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A Conversation with the Ladies of Broad City at Bonnaroo

on January 13, 2015, 3:00pm

At the dawn of Broad City’s cable debut, Ilana Wexler (played by self-proclaimed Jewess Ilana Glazer) says to her number one, Abbi Abrams (IRL last name: Jacobson), “Ab, no joke, today is the day that we become Abbi and Ilana: the boss bitches we are in our minds. Are you with me?”

Adapted from the web series of the same name that the Upright Citizens Brigade-schooled duo created in 2009 and produced by The Boss Bitch Extraordinaire, Amy Poehler, Broad City shows us the world through the pot-smoke-clouded glasses of creators Glazer and Jacobson, who are most certainly the boss bitches that their characters — crazed-up versions of themselves — aspire to become.

On the show, Abbi pines for a job as a fitness trainer while spending her days snaking pubes out of an Equinox-esque gym’s pipes while Ilana snoozes through a Groupon-like gig — each seeking various out-of-the-workplace thrills on the reg (Weezy concerts, Bed Bath & Beyond coupons, and weed. Lots of weed). Season one was punctuated by wonderfully bizarre guest spots from the likes of Fred Armisen and Amy Sedaris and also benefited from the hilarity of supporting actor and comedian Hannibal Buress (whose character, Ilana’s lover Lincoln, offers such musings as, “You know, I’m not over Amy Winehouse. It’s like we knew it would happen, but we didn’t do anything about it.”).

Broad City has garnered a following that’s now ballooning beyond its somewhat cult status and oft draws comparisons to the similarly set but far more serious Girls and the bro-fest the broads follow on Comedy Central’s Wednesday lineup, Workaholics. But the show’s style and language fall more into the vein of Curb Your Enthusiasm or Seinfeld. It’s also the only place on basic cable that you can find questions like “Who would you rather go down on you, Michael Bublé or Janet Jackson?”, dream sequences soundtracked by Drizzy (“eight f*cking thousand dollars”), and the advice that the safest place for one’s weed stash is one’s vagina — sorry, vayaña (“nature’s pocket”).

In 2014, the pizza-shaped slice of my life’s pie chart allotted to discussing various television programs largely lent itself to these ladies (and this shit was on at the same time as True Detective), so I was beyond excited to chat with them on The Farm back in June, 2014. On the final day of the fest, before Abbi and Ilana’s comedy tent performance of Down n’ Dirty, we sat down in their trailer to discuss all things Kimye, Bonnaroo, and Broad City season two.

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Considering we’re at Bonnaroo where there’s never a dull moment, I wanted to ask you the craziest shit you’ve seen this weekend, but you just got here. Cancelled flights?

Abbi: Five cancelled flights. It made sense on Friday, but yesterday, it made no sense. It was, like, perfect in New York.

Ilana: Here, too.

Abbi: We both just took a ride to Newark in the morning and then came back home at four in the morning.

Ilana: That was the craziest thing we saw. Took a ride to the airport and turned right around.

Abbi: My cab driver was so confused.

Ilana: Mine too. I was like, I’m not an idiot, but, like, I kinda am.

Are you sticking around? Do you get to see anything after the show this afternoon?

Both: Nope.

No Elton?

Ilana: I knowww. I want to see Elton!

There are a few songs that might make me weep.

Ilana: I saw him once with Billy Joel.

Abbi: Man, I wish.

Have you guys done comedy at festivals before?

Ilana: Is this our first?

Abbi: We did the Vulture Festival.

Ilana: Ohhh yeahhh. That was so fun.

Abbi: That was like, obviously much smaller. It was at The Bell House.

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So not, you know, 90,000 people, the situation here.

Abbi: I think it’s maybe like 400.

Ilana: But just to call something a festival makes it so fun and celebratory. I love it.

You guys need to come back for the full Bonnaroo experience.

Ilana: We definitely want to come back and be here for the whole weekend.

Abbi: I came! I came the second year.

Who headlined then?

Abbi: I think it was Phish and maybe James Brown? It was so much different. It was not, like, Kanye and people like that.

I thought you guys were going to be here for Kanye. I wanted to discuss!

Abbi: Ugh, I wish.

Ilana: When we missed that Friday night, I was just like, [deep sigh] this suckssss.

It was pretty great. The rants were top notch.

Ilana: I, like, support him. I love him. What was he saying?

It was actually sort of inspirational. He was screaming stuff like, “If you’re a fan of me, you’re a fan of yourself!” It’s crazy, but I was down.

Ilana: Oh my god, agreed! I’m always like, “Man just because you’re yelling it, it sounds crazy.” But I totally love that.

Totally. Just Kanye screaming through a mask in the middle of Tennessee.

Abbi: Wait, what kind of mask?

It wasn’t necessarily bedazzled, but, a silver, full-on face mask.

Abbi: I saw a video with this bright wall behind him, and I think he took his shirt off?

Ilana: This is Kim Kardashian’s husband we’re talking about.

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She was here! Did you see the photo of her? I heard it’s been the most circulated photo of the weekend on Instagram or something.

Abbi: What is it? I want to see it. Pull it up. Wait, she was here. I’m like, “Why would she want to come?”

It kind of makes me believe in their love in a way, ya know?

Abbi: Yes! She’s like, “I wanna see it.”

Ilana: She’s like, “I wanna see Bonnaroo, I’m just chillin’.”

Abbi: I do like her! Oh man, actually yesterday, we were stuck in limbo. Yesterday was so weird. I was just thinking, “Can I do anything because I can’t be at Bonnaroo?” And I watched a portion of a Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Was Kanye in it?

Ilana: I haven’t seen any of the Kanye episodes.

Abbi: Nope, but Kim and the mom went to a stripper tease class.

Ilana: Of course they did. Their family is so incestuous.

OK, here’s the photo.

[Laughter]

Abbi: She is so funny, man. It’s like, what is this?

Ilana: Oh, she’s awesome. Her tits are like, scary at this point. She’s spilling over from over-the-top beautiful to like, scary, and it’s awesome. Oh hey, 100,000 people. She’s hysterical. She knows it.

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OK, so, the show. On it, your friendship is the absolute best. And it’s quite intimate. Abbi sees Ilana on top of Lincoln via Skype in episode one. How much of this stems from reality? How deep is this bond?

Abbi: When we were doing the web series, we Skyped all the time because I lived in Queens and Ilana lived in Brooklyn. And in New York, a lot of shows portray friends as living literally across the hall. We didn’t, and we don’t, and no one I know does. So we always video chatted, and I don’t think we ever did anything like that.

Ilana: But OK, the other day, we FaceTimed, and I started it on my cleavage, and that was funny.

Abbi: That was funny. I told you, “Do it on the show!” and you were like, “Nooo.”

Ilana: Just for you, girl. Just because it, like, was too hot, ya know? It was like too Kim.

Abbi: Yeah, you were way too hot.

Gotta tone it down.

Abbi: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tone it down.

Have you guys seen Hannibal at all yet?

Abbi: Not yet!

I saw him walking around in, like, silver sequin jeans yesterday.

Abbi: Wait, was it a joke?

I’m not totally sure. He seemed very casual about it.

Abbi: That’s hilarious. Wait, wait, is there an area called Shake Down Street?

Yes!

Ilana: Abbi needs to get her pottttt. Wait, what is that again?

Abbi: Well, when it was an actual jam band festival, or at a festival kind of place, the center of town is Shake Down Street, which is a Grateful Dead song. And it’s like, where you can go and buy your pipes, headbands, and one-hitters and stuff. We should go.

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It’s out there but worth the trek. So, season two is coming next year. Can you tell me anything?

Abbi: So, we’re in pre-production now. We start in July.

Ilana: So, we’re cutting down scripts to the number of pages they’re supposed to be, starting to talk to people who do wardrobe, and our set decorator.

Abbi: And every episode will still be a day in the life, so it will only span a day for the most part. You see all of the main characters again.

Ilana: But more so. We’re getting deeper with them.

Abbi: And you meet Ilana’s family.

Ilana: Which is fucking dope.

Abbi: We have some awesome guest stars so far. We’re still casting.

Ilana: Abbi goes nuts a bunch.

Abbi: It’s really fun. It’s a lot more revealing, and you see a lot more of New York, a lot of places we haven’t shot at yet.

Ilana: It sort of just starts veering deeper into the territory that we did toward the end of season one. Which, I don’t know, just felt like more absurdity or something?

Totally. The season one finale with Ilana’s shellfish allergy and Abbi’s glass-shattering EpiPen stab just killed me.

Ilana: Sometimes that will pop into my head, and I’m like, what is that from? And then I realize, oh, it’s us.

God, it’s so funny. How did you guys feel about the reception of season one?

Abbi: It’s so insane, and I will say the fact that we got season two and went right into writing it kind of left us without any time to process it, which I think is a good thing. Because we’re just working and doing it. It’s been so nuts, and it’s been so surreal still.

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Do you guys chat with Amy often — Ms. Poehler?

Abbi: We do, yeah. She’s on all of our notes calls and everything.

Ilana: She just has a great eagle-eye view of the brand and really lends her perspective. She knows exactly what that role is and does it so well. She really lends her experience to us.

Abbi: She does everything so well.

What were you guys most bummed to have missed at Bonnaroo?

Ilana: Kanye.

Abbi: Lauryn Hill.

Ilana: Uggggh.

Abbi: I just was not aware until recently that she was back, performing.

I was so happy to see her.

Ilana: You saw it? How was it?

Fantastic.

Ilana: I’m always so offended when people are like, “She’s crazy.” I think it’s just racism and sexism that made that so. It’s like, no she’s not. She’s. A. Genius. And everybody knows it.

She came out with Skrillex later, too. He did a superjam, and she was a surprise guest.

Abbi: I want to see her so badly.

Ilana: She rocks. That album is a prophet’s album. She is like, divine. Also, Lionel Richie, I really wanted to see.

His face is everywhere this weekend. There’s a lot of “Hello?” signage with Lionel’s face next to like, “Fuck Kanye” all over the place.

Ilana: That is so funny. [sings] “Hello?”

Abbi: Wait, why does it say fuck Kanye?

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Did you hear about what happened last time he played here?

Abbi: Oh yeahhh.

Ilana: No, what happened?

Abbi: He delayed his show by hours and hours.

He didn’t go on until, like, three in the morning. And he brought it up at his set this weekend, actually. He yelled, “Where the press at?” and was going on about how the press wrote that he went on late but also blamed it on Pearl Jam who were on that same stage earlier in the night.

Abbi: That’s like, so unnecessary. Just have a good show. What are you doing? Just fucking play.

Ilana: Nobody fucking cares.

There is a lot of “Fuck Kanye” graffiti. It says it on quite a few Port-a-Potties.

Ilana: That would actually be scary. If I were him, I’d be like, “That’s threatening.” He’s like, scared, so he’s trying to explain himself. He acts like a dick, but I think it’s actually just insecurity, and I think that he speaks to it often.

Agreed. I also kind of feel like he genuinely means everything he says, even if it’s insane.

Ilana: I think so too! But yeah, with the late show before, whenever it was — it is just like, nobody cares. We were like freaking out about not making it here and had to remind ourselves like, also, “Nobody cares, right?”

People cared! They were bummed out. I’m so glad you guys made it.

Ilana: That’s just so hard to process. It’s like, when we meet people who see the show, like you, you’re this like, smart, creative, successful person, and you watch the show? And that’s like, “Whoa!” And then there’s multiple people who we don’t know are watching the show and like, missing us? It’s just really hard to process.

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And not just watching it, but laughing my ass off the entire time while watching it. I’m a nerd for comedy TV shows,  I’ll watch anything, and your show is just insane.

Ilana: Comedy Central is killin’ it, aren’t they? It’s funny, I’m like such a fangirl  we are both such fangirls for Comedy Central.

Alright, lastly, what can we expect for the Comedy Tent show and your live show?

Ilana: So, we are us, the creators, not the characters. And the people who created Broad City are fuckin’ weird. It’s like, weird.

Abbi: We’re doing this bit we’ve done at our monthly show at UCB in New York, and we’re going on tour in November. So we’re doing a slice of it here and a lot of it centers around lists.

Ilana: It’s a little stand-up-y, and you’ll get points of view, but there’s always a format housing it.

Abbi: Yeah, so we’ll do like, the badass bitch list, which is a reason of why we’re badass bitches. And today, we’re doing this list called the soundtrack of our lives, which is like, how the soundtracks of TV and movies make the moment so much better. So we came up with our ideal soundtrack for life’s most meaningful moments.

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