Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, the stars and perpetrators of the Comedy Central series "Broad City," brought their road show to the Troubadour in West Hollywood on Saturday night. ("Doug Weston's Troubadour," they knew to say.) The pair have been out touring in advance of the premiere of their series' second season, which begins Jan. 14 on Comedy Central; indeed, this trip was postponed from last spring in order to film it.
They are having a rock-star moment, with rock-star poses.
At the second of two sold-out Troubadour shows Saturday, Abbi and Ilana came out dancing -- hard -- to Beyoncé's "Get Me Bodied," and to the screams and cheers and whoops of an audience that in no small part reflected the women onstage. It was not so much a bit as it was a promise, a throwdown, a commitment to go all in and all out, and a kind of celebration too -- something that seemed public and private at once. Later that night they would do a third show, an after-hours set at the new Sunset Boulevard theater of the Upright Citizens Brigade, at whose New York branch the women met -- and met Amy Poehler, who would become the executive producer and patron saint of their series. (Poehler, too, believes in the power of dance.)
There is a special thrill in being in the room when an artist and an audience are finding each other-- you can feel the electricity of mutual recognition. The performers' collaboration is not new; theirs is the well-known overnight sensation years in the making. But "Broad City" the TV show -- Abbi and Ilana, more and less restrained, more and less confident, respectively, have adventures in New York -- has within its substantial niche succeeded widely and wildly. It is on the top 10 in both the best show and best new show categories in this year's HitFix TV critics poll, out today. They are a thing now.
The live show -- substantially the same as played elsewhere, a little light digging reveals -- was dominated by a long routine based around significant life moments (birth, puberty, sex, death, basically) and the songs they would use to soundtrack them. Each also took a solo turn onstage: Jacobson offered a halting confessional whose shaggy-dog punch line was that her father shot the pictures that appear above the counter in every Chinese take-out place in the country; Glazer did micro-impressions that made me think of Bob and Ray, because I am old enough to think of that.
The climax of the set was a drum battle; full kits were set up at each end of the stage. Glazer knows how to play them, and Jacobson knows how to play with them -- she did not drum, so much as embody, down to her hair, an idea of drumming. (Sometimes she actually hit them.)
The rock was appropriate to the occasion. (And, to the venue, after all.) Like a great pop band, Glazer and Jacobson are both of their crowd and above it, seeming to be within the pack they lead. Onstage, they embody a relationship, a shared narrative that by extension extends to the fans. They own the space and share it. They are both highly physical and, in a down and dirty way, priestly -- priestessly. The laughs didn't always come fast or loud, but the air of excitement maintained throughout: This was in any case, something more than an evening of comedy, with an an audience there for something more than laughs -- there to Be There, in that place, in this time, with those women. The feeling of community, even of communion, was unbroken.