Ten years ago, two comedians met at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. That encounter would forever change their lives — and shake up the world of comedy. “Broad City” creators and stars Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson created a show loosely based on their own experiences in New York City, weaving in important topics affecting the millennial generation, all through the lens of satire.
They launched “Broad City” as a YouTube show, and with the help of Amy Poehler, found the show a home at Comedy Central for five years, where its run ended this past spring. “No two young women had done this — especially not web to TV,” Glazer explains to Arianna Huffington on the Thrive Global Podcast. “It was really scary. We felt that stress in our bodies. I’d just look in Abbi’s eyes and be like, ‘OK, we’re going to figure it out because we have to.’”
Looking back, it was a long journey that didn’t come easily, and they never realized it was going to take off the way it did. “We’ve been creating this alternate reality for ourselves for 10 years,” Jacobson tells Huffington. Glazer adds, “We treated everyone with respect, and really appreciated the collaboration that we got, and contributions from others, and recognize them as best we could. We’re not perfect, but we did the best job we could.”
Putting their show together while still in their early 20s put a lot of pressure on their shoulders, and really forced Jacobson and Glazer into adulthood. They tell Huffington about now were responsible for not only their careers, but for others’ careers, too. “We were the showrunners, writers, creators, stars, and editing — for a million bucks an episode,” Glazer explains. “We were in charge of all that money, in charge of hiring the people, and allocating that, and making those decisions. We’re in our 30s now, and we did it for 10 years. It’s a third of our lives. It made us grow from girls to women.”
At the show’s core is the pair’s friendship. And when Huffington inquired about any workplace conflict they had experienced, they were quick to talk about the strength of their relationship. “We never got into big fights,” Glazer says. “I think we met in the middle of so much, creatively, and found that that was where the creative voice was. There wasn’t room to fight, really. As young women with this opportunity, we can’t f*ck this up, and we can’t be seen as immature. There was just no room.” Together, they found their way to successful compromises. “You know, we make ‘Broad City’ along with a lot of other people, but it’s based on our two voices, finding that middle ground,” Jacobson adds. “It is this compromise until we both find the thing that is right. Obviously, like any friendship, we’ve had different periods of disagreement, but we’ve gotten better at talking about it.”
Glazer also admits to Huffington that she never actually enjoyed working in improv — but that she now recognizes its value. And along with her work on the show, it’s taught her an important lesson about relationships. “I really don’t like improv. I don’t enjoy performing it, but I do remember it as being something so good for my soul and spirit. It just makes you think about someone else’s point of view,” she says. “ I would say that my experience with ‘Broad City’ has set me up for my partnership with my husband. I think the reason why I was set up to find a growth-centric romantic relationship is because I had such a growth-centric primary relationship with Abbi for so long.”
Working on “Broad City” taught Glazer and Jacobson some other tough lessons, too. With a show based loosely on their real lives, the pressure to be “on” all the time took its toll. Both women speak candidly with Huffington about the unhealthy habits they adopted to cope with stress and burnout. “I wish I had dealt with it through meditation and working out, but I think I probably smoked too much weed. And used alcohol,” Glazer admits. Jacobson adds, “I know I need to sleep more. I know I need to get off screens. I know I need to meditate, but the only thing that seems to get me going is new projects.”
But since that first year starting out, both women have found better ways to alleviate stress. Jacobson shares that she goes to therapy and works out, and Glazer does the same — and also makes sure to take time for vacations. “I really like vacation. It really helps to see friends. And therapy rules. Seeing my parents helps,” she says. “And I knit. I always used knitting as a de-stressor during the writing.”
“Broad City” may have come to an end, but Jacobson and Glazer tell Huffington that it is still just the beginning for them. Now, they are cooking up new shows, and have a standup special coming later this year. They’re constantly evolving, but they’ve learned the value of taking time to take care of themselves — and, of course, to laugh — along the way.
Check out the rest of The Thrive Global Podcasts, sponsored by Crest 3D White and in partnership with iHeartRadio, here. To find out more, listen to the full conversation on iHeartRadio, here. You can also listen to the Thrive Global podcast internationally for free on iTunes.