Live Mic: Best of TPL Conversations

Abbi Jacobson: I Might Regret This

Episode Summary

When Abbi Jacobson announced to friends and acquaintances that she planned to drive across the country alone, she was met with lots of questions and opinions: the most common one… why? Abbi had always found comfort in solitude, and needed space to step back and hit the reset button. As she spent time in each city and town on her way to Los Angeles, she mulled over the big questions — What do I really want? What is the worst possible scenario in which I could run into my ex? How has the decision to wear my shirts tucked in been pivotal in my adulthood? Abbi Jacobson sat down with Rachel Giese to discuss this collection of anecdotes, observations and reflections–all told in the sharp, wildly funny, and relatable voice that has endeared Abbi to critics and fans alike. Abbi Jacobson is one of the series creators, executive producers, and stars of Comedy Central’s critically acclaimed hit show Broad City. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the illustrated book Carry This Book, and has also created two coloring books: Color This Book: New York City and Color This Book: San Francisco. She is the host of A Piece of Work, the Webby Award-winning podcast from the Museum of Modern Art and WNYC Studios. Rachel Giese is an award-winning journalist and the editorial director of Xtra, the world’s oldest LGBTQ2 media organization. Her book Boys: What it Means to Become a Man was named one of the Globe and Mail’s 100 favourite books of 2018. For years, her weekly column on politics, pop culture and feminism appeared in Chatelaine, where she was the editor-at-large. She is also a regular contributor to CBC Radio and the Globe and Mail. Giese has taught journalism at Ryerson University, and U of T’s Munk School of Global Affairs. She lives in Toronto with her wife and son. This conversation took place on June 16, 2019 at the Toronto Reference Library’s Bram & Bluma Appel Salon.

Episode Notes

*Note: given the current temporary closure of TPL due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made our best efforts to offer suggestions below for materials which are part our online collections, and available at home to anyone with a current Toronto Public Library card.

Why are wait time for ebooks or audiobooks sometimes so long? Learn more about limits on the number of eBook copies and the length of time they can be borrowed.

Books by Abbi Jacobson

I Might Regret This

Books by Rachel Giese

Boys: What it Means to Become a Man

Referenced in this interview and other related material

The Broad Strokes (Interview with Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer in Grantland)

Broad City Is Ending. Be at Peace With That. The Creators Are. (NY Times Article)

Ilana Glazer Comedy Special, The Planet is Burning

The Genius of Broad City (article from The Guardian)


Live Mic: Best of TPL Conversations features curated discussions and interviews with some of today's best-known and yet-to-be-known writers, thinkers and artists, recorded on stage at one of Toronto Public Library's 100 branches.

Episodes are produced by Natalie Kertes, Jorge Amigo, and Gregory McCormick. Technical support by Michelle De Marco and George Panayotou. AV support by Jennifer Kasper and Mesfin Bayssassew. Marketing support by Tanya Oleksuik.

Music is by The Worst Pop Band Ever.


Episode Transcription

Live Mic: Best of TPL Conversations

Abbi Jacobson with Rachel Giese


Gregory McCormick (GM): Welcome to Live Mic: Best of TPL Conversations, our regular Toronto Public Library podcast series featuring curated discussions and interviews with some of today’s best-known and yet-to-be-known writers, thinkers and artists, recorded on stage at one of Toronto Public Library’s 100 branches.




Rachel Giese (RG): So, I wanted to start with... We'll get to the book in a minute, but I wanted to start with Broad City. It's been just a few months since the final episode aired and maybe five months since you actually wrapped production. So, how have you been dealing with this chapter of your work life coming to a close?

Abbi Jacobson (AJ): Yeah. It's been a very bizarre time. Usually, after we're finished airing a season, we have... Or producing a season, we have this hiatus in between, so this is very much the usual. I can work on other projects and all this, but I know we will begin again. And so I'm in that time and I just now, I'm like, "Okay, we won't begin again." So, it doesn't feel... I don't think I really feel it yet. Yeah. I don't know, I'm just trying to work on other things, see what sticks. This past week, I went on a mini Ilana Glazer tour, which was very fun. She just did...

RG: As a groupie or...


AJ: Well, I wanted to be there... She was on a tour, an actual stand-up tour. I wasn't just following her around, but I would... [laughter] She did a tour around, I think, the south of the US and it ended in her taping a special that will be on Amazon. I went to the last two dates, and so we're very... It just makes me happy that I can go and support her, and that we're still working together even if we're not... Even if it's just supporting each other.

RG: And how did you and Ilana come to the decision to wrap it up after the five seasons on Comedy Central?

AJ: Yeah. We knew how it would end for a little while. We knew... I don't wanna... Am I spoiling it for anybody?

RG: It was March, so...

AJ: It was March...

RG: I feel like people need to catch up, if they're behind...

[overlapping conversation]

RG: What are they even doing here?


AJ: So, we knew that I was gonna go to this artist residency, or Abbi... It's hard for me to differentiate. I was gonna go to this artist residency for a long time, and we knew that that's how it would end. We didn't know exactly how we'd get there, and it was after we had aired season four, and we were in this hiatus period in between, and we just started to feel like this feels right and it feels like it's at a point where people are still loving the show. We don't ever wanna cross over where people are like, "Why is this still on the air?" And also the more we really got into it, the more... It's really about your 20s in New York. And so my character is a little older than Ilana's in real life and on the show. And we felt like birthdays were always a big deal on the show and so Abbi turning 30 and really making that arc the last season for her was the way to go, and it just felt so right. I really give it to Comedy Central, because it was not supposed to end in five seasons and we were contracted for longer. And they really let us creatively end, which I don't think a lot of networks would have done.

RG: Yeah. And over the arc of the series, it actually started even five years earlier...

AJ: Yeah, we started in 2009.

RG: Yeah, as webisodes on... Web series on YouTube. But as the series went on, it always had it, but this kind of fantastic weirdness and this kind of fun stoner energy. It was never earnest. It might have been moving, but it was never earnest. And yet towards the end, particularly after 2016, or in 2016, there began some of the politics and I think the real life context for the characters of Ilana and the character of Abbi sort of crept in. And I wonder if you could talk a bit about why you made the choice. Hillary Clinton came on the show, for instance, and why the two of you made that choice to let the real world intrude a little bit in the universe that you had created?

AJ: Yeah. Early on, it started as a sliver of these sketches of the characters and they were... And even early on in the TV version, it was always this feeling of these two are out in the city and some of the shitty things they're experiencing are blown up, so there's a lot of... We would do it a lot in cold opens and we called them "pop-outs," which is like the bank scene where I do an illustration and we're like... It's trying to show visually how you feel. And so there's another one where we are having a duelling drum thing, but we're just playing the drums in a music store, but it's like how do you feel when you're doing that is actually like a heightened version, and then you pop out and you're in... The guy's like, "Get the fuck out of here." [laughter] And that was just how we felt living in New York for a long time, and that's where we based a lot of the little nuggets for the show.

AJ: And then I feel like there were always little pieces of us commenting on the world around us and things we cared about, but it was after the election, we had written, I think it was, season four. Yeah. So, we had written season four before the election and went on this hiatus, but we knew actually after the election, Ilana and I were coming back to rewrite a couple of things anyway. And when we came back, it was literally the week after the election and it was all we could talk about, and it was devastating. I feel like if it was devastating here a little, it was really devastating there. We were like, "What the fuck?" [laughter] And we have an actual reality game show host as the President. It's still happening, I don't know.

AJ: So, it was just this organic thing that it couldn't not be in the show. There's one episode, that we really went into it, which was Ilana not being able to orgasm since the election, and that was really... I think it actually happened to a lot of people literally and also... [laughter] But it was also just... Again, it's the feeling of even experiencing joy, stuff was like... Everyone was just like... And so we really went for it in that episode. But over four, when we rewrote it, we infused certain things. There was a cold open where we are escorting a young woman into an abortion clinic and that was written before, but it holds... It really holds more meaning now, but it just felt more meaningful and significant that we do that then. Yeah, that was the US. I answered it, right?


RG: Yes, you did. You did. There was this terrific Grantland profile of you and Ilana in 2015, when the two of you told the writer, Rachel Syme, that you credited your success to the fact that you always presented yourself in meetings as an unbreakable partnership. And then Ilana had said, "Some people are scared of us, and some think we are dumb little girls. But the way we combat that is being ourselves in meetings. And having a partner makes that so easy, because when all else fails, I'll just talk across the table at Abbi like we are chilling by ourselves." And I thought that was so significant to... There are so many creative people for whom a partnership is not a welcome thing. They don't wanna collaborate, they're not interested in a shared vision with somebody else. And so I wanted to ask you what it was like to have this creative partnership, this decade-long creative partnership with somebody, and how did that enable you to grow as an artist and find a voice through this partnership?

AJ: Yeah, I feel very lucky to have found Ilana and built this thing together. As it says in the book, we met in 2007 and did improv together. We were the only two women on the team. And then we both were struggling with getting on anything. We couldn't... We just weren't successful at the theatre that we were at. And we realized that our friendship was just different than any of our other friendships. There was just this dynamic and support. And then so we started doing the web series, but simultaneously we were always doing our own thing. Ilana was always doing stand-up, which leads to her special. And then I was always doing more characters, sketch stuff. And that has always existed throughout the whole thing, so we've always been... Broad City has been our priority, but we've always done separate projects, always written individually.

AJ: And the core partnership really allowed those individual voices to shine too because, I think, we needed that base structure to hold it there. And there's no one else that has a more parallel timeline than her. And so now we can kind of confide in each other these other things going on, like no one else can understand. I haven't heard that Rachel Syme interview in quite some time, but it's interesting, I have... I'm doing this other project right now, and it's me. And I am working with someone else, but it still feels like I'm alone on it. And I had a call two days ago, and I was one of those versions that Ilana said, where I was like, "This would have been way easier with her next to me," because I was like, "They either think I'm such an asshole right now or I'm an idiot." And it's still very much there. I'd prefer the asshole, but who knows?


RG: Yeah. And I think the thing that could never be stated enough is the fact that you were two young women in your 20s and you didn't just sell this idea and let somebody else produce it. You created it, you executive produced this. In any of the profiles of the two of you during the Broad City period, what gets underlined again and again is how hard the two of you worked and how every single detail you were on top of. And I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit about the factors for your success. What was in place, whether it was in your individual temperaments or did you find the right people who allowed you to have this vision in this project?

AJ: I definitely think that the team around us, like any show or film that... I think you can tell. Maybe not, maybe there are some films that you hear about behind the scenes and it was terrible. And you're like, "But the film is incredible." I don't know. I think, with comedy, you can tell. It felt like a family, what we had going. And a lot of the people that were chosen to be our department heads were chosen by our production company, Jax, and so they knew us and knew who to pick for us. And some people change. Some people, "Get out." [chuckle] But for the most part, a lot of people were with us the entire five years and I think that's rare in the New York television world.

AJ: But on top of that, Ilana and I were extremely micromanage-y. I think, micromanage-y but also wanting collaboration. Everyone, from the props to the set designers to casting, it was all about like, "Okay, we want this, but you are... Please bring us your ideas. Please." I think that that's... When people are given that opportunity, they rise to meet it, instead of being... I think that door has to be open first. Yeah, I think we really did... Yeah, it was an exhausting but lovely, joyous ride.

RG: Yeah. And at the time, you had done this web series, these short little clips that were on YouTube, and it was quite unusual at that time to move from creating content for a platform like YouTube to actually getting your own show. I think Issa Rae was making that transition with Awkward Black Girl to Insecure around the same time, and then High Maintenance came later. And I think what we're also seeing... The platforms, like YouTube, allowing creators that might not get a foot in the door otherwise.

AJ: Yeah.

RG: And I think what we're seeing now maybe is some of the fruit of that work. Aside from Issa Rae, there's also Tanya Saracho who created Vida, Lauren Morelli, who was a writer on Orange Is the New Black, and she was the show runner for the new Tales of the City reboot on Netflix. And these creators, women, women of color, queer women, are also bringing in writers' rooms that are more inclusive and diverse, and bringing in production teams that are more inclusive and diverse. Do you feel that this is a permanent transformation in film and television? Do you think the seed has been properly planted for there to be more diversity in creators and more inclusiveness in writers' rooms?

AJ: I do. I mean, it's hard to say, 'cause I still feel like there's so much more to do and so much more to change in that aspect, but I do. Ilana and I were... We were a little bit sheltered in our creative experience. We were in New York, and most TV and film is in LA, and we were a little out of the business. But it definitely is the more diverse... Yeah, the more diverse creators that are given the reins, the more diverse everyone below them will be. And that is without a doubt. Yeah, I do think it is changing, but I still also think that there's endless stories of people being, like, "Well, there's already one gay show on our network, so... Well, there's already one Black show on the network, so we can't do anything about it." And it's like, "I think you can. What are you talking about?


AJ: It truly is, every other, there can only be one or two. But it's never like, "We already got our straight white man show. We can't do it." [laughter] It's like truly not... Ever been spoken, but that is... There are a lot of those. Yeah. I actually... Where was I? I was online. I was online. [laughter] I was on the plane yesterday, I was like, "What screen was I on? That's where I visit mostly." And I was looking at the TV shows on the plane. Guys, Air Canada is dope. [laughter] I don't know if I've been on a nicer flight. Our show was on the TV. That's not... Never a thing. Truly I've never seen Broad City on a plane. I was like, "Okay." I didn't watch it. That would be fucked up.

RG: I was gonna say, did you...


AJ: That'd be fucked up. Can you imagine if you were like, "They're watching their own show." Didn't do it. Maybe on the way back, okay. But I was scrolling and I was like, fuck... There's all these rebooted shows or... Where the cast is just white people. And I am a white person, so that's easy for me to say. But it's just like it still is so every so often you get that. There are just thousands of shows now, so I think there's more diversity, but there's a lot. I just think there's a lot more to do.

RG: Yeah. There was another interview right at the end back in March right as the show was wrapping up with Dave Itzkoff at The New York Times.

AJ: New York Times is a big interview.


RG: I was gonna say, I... I just wanted to drop that in.

AJ: No big deal, whatever.

RG: And the two of you were talking about the queerness of the show and you had said, I feel like our show has been so queer from the get-go. And then Ilana said queerer than we knew behind the scenes, in front of the cameras, everyone who works with us has gotten queerer and queerer in the past six years. So, how queer did it get?


AJ: Rachel...


AJ: Yeah, I mean I think what we meant, I said the first one...

RG: Yeah. You said the first...

AJ: I said the first line?

RG: Yeah.

AJ: What I meant, and what Ilana and I have just talked about the show being queer is just... I think it was always seen as queer too, even the way we were friends. But the friend... [laughter] Like I don't know, take that back. Delete that. But even just the Jaime is based on my real best friend Jaime from college and Ilana's two best friends from college, and the even just... That's the beginning of the TV show. But even in the web-series I don't know what it was. I think just our mentality whether it was really out there on the surface or not, was always attempting to be very inclusive and I think that we've probably tripped up a little bit with that every once in a while, but that was always our intention to be as inclusive as possible and as the years went on, Ilana Wexler is obviously the most fluid, the most... She's so fluid that she's like homophobic... I'm kidding. But she is so anti-racist that sometimes she does border on racism. But it's always coming from good intention. It's never... I'm just repeating an actual line from the show. I watched it on the plane, whatever.


AJ: So, Ilana's always been like that, been so open and I think... That was like a joke, which is it became queerer than we thought, which is me in real life but also crew members too, sort of started to be like, "I'm dating a woman now," and we're like... Truly multiple, multiple main crew members just sort of realized that part of themselves. It was wonderful, yeah.

RG: It was like a recruitment project.

AJ: Yep, type it up. Yes, we were out there on the streets, come on in. [laughter] No, I think when you're... I think just because the space and the crew and the set was so... Even the straight dudes on set, just their mentality became queer, and they just became more aware of queer people, and so they were... It was just like a very loving set.

RG: Yeah, yeah. I wanna get to the book...

AJ: No, I don't wanna...

RG: I know. I fell like the queer thing was the nice segue into the book because as you write near the beginning, for the longest time you saw yourself as someone who couldn't fall in love. You dated, you hooked up, you had crushes, but no big relationships. And even at one point you had a friend who said that she couldn't imagine you ever with someone, because you were too set in your ways.

AJ: Yes, this is my best friend.


RG: Yeah, yeah.

AJ: You know what? It's funny, she won't watch this, I don't think she's read the book.

RG: She has read the book? You don't think she has?

AJ: I don't think so. This is so I'm like sharing this... Another friend told her about that, another friend knew it was her, and was like, "Did you read Abbi's book?" And then yes, I don't think she even knows she said it. It's very interesting. It's so interesting when someone doesn't know they really impacted you with a line. So you know what I mean?

RG: Yeah. Can you talk a bit about how that landed on you to have someone assess you that way?

AJ: Well, I think the thing was that to her, this is not... This is a different best friend, this isn't Ilana. That'd be crazy. I think to her it wasn't an insult. I don't know how, but I think it was more like, "You're so independent. I can never... " I don't know. There's a part of it that's like, it's gotta be. But it was... Yeah, she said it so long ago, it really stuck with me.

RG: Yeah, yeah. And then when you did fall in love, deep, deep love for the first time, it was with a woman. And up until that point, you had kinda been open to the idea that you could be attracted to a woman, but you hadn't sort of pursued that attraction and you write that looking back, you wish that you'd... You said, "I wish I'd questioned myself and the world I grew up in more." In another point in the book you say that you regret not having hooked up with a woman in art school, where everyone hooked up with... I think everyone hooked up with a girl in art school, except for you, maybe.

AJ: I don't know. But what the fuck? I truly am like... Is that my mic?

RG: No, I think it's like a motorcycle or something.

AJ: No, I truly am like, "What a waste of fucking time. What was I doing?" I'm mad about it.

RG: What held you back? What was it that was a barrier to you questioning the world or imagining yourself with a woman at that time?

AJ: I think I was like... I don't know. I think in college, I was like, well, if anything ever happens here we go. And it didn't. I would kind of go after the guys I had felt that way about. I don't know the age range in here, but I'm 35... Yeah. But I feel like my age is the last generation that could even somehow go through their life as a kid, and in their 20s, and not question their sexuality in that way. Maybe I'm wrong and I'm like a fucking idiot, but I feel like... It was just like I truly... There were two out gay guys in my grade up until high school, no one else, it was like Will and Grace. That's it. And I'm like, well, I'm not Will or... It just didn't make me... I don't know. It feels like a bizarre thing to... I guess, I was 32 and I was like, "What the fuck have you been doing? You're kind of just coasting."

AJ: And also I was working a lot. I write about that a lot, how I'm a workaholic and I think that allowed me to kind of not focus on my personal life. So, I don't know. Yeah, I wish that I had examined myself in that way. I think that younger people now, in a great way, there's so much content that it's like, "Oh, yeah. That's me." I'm like... And it also makes so much sense that why Ilana and I... Ilana is like the sherpa into... But she's also married to a guy, she's married to a blonde man.


AJ: But in the best... They're the queerest straight couple. Or I don't even know if that would say that. Let them label themselves.

RG: Yeah. So there's a moment in the book when you describe kind of the recognizing when you see this woman, that there was this recognition of, "Oh, that's... I think I'm attracted to this person. I have this feeling." But then there was also this beat of hesitation. You write about the fact that you had gained a lot of confidence with guys that you would feel really comfortable. You had sort of a really good line, a pick-up line.


AJ: It's still my pick-up line. It's not a pick-up line, it's, "Hey, I think you're adorable. You're... Something of that nature. Do you wanna get a drink, no pressure," that's it. But truly that takes people. It's jarring to people because it's also like, "I'm not in love with you. I just wanna get a drink and get to know you better. I might not like you after," but I was very much in the mindset of... Yeah, so when I turned 30 I was like, "Fuck this, I'm gonna just ask any, at the time it was any guy out that I was interested in," and I did it and I was like, "Okay, okay." And then I was... Yeah, I write about it in the book, I was at this birthday party, and I was talking to this guy that I had just met and I was like, "Okay, what are we talking about? Whatever." And then I was like... I was kind of only seeing her in the party, and then I went back up to my hotel room and I was like, "Oh, if she was a guy, I would text her immediately and ask her out, like all the other guys." And then I was like, "What am I doing, who cares?"

AJ: It was really as simple as that. It was truly as simple as I completely wrote the character Abbi to have in the show and it wasn't fully me being like, "I'm interested in women too and blah blah... " It felt very specific to her at the moment, but it was just a very a simple thing of like I feel this way about this person. Why would I not go after it? I do feel I kinda struggle with that a little bit because I feel bad that I didn't... I didn't struggle with it, if that makes sense. I feel bad that I came to that at a point in my life where I was like... I'm surrounded by queer people. I feel accepted and this isn't something I'm in any way ashamed of and I do feel like I somehow... I don't know. If that makes sense...

RG: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That it wasn't tortured.

AJ: It wasn't torture. Yeah, yeah. I wish it wasn't...

RG: Yeah, for anybody.

AJ: For anybody, but I feel very lucky that I... I don't know, that's my story, that's my version of it. But yeah, I didn't struggle with it my whole childhood and everything.

RG: Yeah, yeah. And so then you have your big love with this person. And then it ends and you're devastated and so you decide that you're gonna embark on this three-week road trip by yourself from New York to LA and that becomes this book. So when you set out to go on this road trip, what were you hoping to get out of it? What were you hoping it would help you do in terms of getting over the relationship or reckoning with the relationship?

AJ: Yeah, so I had been... We were shooting Season 4, basically right after I was broken up with. I wonder if you can see it in the... But it was a really crazy time for me. But also thank God I was working on that because I was totally distracted and overwhelmed with the show and work and everything. And so, it was starting... It was almost ending. We sit and edit the entire time and the edit was gonna be over and then I was like, "I don't wanna just be sitting in this still." And so I was like, "I need to go on a vacation, but I can't, there's no way I wanna go and sit on a beach or... I will be miserable." And so I was like, "I'm gonna sell a book. I'm gonna write a book and get me on the road."

AJ: But truly that's how crazy I was about working where I was like, "The only way I'm gonna take a vacation, is if I plan this trip because of the book, and then I have to write about it after I get there, but I will have to go on this." And I got crazy, it was manic. While we were editing, I would go and pitch this book in the morning and at night to all these publishers and I didn't... This is not how books are sold. I didn't even have a full pitch. I just told them how I was feeling and how... In a planned, professional way. I was just like, "I feel like this is a thing that people would relate to or I'm devastated, but I'm doing... I'm living my dream, but I'm devastated at the same time, and I've never been in love with a woman or dated a woman at all, and now I'm all what the fuck's going on?"

AJ: And so I had to be in LA in three weeks and I had a car in New York and I was like, "Fuck it." And I didn't know what it was gonna be. I didn't really know exactly what this book would be until I wrote the book from August when I got to LA, to August. And I took a lot of... I wrote and I took a lot of pictures and everything while I was on the road and I wrote a lot of how I was feeling and then I sort of figured it out afterward.

RG: Yeah. One of the big themes in the book as you're on the road trip is navigating the desire for independence with loneliness. And you had made this deal with yourself when you turn 30, to try to live your life without needing anyone else. And that was before you had the relationship where you then opened yourself up and got hurt. And so, it's quite heartbreaking when you decide that you're going to stay at this B&B, it's this dream of yours to stay at this B&B. So you go to Ashville and it's full of couples having like, a romantic getaway.

AJ: It's pretty obvious that that would be. I don't know what I... I don't know what was going on.

RG: Yeah, so can you talk a little bit about navigating the desire for independence and also the feelings of loneliness that came out during this trip?

AJ: Yeah, I mean I think it is exactly what you said, I think... I think if I had taken the road trip, well, obviously before this relationship, the sense of independence and loneliness that kind of simultaneously existed in my life would have ping ponged back and forth still, but it was that I had opened myself up so it was like I was very different. And I don't know, I think that that is not... That's a thing that is still in my life right now. I'm very, very independent person and with... I don't know, with that comes loneliness, I think.


AJ: Yeah, I mean the bed-and-breakfast was just hilarious. What an idiot. Also, I'm not a fan of bed and breakfast, it's like no, I'm like, "I don't think I would go even if I was going with somebody," it's a lot, there's a lot going on. You were right up on... It's a lot.


RG: Yeah. There's no privacy. No.

AJ: You know, what was I doing? Ashville was the place for me to do it. There's truly tons of them, and tons of verandas but... Yeah, I don't know, that question is something that I continue to kinda struggle with 'cause I don't know.

RG: There's this really terrific essay near the end of the book and it's this piece where you're kind of imagining all the scenarios in which you will bump into your ex again for the first time after the break up. And it was so relatable. I feel like everyone has kind of gone through this process. You talk about what if you bumped into her when you were sweaty after a workout. What if you bump into her when you're in a bookstore and you're not holding Rebecca Solnit collection, but you're holding like a Guy Fieri cookbook?

AJ: Yep.


RG: What if you're on a bad hair cut?

AJ: It can happen at any moment.

RG: Exactly. So can you talk about some of the fears and imaginings that you had when it came to writing that essay?

AJ: Yeah, you know, so that essay comes toward the end of the book. But actually when I was sitting down to write it, which... Writing a book about yourself is the hardest thing you can do. It's just very scary. And I got... I was writing a lot of it in LA, I was going back and forth still and I was just like how to... I'm used to sharing so much of myself in a certain way on Broad City but I get to hide behind the Abrams of it all, and she's also a very heightened version of me. And so I think we've spent enough time together you guys can tell. We're very different. I'm...


AJ: But you know, there are differences. I really, she... I get to wear my emotions on my sleeve and bumble around a little bit as Abbi on the show, but in this I really intended to be more me, but that essay is written in this very stylized way. And it was actually the first essay I wrote, in the whole book. Because I don't know, once I found it, it was so relieving to get to play out all these scenarios and some are completely ridiculous. My favorite one is, "What if I decided to go on a trip and I wanted to go scuba diving, and I've decided to take the scuba diving lessons where you have go into the pool and do the whole thing you know I had to think... And I'm under the pool and what if she is it down there? She's in scuba diving lessons too and like we're down there, how could I explain that like I don't even have a trip plan like, I don't know, how could I explain all that?

AJ: And so it just was really fun and cathartic for me to like... 'Cause it is such a scary thing. I think everyone, whether you have this kind of a situation, with an ex or an ex-best friend or someone you grew up with or... There are these people out there living and you're like any moment here, this could get fucked up, and I'm not prepared. And so I was like this is so... I don't know, it just felt good for me to write it, and I felt like that would be good for other people. So relatable. And my mom read it, and she was like, "This is so great that she's so happy and you're so happy, and I was like, this is... No, no, no. And I think some people didn't get the tone of it. I also read the book on an audio book and you really get the tone of it if you listen to that chapter. Some are more stylized but... Yeah, I don't know, it's a tough... You gotta kinda always be your best self, I guess.


AJ: Always be ready. It could be happening to some of you right here. After we're done, someone might be here that you don't know is here, and listen y'all look great.

RG: I know. Everyone's dressed like really good.

AJ: It's gonna be okay.

RG: Their hair looks good, they all look cute.

AJ: Everyone's looking good.

RG: I know it's true.



GM: On the Live Mic episode page,, you will find biographies of featured writers, guests and hosts, as well as links to TPL’s collections or other episode-related materials. For all of TPL’s podcast series go to

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Live Mic: Best of TPL Conversations is produced by the Toronto Public Library. Episodes are produced by Natalie Kertes, Jorge Amigo, and me, Gregory McCormick. Technical support by Michelle De Marco and George Panayotou. AV support by Jennifer Kasper and Mesfin Bayssassew. And marketing support by Tanya Oleksuik.

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I’m Gregory McCormick, Manager of Cultural and Special Event Programming at Toronto Public Library. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for another episode of Live Mic: Best of TPL Conversations.