Broad City is a lot of things, but it is not necessarily parent-appropriate: The Comedy Central show covers topics ranging from hiding weed in vaginas to accidental foursomes. But as it turns out, Broad City first began as a web series in part because of its creators’ parents.
“We came to a point where we wanted to make more permanent material,” Broad City‘s co-creator and star Ilana Glazer said at Sunday’s Paley Center and New York Comedy Festival event, “Id Isn’t Always Pretty: An Evening with Broad City.” Before the web series, before the half-hour show, Glazer and Abbi Jacobson were doing improv at New York’s Upright Citizens Brigade. “Something we say is we wanted to send our parents links.”
“They were supportive,” Jacobson added. “But I think at a certain point, they were like, ‘What… are… you doing?'” So they made the web series, got Amy Poehler’s support (she’s now the show’s executive producer), and went on to make a hit comedy. Turns out what they’re doing is pretty great.
Jacobson, Glazer, Poehler, and director Lucia Aniello gathered together to talk with moderator Seth Rogen (who’s guest starring on the upcoming season) about how it all got started, what to expect in the next season, and how adorable series regular Hannibal Buress is. Here’s what we learned.
Poehler got involved when Glazer and Jacobson asked her to appear in their web series—and the set location turned out to be weirdly convenient. “I had known about their web series, and Abbi and Ilana asked me to do something in it. And it was right around the corner from my house,” Poehler said. “And I was like, oh, okay, this will take an hour and it’s around the corner from my house.” Glazer clarified there was no stalking involved: “Luckily, that was coincidence.”
Broad City was almost on FX. “FX had it for a minute, but they were doing a lot of different programming that was different, and they couldn’t quite crack it, and very nicely kind of gave it back to us, which was super nice,” Poehler said. “We benefited from being a little underestimated, I think.”
There’s a reason the show feels very New York. “We talked too about the idea of being the very street-level feel of New York, because most people in New York City don’t have a lot of money, and they don’t spend a lot of time in their apartment,” Poehler said. “You kind of pack your bag for the day, and you’re kind of out for the day, and you’re bopping around but your stuff is with you and you’re always carrying something. So there’s a lot of New York stories that tend to be seen from a bird’s eye view. So we wanted to feel the physicalness of being in the street. And I would say you guys shoot more in exterior New York than… the only other show probably is like Law and Order.”
An audience member asked about character growth, which the Broad City crew laughed about. “It’s very two steps forward, three steps back,” Glazer said. “I’m just like, isn’t that like life, kind of? You learn, but also, like, eh.”
Other characters will get more screen time this season. “The other characters I think, we all fell in love with the other characters this season,” Jacobson said. “And really went with story lines that made us laugh in the room and they’re all sort of based on pieces of different people of all the writers we have. People we know. And stuff that’s happened to us, or friends of ours, or friends of friends. So it’s really fun to sort of pile them together and… it’s just fun.”
Although the first season featured characters besides Abbi and Ilana, the main focus was on the ladies’ friendship. “For the first season, we wanted to make sure that everybody knew at the end of the day, this show is a love story between Abbi and Ilana,” Poehler said. “And we worked really hard in that first season to make sure everybody felt that. And then we felt a little bit freer to open things up a little bit in this season and include more of the world.”
Hannibal Buress, who plays Glazer’s sex-buddy Lincoln, is very cute. “One of the cutest Hannibal Buress moments ever,” Rogen explained, “was I ran into him and I told him I was going to be on the show and that part of our story line is romantic, and he was like, ‘Are you with Abbi or Ilana?’
“And I was like, ‘Abbi.’ And he goes—there was, like, a moment—and he goes, ‘Even though it’s not real, I would have been jealous if you said Ilana.'”
Ilana will get some lady-loving this season. “Both Abbi and Ilana have a day where their biggest… They have something fulfilled in this super, uber day,” Poehler said, trying to avoid spoilers. “And Ilana crosses over to another side.”
They all have very different life mottos.
Rogen: “Web series is like a heart transplant.” (In reference to an earlier statement Poehler made: “I feel like web series to television is sort of like organ transplant. You just have to make sure that the heart doesn’t die on the way to the patient.”)
Aniello: “Regarding plastic surgery: Refresh, don’t redo.”
Jacobson: “Stretch. Before, and after.”
Glazer: “Legit, tell the people you love that you love them.”
Poehler: “Mine is, ‘Snitches get stitches.'”
Broad City’s second season premieres on Comedy Central in January.