Backstage with Broad City’s Illana Glazer


Backstage with Broad City’s Illana Glazer

By Kat Jetson

Photos courtesy of Comedy Central.

Much has been written about Broad City and its two comedy darlings, Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. Enough to fill the pages of glossy magazines, and blow up the screens of tiny electronic devices, but no one is talking about the secret weapon that is Ilana’s formidable talent behind the kit. That’s all about to change.

As audience members and as fans, we’re still getting to know these funny faces and their big city (mis)adventures, but for a long while now they’ve been kind of a big deal. Comedy Central loves them (Broad City is already renewed for a third season), Amy Poehler stands tall behind the show as executive producer, and after each new episode there’s at least one new catchphrase or quote that hilariously makes its way onto cross­stitch patterns, buttons and t- shirts. And we’re pretty sure that a quick Google search of Broad City-­isms will lead you down a rabbit hole of refreshingly raunchy girl talk. For now, join us as we get the dish from Ilana on drummer face, the level of queerness of Texas, and the burden of a five pound hawk. Yas kweens.

Like most fans who saw Broad City Live or this season’s episode, “The Matrix”, I was thrilled to realize that the “Drummer Girls” webisode wasn’t just good fun. Tom Tom is a magazine about female drummers so we’re gonna ask you a bunch of questions about your mad skills on the kit. You’re obviously a seasoned drummer. How long you’ve been playing?

We had to choose instruments in 5th grade, so I started playing the drums when I was ten. I played until I was 18. I don’t play regularly anymore, but I want to.

Why the interest in that instrument?

Rhythm is my shit. As a kid and tween, I was a tap dancer and did dance competitions, which are creepy in retrospect. I was very into Savion Glover and Gregory Hines, and there was no YouTube yet, so seeking clips of them was a legit pursuit.

Is there some inherent connection between funny folks and drums? (Fred Armisen is a drummer and regular contributor to our magazine, as well.)

I love this question. I agree there is a connection. Rhythm is a foundation of comedy.

Were you trained or self taught?

I was trained from 5th grade through high school and dreamed of being an orchestra percussionist before I discovered comedy was an attainable thing.

Have you ever played in a band? Which ones?

I played in bands in high school. One was an all girl band with up­-and­coming pop rock staple Deidre Muro of Savoir Adore called Ana’s Band (say it: Ana’s Band, Ana’s Band Ana’s BANDANAS. And we’d wear bandanas… very cool). The second band was called Ophelia, another all­-girl, dickbitin’ group, and then another one with no name, really, with these dude twins.

Do you have any incredible, funny, scary, or outrageous tour stories?

Honestly, nothing that amazing. Here are five observations ranging from not­-surprising to slightly-­surprising from my time on tour with Ab in November 2014:

1. Abbi is really good at exploring new places and finds the coolest little art hot spots in each city. I am not good at that and explored “Main Street” in each city.

2. Texas is queer as fuck!

3. The shopping in Portland is surprisingly yas.

4. We couldn’t shit on the bus. As in, one can’t shit on the bus. Our little tour tribe would sleep through the night and, in the morning, shit dispersed throughout each city.

5. The coffin­-like bunks are comfortable and comforting in a goth way.

6. It’s not sexy, touring.

Who’s got the best drummer face (aside from you and Abbi)?

I gotta say Questlove because his face is just the same as his normal face, which is certainly the most impressive. Music made me way more nervous than comedy, and he doesn’t look nervous at all. It’s so centered.

Can you talk a little bit about you went about writing that opening scene in “The Matrix”?

The fantasy drum off that just got more outrageous with each throw back to the other drummer. I just re­read this cold open (the scene before title sequence), and I have to say, we executed exactly what we wrote. Badass. Our director John Lee is so good at silly shit, and we knew he’d capture our vision. More thoughts: Abbi is sexy as a dude with boobs. The hawk was 5 lbs., and it was the heaviest 5 lbs. Birds also creep me out. And lastly, we did a version of this scene on tour, as our closing act, where Abbi and I drum battled. We’d trade fours, and I’d play well, and she would have to overcompensate for her playing with choreography and emphasis, and only through practice did I learn not to LOL.

If you and Abbi were in a real band together what instruments would you play? What would Hannibal play? What would Jaime play?

I would play the drums, Abbi would sing, Hannibal would do auxiliary percussion and gibberish rap, and Arturo Castro (Jaimé) would be lead guitar. Eliot would do backup vocals, but this would tie everybody together, and he’d be bandleader in effect. Bevers would sit on a microphone and fart at the perfect times and very occasionally. Paul W. Downs, who writes on the show and plays Trey, would be a jacked backup dancer ­­ – the only one. Gethard who plays Todd, Ilana’s boss, would be a neurotic tour manager. Stephen Schneider who plays Jeremy would be there in spirit as lewd videos of him played behind the band, and we’d never acknowledge it.

If the show ended now, what item would you take with you from set to keep as a memento?

We got to keep our bass drum skins for Razor Burns and Pussy M.D., and used them on tour in our live drum battle. I’m really happy with that.

Obviously, Broad City Abbi and Ilana are outrageous versions of real-­life Abbi and Ilana, but there have to be some moments that make it on to the screen that are lifted from real life experiences. Can you divulge one of those moments?

“Pussy Weed” is real.

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