we’ve used our differences, and to show those insecurities.
Ilana: And to show two sides of an issue. We forget how alike we are, and we’ll show up wearing the same outfit.

A lot of the episodes are edited in a way that emphasizes that exaggerated contrast. Is your reason for doing that to tease out the comedic potential of two characters who are in this intimate friendship, but seem really different, almost incompatible?Abbi: There are a couple episodes [in which] we did that specifically, like Date Night and The Commute. I think The Commute was a second beat. We’re not even in it really together. Date Night we were never in it together. Those episodes had to come after people had watched a couple. It’s really to emphasize, these are totally different people in the same situation, and how they go about those situations.

Do you keep in touch with all of the people who have appeared in Broad City?Ilana: Oh yeah, they’re awesome.
Abbi: Most of them are our friends.
Ilana: And like, generous fans. It’s so fucking cool.

Are there any things you have been nervous to talk about or make jokes about? Since you approach so many taboos, is there anything that is out of the question, or anything that already [made you] overcome something?Abbi: I know I was really nervous to release that photo
Ilana: You were wearing clothes!
Abbi: But we knew that was going to get a reaction. That is a step in a risque direction.
Ilana: But I don’t think it’s sexual at all.
Abbi: But everyone that sees that photo hasn’t seen the show, so it is sexual.
Ilana: But your face—like, it’s not sexual. It’s definitely a bold fucking image. I’m nervous about the last VChat episode of Hack Into Broad City, because I smoke a bong. In our pot episode, the first cut I was like [inhaling], and I was like, You’ve gotta get me on the exhale, you can’t show the whole thing.
Abbi: I don’t feel like that’s a new thing to show. Everyone knows you are such a stoner in the show.
Ilana: I’m just a little nervous. My parents are going to be like, Jesus Christ.
Abbi: I know what I was nervous about! The Dream episode! I was nervous about that and shy. That was insane!

Ilana between your legs?Abbi: Yes!
Ilana: And you know what? Shooting that was so fucking hilarious. She was like, “Don’t breathe on it!”
Abbi: I was just wearing underwear, and it was so late at night. We’re not releasing an episode on Monday, we’re just releasing extras, and we’re releasing the blooper of that. Ilana’s just like, schvitzing, and she goes, “I just breathed on you,” and I go, “I don’t like this!”
Ilana: Oh fuck! I get so so so nervous to kiss onscreen. "Laundry", I was so nervous, and it was just me, Johnny, Rob Michael Hugel. Johnny has a girlfriend, which made me feel even more uncomfortable about it. Always nervous to kiss people. In "Date Night", my kisses are so stupid.
Abbi: I don’t think there’s been any issue that we’ve been nervous about doing.
Ilana: I’m trying to think about times when we’ve been like, Girls don’t do this! Girls don’t do this! There’s a lot of things we’ve said that about. But it’s just fun. Yeah, tell me I fucking can’t. I love that shit. The nervous thing is only out of self-consciousness, but if we’re nervous to release content, it’s excitement. Let’s see how people react to this. It’s never like, Oh, I don’t think we should talk this way or talk about this. To put restrictions on yourself is counterproductive artistically.

Where would you like to take Broad City?Abbi: We wrote a pilot and we are trying to make it a show.
Ilana: We want to do a thirty-minute version of it.
Abbi: And really expand the world. The episodes themselves, we both can see them being potential storylines on a larger scale.
Ilana: We just have this material that is begging to be made.

How would you market it? Who makes up the potential audience?Ilana: Older people love the shit out of our show. If old people like you...It’s one thing to have thirteen-year olds like you, that means you are marketable and a money phenomenon. To have old people like you, that’s something special.
Abbi: I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, because when we wrote the pilot, it’s not like a traditional formula. It’s not a sitcom. And it doesn’t follow, necessarily, this really strong pattern. Someone put up "The Commute" on their site, and they said that the series is more of a short film series than a web series, because it doesn’t follow the traditional web series formula. That’s what we want to do with scale to TV, and not follow this TV formula. You know these two characters, and hopefully like them, and can relate in some way to them. But every episode, you’re not going to know what you’re going to get. You could be introduced to this whole other group of characters, but still get that feel. I was like, Oh, that’s what we are doing! We want to be able to play with all these ideas we have.

The Wall Street Journal talked about your sneak-attack feminism. How do you feel about the word feminism? Are you conscious of the fact that you are maybe representing a certain generation of women? Do you feel comfortable with the idea of representing?Ilana: I'm very comfortable with that, I just haven’t thought of it that way.
Abbi: We know that it’s viewed a little bit like that, but it’s not like when we sit down to write we’re like, We need to address this! We’re being conscious of it by being real about how women our age are, and if that’s feminism...
Ilana: I think the biggest statement in art is to be honest, and I feel like we’re always trying to be as honest as possible. It was harder in the pilot—we had more structure to work with. What would we honestly say in this situation?
Abbi: We’re constantly like, You would never do that. That would never really happen.

The most frequent response that I get from people [after showing them] Broad City is, I feel like I know them, I feel like I know these girls.
Ilana: To me, for people to feel like they know you, you have to know yourself. That’s why I feel so lucky to have this project, because I am getting to know myself. The more you know yourself, the more you can be vulnerable, and people are let into that.
Abbi: That’s the best thing that we could get people to say. That’s how I feel about my favorite shows and movies and characters. Someone like Amy Poehler, I don’t know, but I feel like I know her. I think everyone feels like they know her. We really want [Broad City] to come off as real people.