The year 1990 sounds like a lifetime ago (for may of you, it literally was), so we asked some of our favorite entertainers where they were back then and where they think (or hope!) they’ll be in the future.
25 YEARS AGO:
I had moved to New York City from Boulder, Colorado. And that pretty much changed everything. One of my best friends was living in New York, going to [design school at] FIT, and that’s what I wanted to do. So being 20, I kind of went, “Okay! I have $45. I should probably beg for airline tickets from my parents and move to New York. Forty-five dollars seems like a solid amount of money to live on.” On my second day, my friend Brian Atwood looked at The Village Voice and said, “You’re going to do stand-up tomorrow night. You’re going to tell the weird stories you tell me, but on stage.” At 20, you go, “Sure, why not?” It went really well, and I remember thinking, well, that just changed everything. I loved it so much. I’d never done anything like that on stage, and it was such a nice reaction. I’m sure I was 98 percent terrible, but I remember getting a couple of pretty big laughs, and I thought, Oh my God. Is this a thing? Can I really do this for a living? And that was it. I got bit that night and never looked back. I started doing stand-up every night. But I did it in character. Like I went on as “Miss Y” and wore huge wigs, kind of like a female drag queen, dressed like a man trying to dress like a woman. I didn’t really want to do it as myself. I was like, I don’t know what to do as me, but if I do it as this other person, then suddenly I have a lot to say.
25 YEARS FROM NOW:
I’m going to have so much work done. I’m going to just be unrecognizable. No, I have no idea. I hope I’m doing a great variety of stuff. I hope I’m doing things that would surprise the version of me here and now. I think that’s the exciting thing about our whole business — it’s like, my God, who knows? I hope I’m still working like crazy, and I hope I’m still constantly biting off more than I can handle. I like a challenge, so I always like to put myself right on the edge of more than I can do. When I look at certain people’s careers, I think, God, you kind of can’t peg ’em. They go left, they go right, they go funny, they go dramatic, they go thriller and drama. That, to me, is the absolute goal. Where the person doesn’t come before the role. That’s the real thrill.
Host of Jimmy Kimmel Live!
25 YEARS AGO:
I had just been fired from my first paying job in entertainment. I was a morning-radio sidekick on KZOK-FM in Seattle. They had a target audience of men ages 25 to 54 years old, and I was a 22-year-old kid who didn’t understand that secretly taping your meetings with the program director and then playing them back on the air the next morning wasn’t great for overall job security.
When my partner Kent Voss and I were fired, we were devastated and had no money. I’d been making $384 a week, gross. That dropped to zero dollars a week, gross. But we felt that we had a good show and we were optimistic that somebody somewhere would appreciate our demo tapes, so we applied for jobs at hundreds of stations. No one was interested.
Two very quiet months went by, and eventually I had no choice but to move back home. My then-wife and I rented a 26-foot-long moving truck, packed everything we had, hitched our Pontiac Grand Am to the back and set out for my parents’ house in Phoenix. We spent the first night at a motel in Stockton, California. Thieves broke into the truck and stole our lawn mower. Our next incident was at a highway rest stop on I-10. I neglected to set the parking brake and went to the men’s room. A guy said, “Hey, is that your truck? It’s moving!” Moving trucks are not supposed to move when you’re not in them. The truck was rolling toward the highway. I chased it, but I had a Chihuahua named Marty on a leash and I couldn’t get the key out of my pocket and into the door lock fast enough, so I jumped in front of the truck and attempted to stop a 15,000-pound behemoth with my 165-pound body. Thankfully, the truck hit a cement garbage receptacle and stopped.
Fourteen hundred miles after we left Seattle, I was back living on a foldout couch in my childhood bedroom, with a disappointed wife. I went from doing what was at that time my dream job to parking cars for tips outside a boxing gym/male strip joint. I crashed a truck at that job, too. I’d never been lower — and I’ve not been lower than that since.
Six months later, Kent and I got jobs doing morning radio in Tampa. I got fired at that job, too. But that led to another job in Palm Springs, which led to a job in Tucson, which led to a job at KROQ in Los Angeles, which led to an unplanned career in television.
25 YEARS FROM NOW:
I’m going back to Stockton to find my lawn mower.
Humanitarian and lead singer of U2
25 Years Ago:
I remember flying to Germany to record “Achtung Baby.” We were on the last plane into the old [formerly divided] Berlin. The pilot had the sky to himself so he circled the city a few times. When we landed, we went out to find the rumored parade and celebration [for the reunification of Germany]. We walked out to find this rather glum crowd of people, and I’m thinking, “Wow, the Germans don’t know how to party! What is this?” Then I found out we were at the wrong party — we were at the protest for the wall coming down, with all the communists! But we indeed found some very festive Germans and had a very late night with them. It was a very exciting moment to be in Berlin. But we were having a difficult time recording, to tell the truth. It was a cold winter. We wrote our song “One” about that coldness, and the coldness we’re referring to is oddly about the band. We weren’t getting on very well. We almost broke up. The song became something we held on to quite tightly. And it became an anthem in Berlin, in the east and west. “We’re one, but we’re not the same.” It was special. You learn this lesson continually as a band, which is that you’re made much better by the company you keep.
25 YEARS FROM NOW:
I will say that having found some of our early-’80s stuff quite excruciating to occasionally have to hear, when we play it live, it’s even better than it was then. On the current tour, we play our first single, “Out of Control,” and it’s so modern and so minimal. All the songs from “Achtung Baby” sound very well, very present. I don’t know what we’re doing now, although I will say the songwriting is probably stronger. The [songs on our next album] Songs of Experience — you can play them on acoustic guitar or piano at a pub and they’ll stop you from being thrown out, that kind of thing. So I hope that continues. The real measure of any great song is if it becomes a folk song. I think “With or Without You” is a weird-sounding thing! It’s a very unusual song structure. Yet now it sounds so normal. So your job in 25 years’ time is to make the extraordinary sound normal.
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Abbi Jacobson & Ilana Glazer
Creators and stars of Broad City
25 YEARS AGO:
ABBI: I was 6 years old — summer of 1990. I was livin’ large, in charge, Philly burbs, working on various projects, drawing a lot — lot of big drawing projects — playing a lot of soccer. I was killin’ it, high scorer. Always.
ILANA: Did you have any endorsements?
ABBI: Yeah, I was supported heavily by Susan and Alan Jacobson… They’re very kind Jews in the Philadelphia area.
ILANA: I was 3 and I was just beginning my first venture with my brother, Eliot — K.R.A.P. TV — the network we took over from our grandfather, that we had for many years using our dad’s Sony handheld camcorder… We were the heads of the network. What we made would now be considered digital, but digital platforms didn’t exist yet, so they were just home videos.
ABBI: DIY, grassroots.
ILANA: And we were wholly sponsored by Sandi and Larry Glazer.
25 YEARS FROM NOW:
ABBI: I’m gonna be 25 because you’ll be able to go back in time and pick your age.
ILANA: You would pick 25?
ABBI: No, I would pick 28 and redo it…
ILANA: Really? You had a good 28… I’m 28 now, so I’ll be 53.
ABBI: I actually think 32 — I like even numbers…
ILANA: I really hope that in 25 years I’ll have the majority of my career behind me, but will still be writing, acting, and directing projects just at a slower place than we are now. But, in a way that feels useful and brings joy to people. At that time, there’s gonna be no fresh water left on the earth, and really, our only nourishment will be comedy, so I think it’ll be more important than now.
ABBI: Exactly. I hope I’m still making stuff that is very exciting to me in all different kinds of mediums… comedy, artwork, all of it. I don’t know if I would say I hope the majority of my work is behind me. I hope I have a really strong body of work that I’m building upon when I’m 56.
ILANA: Well, you started when you were 22, so you want to go into your 80s? I don’t know… maybe?!
ABBI: Who knows? I hope I’m having fun, you know? Still a relatively good person.
ILANA: And I hope we’re taking advantage of the new medium, which will be holograms in the sky.
ABBI: I think we’ll be way past holograms in the sky… People are going to see concerts of holograms now!
ILANA: No, I’m saying the sky is the screen… Fullscreen takes up the entirety of the sky.
ABBI: That’s f—ed up.