Abbi Jacobson on Sex Toys, Broad City, and Bleeping Out Donald Trump
There's no pair of twenty-something best friends that don't recognize themselves in Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer.
The Broad City creators have grown their show from a homespun web series into a Comedy Central cult hit on that promise of relatability, which often means hilariously candid conversations about everything top of mind for millennial females: sex, friendship, self-discovery, and, more so recently, politics. “Now, when I hear his name, it’s funny,” Jacobson says of Donald Trump, whose name is cheekily bleeped out throughout the current season. When times are tough, she says, comedy is serious business.
Jacobson got her comedy chops at New York's Upright Citizens Brigade, but today she's speaking with me about another tradition that started at the theater: It's where she ran her first coat drive. So when J.Crew and One Warm Coat approached Jacobson to join their national Give-and-Get Coat Event as an ambassador, it "felt like a no-brainer to me," she says. Through December 25, you can drop off any gently worn coat at a J.Crew store—and in return for your donation, you'll get $25 off whatever's in your $125-or-more shopping bag.
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Here, Jacobson tells us about how the drive began—and gets real about sex toys, Abbi's love life, and the grossest thing she'll never do at Sephora.
Broad City talks about sex with extreme comfort. Is that how you grew up?
No! That’s very much something we wanted to do with the show. Amy Poehler, who is an EP on the show, originally [said]—when she came on, she was like, “I love the way you guys talk about this on the web series.” That made us lean into it more. But that’s how Ilana and I are with each other and with our friends. We just sort of amplify it.
There’s even a Broad City sex toy line now. What sparked the idea?
It just really felt like a cool way to be positive about sex. Since we started working with them, Comedy Central has become way more open and excited about expanding what they were. I think us being on the network kind of makes them more fluid. It’s exciting. They brought us the project, and we worked with [sex toy retailer] LoveHoney. They would send us the designs and names, it was sort of a back and forth, and we felt that it was a seamless partnership.
Where is Abbi’s love life is headed this season?
The rest of the season is more focused on Abbi’s financial situation. We have already seen she’s had struggles in the beginning of the season with the new job. It’s more of a survival-in-New York kind of mentality. I don’t think the show is about finding your perfect partner. It’s actually specifically not about that. Because, you know, this time in your life, that’s what your friends are for. I don’t think that is on her mind right now ... just yet.
The show bleeps out Trump’s name this season. Why was that important to you?
We came to that during our hiatus, which we never have in between writing and shooting, but we had that this year for the first time, and during that, the election happened. When we came back, we had to rewrite a couple episodes regardless, but now the election happened, so Ilana and I and the other writers, we couldn’t stop talking about what was going on in our real lives. We sort of organically seep into the show, and the characters are frustrated with the same things we are. When we stumbled on that joke, to bleep out his name, it felt like a different level of joke, where it’s, like, within our standards and practices. That’s not usually where we put jokes, but it felt like a new, weird way to comment on something.
How has writing comedy changed in the era of Trump?
I feel like comedy in general is more important than ever. Everything is political. [You need] to find ways to comment on what’s going on and how you feel about it.
How did the coat drive with J.Crew and One Warm Coat come about?
Basically, they approached me with this collaboration. Weirdly, I came out of UCB in New York, and I use to do a coat drive there. I just kind of created a poster of this coat drive through that community, and so this felt very organic, and I’ve shopped at J.Crew since I could remember.
Your character on the show is obsessed with Bed, Bath & Beyond. What’s your store kryptonite?
I know this is about J.Crew, but I do love Madewell as well, which is a partner brand. A lot of my denim is from Madewell. I also love a department store. You don’t have to have one thing you’re looking for. And Sephora. I’m a big Sephora fan.
Do you give yourself in-store makeovers with the samples?
No, no way! I feel that is how you get sick, by doing that. But I do like bouncing around, you know, if I’m going in for a mascara, I like to try like a new brand or something. I can’t do that, I can’t try them on. That’s not something to be proud of.
What are your favorite holiday traditions?
I’m from Philadelphia, and I go to Philly a bunch throughout the holidays, which is my only time to see my family, so we get pretty festive around that time of year. It’s also the only time I have vacation. I don’t really have one planned this year, but it is the time that I have a break.
What’s your dream vacation spot right now?
Friends of mine are in Tokyo right now, and I’ve never been. That’s definitely at the top of my list. I’ve always wanted to go to Patagonia, and I’ve never been to Mexico. Those are on the top of my list, those three.
What unfailingly makes you laugh?
Ilana. That’s pretty much why I work with her, because she constantly makes me laugh.