Behind the scenes with 'Broad City' stars Abbi Jacobson, Ilana Glazer
Broad City, a Comedy Central show created by Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, had a lot of memorable moments in its debut season. There was the time Ilana was a poop ninja, the time Abbi and Ilana almost had an accidental foursome, the time Abbi went on a too-long trip to retrieve a package. But two of the most memorable scenes didn’t include sex or poop, but instead focused on the two main characters.
One of these scenes is a music video where Abbi and Ilana celebrate cashing a big check, rap video style. Another is the time the two go out to a fancy dinner to celebrate Abbi’s birthday — only for Ilana to have an over-the-top allergic reaction to the shellfish. Both showcase just how ridiculous Jacobson and Glazer are willing to get — and just how funny they are.
Jacobson and Glazer talked to EW about the making of those scenes — what inspired them, where the costumes came from, and how Jacobson rejected a stunt person.
Click here for more of EW.com’s Best of 2014 coverage.
As told by: Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson
The opening music video in “Apartment Hunters”
ABBI JACOBSON: I think the idea’s based on when you’re working in your early 20s and you get what you think is a huge check for something and it sort of makes you want to completely rearrange your life. Like, I got this check for an illustration and it made me, in real life… like I quit my job. It made me go nuts. [Laughs] It ended up working out. $8,000 is a lot of money. That’s sort of where that came from.
ILANA GLAZER: We were laughing about how far $8,000 would go, really like working it out in the writers’ room. Like, it’s two months in New York. [Laughs] It’s just a hard city to live in. Also, you know, when you’re working a day job, and then you get paid for something you love, that’s huge. It feels crazy. We had that the first time we were paid for Broad City. Or even before that. We had little things here and there that were —
JACOBSON: Oh, my God, that terrible NMA.
GLAZER: This like, Taiwanese animation of the news.
JACOBSON: And we were paid 700 bucks each to write these three sketches and we were like, “this is it.”
GLAZER: It’s just feeling like really badass. And taking it to the next level is making it a stereotypical music video.
JACOBSON: Dolla dolla bills raining.
GLAZER: Then it’s kind of the same thing, like that music video, that first scene where Abbi walks in on Bevers jerking off in the living room, when she’s like, “I’ve got money now! I’ve got money!” It’s like, in her mind, in that moment, that gross just like embarrassing moment, she feels like Missy Elliott in “Supa Dupa Fly.” Just that badass. But it’s such an unflattering, gross moment.
JACOBSON: That costume came kind of late. That came in at a page turn meeting where we sort of had this broad idea for this music video and then came up with, what if I wore… Because Ilana was set up with what she was going to wear.
GLAZER: People say it’s like Nicki Minaj, but I think it’s just like video ho type of thing. Just like a general sort of rapstress, like video girl thing.
JACOBSON: It feels a little like Nicki though, the movements into the camera.
GLAZER: Yeah, I don’t know. A lot of people were just like, “Boom, Nicki.” Which I’m so down with, but I thought of it as more of a general thing. I also realized once I was made up how much I looked like Janice from the Muppets. Muppet Janice.
JACOBSON: That’s really funny.
GLAZER: Got a big ol’ mouth, you know? I love Janice. But these page turn meetings are before we enter a shooting block. And we have a prep day, it’s like, let’s just go through, and our producers sort of read the log lines, what the main part of the scene is. And Abbi was like, “Hold up. What if I wear a giant garbage bag oiled up by our wardrobe department?”
JACOBSON: They were like, what are you going to wear? And it just didn’t feel right for us both to be in the same thing. And when I was thinking of music videos, that one just stood out. And it was so funny to me that they were able to find that.
GLAZER: Our wardrobe supervisor, Staci Greenbaum, she says, “How are we going to design this and how are we going to blow it up?” And then she went to Party City. And it was in red, green, blue, and black. It was just like straight-up, in a package ready for her to take.
JACOBSON: We were really lucky. People always complain about how Halloween stores open very early in the year. Like holiday stores open like months before the holiday. But we lucked out when that happened.
GLAZER: And like these girls rubbing baby oil on it. Before and after every take.
JACOBSON: It had to be greased up because it looked like a very matte material. It had to look shiny.
GLAZER: It had to be evenly oiled too or else it’s just like, an oil streak.
JACOBSON: And there was a little thing on the inside the suit that kept me inflated.
The allergy attack in “The Last Supper”
GLAZER: So the allergy is actually based on one of our writers and directors, Lucia Aniello, who found out, sadly, that she was allergic to shellfish late in life. And she’s so Italian, and her parents own many restaurants. It’s a true personal tragedy to happen to her.
JACOBSON: She’s not as allergic as we made Ilana, but that’s where that storyline came from.
GLAZER: She’ll eat, and she’ll just get a tummy fit. But she’ll die for the night. And she’s like, “I don’t care,” but she hasn’t done it in awhile.
JACOBSON: So we just wanted to do a birthday thing. We wanted to go to a nicer restaurant. And at least for me, the only times I did that earlier in my life was when my parents were in town or my parents have been like, why don’t you go to dinner with a friend for your birthday, or with a couple friends, and that’s your gift?
GLAZER: Such a thoughtful gift.
JACOBSON: Yeah, it’s a really special thing. Because you get to have sort of a really fun, fancy night.
GLAZER: And it’s nice as you’re getting older and you know you’re not a real adult yet to feel like one for a second, that’s very sweet. Another thing that’s taken from a true scenario was the EpiPen that Abbi experienced in her real life.
JACOBSON: The EpiPen thing, I can’t really remember how we connected all these things, but that’s what happens in the writers’ room where we share stories and they become part of one larger story. So I went to overnight camp for a long time and before the campers get to camp, all the counselors are given an orientation.
GLAZER: She was a camper and then became a counselor for many years.
JACOBSON: When I was a counselor, during this orientation, they were talking about how a couple kids were really allergic to nuts or milk. And we had to all learn how to use an EpiPen and treat them if they were to eat those things. And one of the owners at the camp was a pediatrician, and she stood on this basketball court showing us how to use an EpiPen. And as she’s doing so, she accidentally stabbed herself in the hand. And said [Laughs], it was a very different reaction than I had, “Okay, and the adrenaline is now pumping through my body.” I just thought that was so funny.
GLAZER: She was just narrating the effect. It’s just like so crazy and cool. And she was like, able to do that, I guess. It was funny, the idea of like, something that’s scary and also like… not scary.
After Abbi accidentally stabs herself with the EpiPen, she carries Ilana out of the restaurant.
JACOBSON: We had a stunt person come to set because people thought I wouldn’t be able to do it.
GLAZER: That’s what they thought.
JACOBSON: So people thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. So there was this stunt woman standing there, but in the moment, I was like, I’m going to do this. And so I actually did do it. And it was really a moment of adrenaline. But I was like, what am I going to do? Have this stunt person? Like I have to do it.
GLAZER: And then it would be close-ups rather than the wide that’s so funny. And that initial roar.
JACOBSON: And when you’re shooting, you kind of get that kind of adrenaline because there’s a lot of pressure. It was like a video game of obstacles I had to knock over with Ilana’s head.
JACOBSON: I feel like that one was really fun, that part. But also I think actually the last scene of that episode, which is the last scene in the whole season, might have been my favorite because we shot it at sunrise.
GLAZER: And we limit our magic hour shots because our producers will kill us if we don’t. A lot of the time we pitch day or night, you just kind of have to. Because it’s expensive if you miss a scene that can only work at dawn or dusk or whatever, it changes so quickly. But we were able to make that work, truly, at dawn.
JACOBSON: And it was really special because we kind of shot it in oners, which is in one take. So one take from the front, one take from the back. It sort of switches point of view in the middle. And we did a couple takes but all in one take, and it was just sort of this really simple scene which is very much what the whole show is all about. Amy Poehler directed that episode and it was just a really good morning.
GLAZER: It was really special.