Over the course of five seasons and 50 episodes on Broad City, there are still so many things that Abbi Jacobson still can’t believe she and her co-creator, co-star, and real-life best friend Ilana Glazer got away with.
Like there was the time they filmed a full-on action chase sequence through St. Mark’s Place that ended with Oscar-nominated actress Patricia Clarkson delivering a drunken meltdown monologue. Or that time they convinced Whoopi Goldberg to reprise her Sister Act role during an elaborate “Joyful, Joyful” dance sequence.
But as Jacobson explains on this week’s episode of The Last Laugh podcast, the moment that still makes her laugh out loud with disbelief is when her character made a deeply personal admission to Hillary Clinton.
Since the show’s emotional conclusion just over two years ago, Jacobson has embarked on her own professional journey, putting out a best-selling book of essays and drawings and discovering a whole new career as an animation voiceover artist as the lead in Matt Groening’s Disenchantment and now Phil Lord and Chris Miller’s The Mitchells vs. The Machines, which hits Netflix next Friday.
“This whole career path was not something that I thought was ever a possibility,” she tells me. “I’d never really thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to do voice animation.’ It was so just outside my realm of reality.”
Next up, Jacobson is co-creating and co-starring in a new serialized version of A League of Their Own for Amazon Prime Video, which proudly embraces “queerness” in a way the original 1992 film resisted. And yet, she reveals, the possibility of some sort of Broad City reunion or reboot will never be fully off the table.
Below is an excerpt from our conversation and you can listen to the whole thing—including what it was like to go “toe-to-toe” with Larry David and what fans can expect from her ‘A League of Their Own’ update—right now by subscribing to The Last Laugh on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, Amazon Music, or wherever you get your podcasts and be the first to hear new episodes when they are released every Tuesday.
You had so many incredible cameos on the show. Is there anyone that stands out to you where you’re like, I can’t believe we got this person and then got them to do what they did on the show?
I mean, there’s a lot. I say to Hillary Rodham Clinton, ‘I pegged.’”
That’s quite a moment. Did she have any idea what you were talking about?
[Laughing] Sorry, sometimes I forget that that happened. And it’s just so unreal. I mean, we were just being complete idiots in that scene and we’re supposed to be. And she’s just laughing at us and she’s supposed to be. That was just so special for our crew and everyone involved, Amy [Poehler] came in for that. One, we really believed in her as a candidate and two, it felt like, this show is a real show. If she’s on this show, it might be important in some way. I mean, we’re having her do like the most ridiculous things. And she had fun. It was really fun to see. She’s really lovely and she’s just laughing on set with us the whole time. It was just really a great day. And then there are so many comedy heroes that we had that I couldn’t. I mean, Janeane Garofalo, Amy Sedaris, Rachel Dratch.
Amy Sedaris is so funny on Broad City. The scene where she’s showing you guys the apartments just kills me every time.
She is just truly brilliant. She makes such incredible choices down to the wardrobe. She brings a lot of stuff that she thinks the character would love. I mean, we drove around in this teeny car with her and I don’t think she has a license, which is hilarious. She’s the sweetest too, and just brilliant. But also Fred Armisen, Kelly Ripa being that heightened version of herself.
I did want to ask you about Kelly Ripa. Because that episode is just insane.
So we shot the pilot in 2012. And originally my neighbor Jeremy was played by [Kelly Ripa’s husband] Mark Consuelos, who we adored and loved. And then he got offered a series regular role on another show and couldn’t come back. We ended up finding Stephen Schneider who was perfect for Jeremy. And so it all lands the way it’s supposed to land. But when we reached out to Kelly, she knew the show because Mark had done it. And they were so funny. Mark was so mad that Kelly was going to get to do the show again. And so she did it.
She’s so funny, obviously, on her show, but we know her now as this talk show host and I think it was like a breath of fresh air for her to get to be a harder comedy version of herself. Because she mostly did soaps and network comedy, and this was just different. And it was a fucked-up version of her where she let loose and she was so fun. She is so funny. And she just fit in. And then we were so lucky we got to have Mark on again in the end. Yeah. So that was like a real full-circle moment.
So you decided to end the show after five seasons. And the last few episodes, especially, just get so emotional in a way that’s kind of unexpected and there’s a deepening of your characters in that last season. Were there parallels for you in the way the show ends and your decision to leave New York and stop working with Ilana, at least on a day-to-day basis?
Yeah, I mean, it was a very meta experience ending the show for sure. I think the growth too was really quite meta. The seeds of a lot of the storylines in the show are based on us, usually from farther back, from college. We’re always drawing a lot from our early twenties. But all of a sudden it got to a point in the fourth and fifth seasons where we were bringing more into the room that was happening currently. Like I had dated a woman for the first time. And it was really important to me to bring that into the show. Because so much of the core of Abby on the show is me. And that just felt like an important thing for me to express, but I also felt it was a cool thing to put out there, someone a little bit later than usual coming into their sexuality.
And I wanted to do it the same way that it happened for me. Ilana is my best friend. So Ilana was such a conduit into my queerness in the way that ‘Ilana’ is a conduit for ‘Abby.’ So it was just important to show how friends can be that for each other. There was just stuff that we really wanted to talk about, not that we weren’t before, but just a little bit more intentionally. The election was happening and it was like, we’re going to talk about this and how it’s affecting all of us. And yes, we heightened it into Ilana can’t cum because of [Trump]. It felt like it needed to shift. While they’re still on these crazy adventures, they’re growing at the same time and changing because we all were. We really wanted to start to have these more real undercurrents that were emotional. And it’s funny because we initially wrote that my character Abby gets a residency in Boulder and was going to move. And we were going to do the FaceTime at the end, but I was going to see Ilana behind me.
That she had followed you out to Boulder.
Ilana was going to move and study to become a therapist in Boulder. And then Ilana—oh my god, I’m getting chills—we’re writing and she came to me and was like, ‘I think Ilana needs to stay in New York.’ And then I was like, I think so too, you’re right. And it’s interesting because I’m in Los Angeles right now. And I do split my time in normal times between New York and L.A., but I’ve been here for all of COVID. But it was really meta because Ilana is in New York and I really was leaving New York. And we intentionally made sure that that last scene on the sidewalk where we’re saying goodbye in New York was the last thing was shot. The last thing we shot with the two of them in New York is the last time they’re together in the show. And I mean, that’s a mix between real and not.
“Ilana is my best friend. So Ilana was such a conduit into my queerness in the way that ‘Ilana’ is a conduit for ‘Abby.’”
Yeah, it gets very real. That scene and the scene on the bridge too, it’s so intense and you can tell that it’s real.
And we didn’t do that much throughout the show. A couple of times it gets a little more emotional when Abbi starts sleeping with Trey behind Ilana’s back, there were some tensions. But we felt that we’d earned it. You’d been with them for so much. And we felt like you got to know this relationship so much that we earned that for them, those two goodbyes. Because we felt like we needed them as well.
It does feel like you kind of set up the St. Louis apocalypse movie at the end. Is that something that’s going to happen?
I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think there’s a world where we don’t do something together again. We’re producing stuff and we’ve written stuff together, but I think it would be really hard to not act with Ilana again.
Next week on ‘The Last Laugh’ podcast: ‘Bridesmaids’ director Paul Feig on the hit comedy film’s 10th anniversary.