Writer, comedian, ‘Broad City’ star Abbi Jacobson visits Scripps

(Courtesy of Scripps Presents)

Scripps College hosted writer, comedian, and artist Abbi Jacobson Nov. 4, and a sold-out crowd packed into Garrison Theater to listen to her speak. 

Jacobson is best known for her role as creator and star of the Comedy Central series “Broad City,” which follows co-dependent, stoner best friends Abbi and Ilana (based off of Jacobson and her co-creator Ilana Glazer) as they navigate their late-twenties in New York City.

Writer and comedian Lena Waithe joined Jacobson on stage, where the women primarily discussed the release of Jacobson’s new book, “I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff,” as part of the author’s ongoing book tour.

The book, which she released Oct. 30, came out one week after Jacobson’s last day of shooting for the fifth and final season of “Broad City,” which will premiere in January 2019.

Opening the conversation, Waithe asked Jacobson for her feelings on the show’s conclusion, now ten years after its original inception as a web series.

“It was so sad shooting this [last] scene,” Jacobson said. “Knowing it was the last scene I was going to do with Ilana as Abbi and Ilana … it was just so much.”

Nonetheless, Jacobson explained that ending the show now was a necessary decision, and she “could not be happier” with how the final season ends.

Jacobson went on to say that her anticipation of the “Broad City” finale played a big role in prompting her decision to start working on the book, which is comprised of personal essays centered around the thoughts and experiences she had while on a three weekslong, post-breakup roadtrip.

When asked why she chose to take up another big project so quickly, she explained: “The show was a good distraction from this heartbreak, but the edit was coming to an end, and I was just like, fuck, I’m just going to be in this shitty zone.”

Jacobson said one of her biggest challenges in writing “I Might Regret This” was handling such personal subject matter.

“Usually I write about how I feel about bagels,” she said. “It was very challenging to find my voice.”

Ultimately, the writing process allowed her to find that voice. She sees the release of the book as a new step in a long career trajectory, and believes it will help her begin to distance herself from “Broad City” and other prior work.

Anisha Kaul SC ’20, who attended the talk, said she appreciated Jacobson’s emphasis on her individual work.

“It’s nice to think that her career is only just beginning,” she said. “I really appreciated that [Jacobson] distinguished herself from her character on “Broad City.”

On the book’s content, Jacobson said each essay is tied to a different city, and deals with subject matter varying from “climate change, to he-who-must-not-be-named, to scrunchies.”

At the end of the discussion, Jacobson transitioned into a Q&A session with the audience.

In response to a “Broad City” related question on how to make a web series successful, Jacobson reminded aspiring creators to “keep your eyes on your own paper … find your voice and what makes your web series different.”

Waithe also added her take, saying: “With Issa Rae and ‘Broad City,’ the web series wasn’t [yet] so saturated. You have to do something that really breaks ground.”

Jacobson reassured her young audience in attendance, pointing out that it’s okay to not know what you’re going to do in life. In discussing her early 20’s, she said: “I was very conflicted about all my interests. I worked at Anthropologie and as an assistant at a bakery. I highly recommend not knowing what you’re doing when you’re 21.”

To see a full video of the conversation or find more information on upcoming events in the speaker series, visit the Scripps Presents Facebook page.

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