Abbi Jacobson on How ‘Broad City’ Changed After Trump’s Election, Her New Sundance Comedy

Abbi Jacobson
Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Broad City” co-creator Abbi Jacobson is making her first trek to Sundance this year for the premiere of “Person to Person.” It’s a different kind of project for Jacobson — a comedy that’s more interested in human behavior than hilarious gags. But just as “Broad City” focuses on 20-somethings trying to make it in the big city, Jacobson’s character in “Person to Person” is also grappling with finding her place in the real world. In the new film she plays a cub reporter who faces an ethical dilemma while reporting on a murder case for a tabloid newspaper. Michael Cera, Philip Baker Hall, Tavi Gevinson, and Isiah Whitlock, with Dustin Guy Defa directing.

On the eve of the film’s Sundance launch on Friday, Jacobson spoke with Variety about jobs she hated, how “Broad City” is changing after Donald Trump’s presidential election, and what’s next for the Comedy Central show.

How did you get involved in this project?

Dustin and I had a mutual friend who reached out to me. I read the script, we had a drink, and I really liked the part. I had seen his short that he won at Sundance last year or the year before. I really loved his short. I loved his tone.

It’s not like drastically different than what I usually do, but I was excited to do a part that wasn’t such hard comedy. This character is way more contained and way more sparse. She’s very quiet and introverted and that adds a little humility to her. That was exciting to me.

Have you seen the movie?

I saw it last week. It’s a breath of fresh air. It feels like it’s from the ’70s. I think it might be that it was shot on film and maybe it’s the music choices or the color and the pacing of it. There’s a timelessness to New York in it. It feels very right now, but it also feels like it could have been made 20 years ago.

Was it challenging to play an introvert?

It was. I can relate to that. My character on “Broad City” is a little bit like that, but we usually play it out a little bit louder in the physical comedy or the dialogue. This was really internal. I feel like I didn’t vocalize so much of what was happening. I went from scenes with Michael Cera to scenes with Michaela Watkins to scenes with Philip Baker Hall. That’s a pretty awesome list for an actor to get to bounce off of and react to. Mostly what I’m doing in this movie is listening to them and just trying to live in her uncomfortableness.

Did you have sympathy for tabloid journalists after playing one?

Oh, yeah. I very much related to the fact that I would hate being a reporter. That job is terrifying to me. I don’t think I could ever do that. You’re like invading people’s personal spaces and privacy, and that’s definitely not a job that I could do. So I can relate to not being comfortable with that. Before “Broad City,” I had a lot of jobs that I knew were not for me, but when you’re young and don’t know exactly what you’re going to do, if an opportunity comes up, you feel like this is an opportunity, I have to try it. I really related to that. I liked that at the end, she was like this is wrong.

I’ve had one-day jobs, too, where you try it and you have the courage at the end to say, “this is wrong. I don’t mind quitting on day one.” A reporting job is pretty intense, they’ve been more like “I don’t think this waitressing job at the cupcake shop is going to work out for me.”

Were there any jobs in particular that you took only to realize were terrible fits?

I had this job where I had to cold call people and that was terrifying to me and that was on a far different level than invading their space. I worked at this like a GroupOn company. I had to cold call salons and beauty businesses and try to get them to offer our service on the website.

Are you going to the Women’s March to protest Trump that’s taking place here in Park City?

I’m just going to be Sundance for a day and then I’m flying to the march in D.C. I was planning to do that before I found out that the film got into Sundance. It means a lot to me and I feel like it’s important to be there.

It’s so terrifying what’s going to happen on Friday. I think it’s vital to show that what the president says and does isn’t okay. I’m standing up for not only myself, but all women and all minorities that are going to be hurt. I’m very excited to go. I’ve never been to anything like it before.

What role do you see satire or comedy playing in the Trump era?

It’s important to be real honest with what people are feeling and thinking. We’re about to shoot Season 4 [of “Broad City”] in a couple of weeks and we wrote it all in the spring and we had this hiatus. During that hiatus the election happened. We have rewritten a lot to reflect this change, because it will be a different world as soon as our president is in office.

How did “Broad City” change after the election?

We didn’t rewrite huge plot points, but we integrated into the show in a bigger way because there are things that we just didn’t feel are okay. We have an opportunity where we have a platform and we’re going to use our voices to comment on it.

You’re going into the fourth season of “Broad City.” Do you have a set end point?

I don’t know if we have a specific set goal for a number of seasons, but in the back of our minds we know sort of how we want it to end content wise. I don’t think it’s the kind of show that can go on forever. It’s very much about a certain time in your life. We’re still at a place where we love it and we’re still generating so much content, and I think that we’ve never wanted to go past a point where every episode wasn’t as important to us. I guess we’ll see as we go.