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From Web to Cannes: The Women of Broad City Talk Authenticity in Comedy (Video)

9 Apr

The Broad City team traveled to Cannes this week to take part in a MIPTV keynote speech (“The Power of Comedy: Laughing its way from online to linear”) promoting the show to the overseas market alongside Comedy Central President of Content Development & Original Programming Kent Alterman and Caroline Beaton (Viacom International Program Sales). Executive producer Amy Poehler joined Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson to discuss what has made Broad City a success so far and how it went from web series to TV.

Broad City[Source]

In the keynote (which you can watch below) the origin of the show is discussed including how the pair became friends and where the first creative sparks were ignited (in a pizza shop). The Abbi and Ilana time comes at the beginning and end of the almost 30 minute panel and there’s some slightly dry executive chat in the middle. This is where phrases such as “funny is funny” and “creative vision” are repeated and while it is exec speak it does also apply to this show.

One part of the business aspect that did peak my interest is how comedy is a much harder sell initially to different territories and how “people get scared to back things.” There’s a misconception that comedy doesn’t translate, but other Comedy Central shows like The Daily Show which could be considered as very American are enormously popular globally (hence the Global Edition, I guess). Social media is a boost to the new belief that comedy does translate with Poehler adding “I think there’s a universality about young people’s ability to tell when something isn’t authentic. In countries all over the world people are finding and needing something that feels true and real to them, and also being very suspicious when it’s not.” Lady Gaga tweeting to her 40+ million followers about how much she loves Broad City is another fabulous (and free) way to get the word out globally.

Abbi and Ilana get asked the question they will forever be asked and that is “How closes to your characters are you?” Abbi tells a very funny story about her mom ringing after seeing the finale as some of their own experiences do make it onto the show, but generally everything is a heightened and more amplified version of reality. This leads to a look at other creative aspects of the show and how far it has come since the web series including the writers’ room aspect; now they can allocate these real life stories to other writers.

Diversity is something that is demanded “in cast, in voice” and Amy Poehler references past shows that wouldn’t necessarily fit into the television landscape today or they would at least face a negative response “It’s almost impossible to have a show about New York City with six white people living in a building.” This is what “makes Broad City broad.”

You can watch the whole keynote below and for a look at the style of Broad City head here.

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