From webseries to Comedy Central to Cannes: “Broad City” takes its success story to MIPTV

Broad City began as a webseries by Upright Citizens Brigade performers Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer, and after 35 webisodes and the approval of Amy Poehler, made the leap to TV. Broad City just wrapped its first season on Comedy Central, with a renewal for more episodes in 2015.

That’s the short story. Perhaps you heard or read it before.

What happened, and what happened next, is what you see here, as Poehler, Jacobson and Glazer, along wtih Comedy Central President Kent Alterman, made the trip to Cannes in France for the annual MIPTV confab to talk shop and sell to the global marketplace. Poehler recalled having a good work history with Alterman — he had executive-produced her Upright Citizens Brigade sketch series for Comedy Central long before he was an executive there.

Moderator¬†Nancy Tartaglione, International Editor for Deadline Hollywood (the site Nikki Finke built), noted that Comedy Central has a recent track record of bringing webseries up to full-length TV series — citing Workaholics, Drunk History and Broad City.

“I think the main thing about the web, I think, is the exposure,” Alterman said. “It’s a great way to get to know not only, you know, them as talent, but also you can see — Amy mentioned their work ethic — you can see how much they put into it. So there’s a lot of other aspects. But ultimately, the thing that matters the most is the talent and the creative vision. And that was clear from the beginning.”

He didn’t worry about people perceiving Comedy Central as a boy’s club or network audience of only manboys. “To me, funny is funny. The thing that matters more than anything is that they are hilarious. And so appealing. And so genuine,” Alterman said.

“I don’t think there is anything exclusive about their comedy or their sensibility.”

A sizzle reel that introduced their panel boasted that Broad City, with 1.2 million viewers weekly, garnered Comedy Central’s best ratings for a first-season series in two years among ages 18-34, as well as among men 18-34.

You’ll also hear them talk about making the transition from web to TV — why the technology and access means there is “nothing holding you back” now, and why the quality of your content and message matters more than the number of YouTube views when considering whether your message can translate in a half-hour on TV.

Watch the whole keynote panel, “The Power of Comedy: Laughing its way from online to linear,” here:

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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