SAN FRANCISCO—Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer cannot wait for fans to see the new season of Broad City. “It is so relevant right now. I’m just so excited to show people,” Jacobson tells The Daily Beast.
As could be expected, Glazer has a blunter take. “It is dark as fuck,” she says. “It is as dark as the world is today.”
The pair is in San Francisco for Comedy Central’s first annual Colossal Clusterfest, which took over Civic Center Plaza this past weekend with six separate stages of comedy. The new season doesn’t premiere until August 23, but they rushed to edit a mid-season episode so they could screen it at the festival.
As Jacobson revealed earlier this year while promoting her new film Person to Person, unlike previous seasons of Broad City, which always took place in the summer, season four will be set in the dead of New York winter. It’s a decision that reflects the mood of not just these two comedic performers but also the vast majority of their fans under President Donald Trump.
Glazer and Jacobson wrote the fourth season anticipating that Hillary Clinton would win the election. For the first time since they started making the show, they took an extended hiatus between writing and shooting. That meant that after Trump’s unexpected victory, they were able to go back and rewrite large sections of the show to reflect “the beginning of the end of our democracy,” as Glazer puts it.
“Obviously the election was so devastating,” Jacobson says as Glazer lets out a deep sigh. Neither of them will say Donald Trump’s name out loud during our conversation.
“The mishegas that was going on in the country was there no matter who won the election,” Glazer adds. “But the person who got elected, it pointed our narrative in a different direction than we thought it was going to go.” Had the election “gone the way we wanted,” Glazer says she doubts they would have ever even mentioned who the president was on the show, just as President Obama never played a role in previous seasons. “Now it’s just constantly moving over the girls in the show the way it is over us in real life.”
An early hint at how the characters of Abbi and Ilana are feeling about the Trump presidency came in an online-only video that hit YouTube on Inauguration Day in January. Anticipating the apocalypse, Ilana tells Abbi, “It is about to get I Am Legend up in here.” At the moment he is sworn in, they unleash a cathartic barrage of profanity that pretty much summed up how most progressives were feeling on that day.
Glazer and Jacobson each directed two episodes in the new season — a new experience for the creators. The episode that screened at Clusterfest on Saturday, directed by Jacobson, is one of the most overtly political of the season. “This is one of our favorite episodes ever,” Glazer told the rapturous crowd of more than 5,000 fans. “It says ‘fuck you’ to the current administration.”
Without giving too much away, Ilana has the realization that despite her renowned “cum kween” status, she has not orgasmed in the months since Trump was elected. This revelation is accompanied by a montage of Trump’s most misogynistic moments edited by Vic Berger, who gained fame for his surreal election videos last year. Every time she tries to masturbate, she remembers something else terrible about the current political situation — “Mike Pence!” — and gets too distracted to continue.
Finally, she buckles down and pushes through. “Fuck you, Trump, I’m going back in!” she declares. When it finally happens, we see another montage, this one of inspiring women that begins with Michelle Obama (“When they go low, we go high”), moves through Hillary Clinton and a barrage of other historical figures, including a radiantly pregnant Beyoncé, before landing on Rihanna. It is a singularly defiant display of womanhood that flies directly in the face of everything President Trump stands for. And it is glorious.
In addition to their screening and Q&A at the festival, Glazer and Jacobson starred in one of the most highly-anticipated events of the weekend: A live reading of Wayne’s World on its 25th anniversary. Joining Glazer’s Wayne Campbell and Jacobson’s Garth Algar on stage were comedian Tig Notaro in the part originated by Rob Lowe and Tia Carrere reprising her role as Cassandra. Comedian Ron Funches stole scene after scene as Wayne’s ex Stacy.
Directed by Penelope Spheeris a quarter of a century ago, it is a sad fact that Wayne’s World was one of the last big studio comedies directed by a woman before Broad City director Lucia Aniello helmed this summer’s Rough Night, which co-stars Glazer. When the original film came out in 1992, Jacobson was eight years old and Glazer was just five.
“Wayne’s World, from when we were children!” Glazer says, disgusted by the lack of female-directed comedies. “And you can tell it’s directed by a woman, it’s really sensual.”
There was something almost too perfect about Glazer and Jacobson stepping into Mike Myers and Dana Carvey’s shoes, respectively, given that Wayne’s World is essentially a stoner movie in which nobody smokes weed. “That is so bizarre,” Jacobson says.
“I didn’t even notice that there was no weed and I just watched it last night,” Glazer says. “But they are fully stoned, they just don’t show it.”
A show that actively embraces marijuana, feminism, queer culture and more, Glazer says Broad City has always been a “political” show, even if it wasn’t explicitly stated. “I think the messaging that we’re more aware of now was always there, but now it’s much more urgent to articulate and name,” she says.
The most explicitly political moment in the show’s history came last season when Hillary Clinton made a brief appearance as herself. In the episode, Ilana ends up volunteering at the candidate’s Brooklyn headquarters. When Abbi comes to visit her there, they collectively lose their minds when they find themselves face-to-face with the candidate. Having spent those few hours with Clinton has made it even more difficult for them to watch her crawl back into the spotlight after her devastating defeat.
“It’s so relieving that she’s coming back around, that we get to hear from her,” Jacobson says of Clinton’s renewed intensity in speeches like the one she delivered last week at the Wellesley College commencement. “We don’t hear from her personally,” she clarifies. “We haven’t heard from her since that shoot day, but we’re all very busy,” she jokes.
“I hope she goes whole hog, I want to hear all of it,” Glazer says of Clinton’s defiant posture. She also seems to agree with the candidate’s recent insistence that while she takes “responsibility” for the decisions that she made, it’s not why she lost.
When I try suggest that Clinton may have had more success politically had she shown more of the warm, funny side that she displayed on Broad City, Glazer stops me in my tracks. “No, there’s nothing that she could have done that would have made her win,” she says. “She didn’t win because she’s a woman.”
There may have been nothing they could do to help Clinton win, but they do believe they have a role to play in the movement to stop Trump. “I think it’s our responsibility to optimize the platform of Broad City to keep pushing things left and keep resisting the current administration as much as we can,” Glazer says.
“And at the same time, to continue to provide a release from the terribleness of what’s happening in reality so that they can breathe and laugh,” Jacobson adds. “We are trying to comment on what’s going on and say how we feel, but another goal is to have people laugh in this dire state.”
“We’re even escaping, in a way, when we’re talking about the current administration,” Glazer says. “Because laughing at it makes it easier to function in it. Part of it is full escape, part of it is full messaging and there’s somewhere in the middle of like, being able to cope with it through laughter.”
“We get to represent how hard it is to deal with this and how it’s confusing and purposely designed to be confusing,” she continues. “We are just as confused, but we have tools and a platform that we’ve been building over four seasons.”
And they are not afraid to use that platform to express exactly how they feel.