Ilana Glazer Talks ‘Babes,’ Therapy, Toddler Parenting


For five seasons on Broad City, Ilana Glazer explored the intensity of female friendships in your 20s with reverence and absurdity. Now 37 and a mom of a 2-and-a-half-year-old girl, she has unleashed her raunchy-but-sweet comedic energy on motherhood and what happens to those intense female friendships when everybody starts getting pregnant. The experience inspired a new hour of stand-up as well as Babes, out May 17, directed by Pamela Adlon and co-written by Glazer. Glazer plays Eden, a yoga teacher from Queens who gets pregnant after a one-night stand and looks to her childhood best friend and mom of two, Dawn (Michelle Buteau), for help, drawing from Glazer’s own life in Brooklyn near two of her childhood best friends from Long Island.

Over eggs and salad at Glazer’s regular breakfast spot (she skips the toast because it’s Passover), she explains that with both the film and her stand-up, she wants to highlight how being a mom can actually be… fun. “I feel very powerful claiming my truth here in loving the experience,” she says. Before she continues, she says, “I’ll line up all the disclaimers.” She is partnered, resourced, white. “But I’m finding it extremely empowering to love my role as a parent, as told by me and not by others.”

“Also, I think claiming your joy makes claiming what’s hard a little easier, because it is really hard, and you need help, and you need to talk things out with other moms who’ve been there,” she adds.

We spend the morning talking about parenting as reparenting, touring with a toddler at home, and, of course, swapping birth stories. We discover we both successfully flipped our breech babies — me with an external cephalic version (ECV) in the hospital, her with the legendary Spinning Babies exercises at home. “I have a story in my stand-up about this,” she says, “and the punchline is ‘I did solo doggy style for 30 minutes, and it worked.’” See: fun!

At the very end of the film, your character has just had her baby, and she says something like “I can’t believe we don’t talk about this every day. I can’t believe this isn’t on the news: Babies coming out of vaginas.” Is that how you felt when you had your daughter?

One-hundred percent.

I thought the same thing.

I feel so disillusioned these days with where the world’s at, and it helps me to remember that this is not how things have to be. This is one simulation, this is one way to organize 8 billion people, to prioritize the wealth of a minority of men. But that moment in the movie is about “Imagine this is what we center.” This could be one way we center our world, around the miracle not of childbirth, but of humanity. It’s miraculous that we’re here. So that is how I felt, where I got this flash for a moment of a different world.

It’s wild. When you were writing Babes, what were some of the experiences that you wanted to include that you haven’t seen on screen before?

The whole pregnancy experience and birth from a woman’s perspective. I haven’t seen it before in a joyful, comedy context. I’ve seen it in trauma, which is important to represent. And then I’ve mostly seen it through men’s eyes.

Like a Knocked Up.

Yeah, in the birth scene in Knocked Up, Katherine Heigl’s “vagina,” quote-unquote, is the material of a sex doll, and there’s no hair or blood or sh*t. There’s no hair! There’s not even follicles. It’s the material of a sex doll. It’s not even that they got a stunt woman to play Katherine Heigl’s vagina; it’s a sex doll. And that’s the closest reference we have to our movie. We’re really parched for representation. I’m a white Jewish woman, and even I’m parched for representation.

Little picture, [I wanted to talk about] horniness while being pregnant, your boobs being out of control, that you have to birth the placenta…

No one tells you that!

No one tells you that, literally until you’re on the table.

And then they’re hitting your stomach, and you’re like, “What?” I thought you represented that very accurately.

Thank you! I wrote this movie with Josh Rabinowitz, but our manager and quarterback producer, Susie Fox, was the one who came to us with the idea. Josh’s wife and I were pregnant at the same time, and Susie had a 2- and a 4-year-old. And with all the stuff that we kept splashing down in our brainstorm, this funny pregnancy thing, your butt, your vagina, your boobs, you’re angry, you’re horny — the thing we kept coming to that was most compelling to us was how your friendships change.

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It’s huge. You can talk about how having a baby changes your marriage or your partnership, but I almost think the friendship thing is bigger.

Right. Having a baby is when your husband becomes your partner. To be a woman married to a man, it’s like, “He’s some man sometimes.” But then when you enter parenthood, I see why the term partner is relevant. You are my f*cking partner. We are teammates, and we have to keep choosing to be teammates, or we choose to not be, and if that’s better for everybody, that’s better for everybody. There’s only two choices there: You choose to move forward with your partner, or you don’t. But with friends, it’s much less clear than that.

After you became a mom, did you look back and think “Oh, I didn’t get this; I didn’t get that.”

My flaw is mythologically idealizing people, where I’m like, “She’s just amazing.” And I make them a magical thing distant from me. I do that when I love people. I put them above me. And then when I became a mom, I was like, “Oh. This is hilarious. We’re dogs. I’m a dog. I’m a mother dog. I’m not even a human. I’m lapping up milk from my own breast, so that it doesn’t get this cloth wet. I am my ancestor in a shtetl over a pot mixing oatmeal for the family in the morning.”

We had a night nurse who turned into our nanny, and in the beginning, I would wake up and make us all oatmeal. With this tribe mentality of everybody just doing their role, I realized, “Oh, this is messy and real. This is not some idea that is completed.” I chose to have a kid and really wanted one for this revelation, to have this experience of being forced to get messy in this way. I knew this was the way that I needed to learn that.

Tell me about the toddler phase.

It’s so hard. It’s so hard! Babies are so high needs but without the personality. With toddlers, there’s all this reasoning, and you can’t reason with someone who’s extremely drunk. You can’t reason with them! They’re all feeling. They have big feelings that their bodies can’t hold. And my goal right now in this toddler phase is to remember to gently guide and support those big feelings.

It’s hard to function. If we’re sitting at home all day, you can feel whatever you want and be messy, but if we want to go somewhere and do something? That’s when it gets hard. My husband has this almost frightening amount of patience, where I’m like, “Are you an angel in the sky?” And so he pulls me in that direction. And I have to just remember, who cares? We can be five minutes late to this toddler yoga class. It’s my idea of myself wanting to get an A or at least a B+.

I know you’ve talked about how your anxiety changes once you have a kid. For me, I feel like it melts away so much of my own worries about career stuff or the things that I used to obsess over. Now it’s like life and death every minute almost.

That’s exactly true to me. I say this in my stand-up: When they’re newborns, the anxiety is terror, because it feels like they’re on the edge of death at all times. They were just not alive. It’s insane. Also, where were they? Sh*t’s crazy. Why are we not steeped in the mysticism of our own existence all f*cking day, every day? But yes: When she was a newborn to 9 months old, who cares about anything? You just want to keep a baby alive, especially past f*cking SIDS. That 9-month mark, you’re like, “Let me just get to 9 months and then I can unclench my *sshole.”

Now having a toddler, I’ve reentered caring about my career. But even that has its own new level of realness. The ground underneath my feet is more solid. I’ve learned how to be more present, and I have been taking pleasure in my work. Now, if I’m not having fun, something’s off. Especially because I’m a comedian, I should definitely be having fun! I’m having fun doing press this time for the first time. I’ve always been anxious and self-critical. And now I’m having fun with it, and I’m like, I literally didn’t know that you could.

What has your experience been like touring? How do you manage child care with your husband?

I had this hour of material I was really excited about, but I was nervous about touring because I did not want to f*ck up my family, you know what I mean? I did not want to be separated all the time. And typically in stand-up, you tour weekends, so Fridays, Saturdays, and then Sundays you add a show on. And we chill hard on the weekends, my family. We chill hard. We are not the type to have a million things planned and run from thing to thing. So I was upset because I was like, “This is not only what I have to do for my job, but I want to do this. I want to go out on tour. I want to tell this material. How am I going to do this in a way that works for us?”

My husband and I talked about it and he was like, “What if you do another day that’s not a weekend?” And my mind blew up. I was like, “That’s crazy.” So I’ve been doing Thursdays, Fridays, and then home for the weekend.

Has the response to any of your new material surprised you?

Like with Babes, what’s considered funny or raunchy, I consider just real and true. So I’m always surprised when jokes like that land, because I’m like, “That’s just how I’m living.” I also talk about how joyous pregnancy is, and that’s how I open up this hour. I’m most shocked by the joy, and I find people are shocked by that.

With our poor mothers’ generation, there was this idea of performance, to be “on” for your kid. And no wonder we got all this comedy about depressed moms, because that’s really hard!

How are you liking parenting in New York?

City living as a new mom is really working for me. We have a nanny 32 hours a week, and our daughter has a little school program in the afternoons. When I’m not touring, I take Fridays off, and I just race in those 32 hours to get my work done. And then if I do stand-up at night, then my husband has a fun night with her. Part of what I like is that I can pop out at night and go do stand-up, or do some event or whatever, and it’s a 20-minute car ride back to my house. Last Friday, we walked to this toddler yoga class in an old church, picked up some treat somewhere, and then came back for lunch and nap time. And then Saturdays and Sundays, we chill hard. We love the botanical gardens. We love meeting up with her friends at a nearby park. The Met has a play space for kids — she was obsessed.

Do you subscribe to a specific parenting style?

I do a lot of therapy. I’m in analysis — Freudian analysis, three times a week.

That’s so New York!

It’s so New York, it’s so New York Jew. It is what it is. I get a lot of help from my analyst, because it’s all about the mind. My husband and I are very similar in this way: We just love psychology and being playful and creative. So we really subscribe to Donald Winnicott, the father of child psychology. He’s the first person and professional to recognize babies as different from adults, and to recognize the mother and the child as one unit that slowly separates. So the fourth trimester, you’re still one. Remember how that feels? You hear them cry and your heart races, and it’s like you have the same nervous system because you just did. And then it slowly separates. My mother, I’m still separating from her, and I’m 37. We’re always separating from our mothers our whole lives. And I did read the RIE book, Resources for Infant Educarers, by Magda Gerber. I actually found that helpful to reparent myself, too.

With our poor mothers’ generation, there was this idea of performance, to be “on” for your kid. And no wonder we got all this comedy about depressed moms, because that’s really hard! You don’t want to perform in your private life. You want to be real and authentic, so you can f*cking relax. That’s what I got from RIE: not performing for your kid and remembering to be authentic and accept yourself. That really bleeds onto your kid.

I really need to get into this; I have not even begun to look at any of it.

Allie, you don’t have to begin anything. I would get pulled into all these directions — this Instagram, that blog. And my analyst’s biggest contribution to me was to gently guide me to trust my instincts. So then I don’t have to do any homework.

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One of the lines from Broad City that my friends still quote all the time is “Marriage? Lincoln, I’m 27. What am I, a child bride?” I’m curious if you felt the same way about becoming a mom in your 30s, like, “Wait a minute, I’m a teen mom.”

I was just thinking about that line the other day and giggling to myself. Paul W. Downs really nailed the wording with that line. I was pitching the idea, and Paul really nailed that wording. Around 27, I think, is this time when you start to sense what your trajectory may be, what you may want. And when I was 27, I did want to have kids. I started getting really baby-hungry around 27, but I knew I couldn’t do it yet. Broad City ended at 32; I got pregnant at 33 and had a baby at 34. So by the time I did get pregnant, I was really ready. I was like, “I’ve waited seven years for this.” But I was so glad that I had, because I think that’s why it feels so joyful, because I chose this.

What’s one piece of advice you would give someone about to become a parent?

I would say, aim to take pleasure.

I love that.

Yeah, and I say “aim” so that you don’t feel sh*tty if you don’t enjoy every moment of it. Just aim!

Top Image Credits: St. Agni blazer, Michael Kors Collection sweater, Max Mara shorts, Jennifer Zeuner earrings, Manolo Blahnik shoes

Photographs by Vijat Mohindra

Styling by Sarah Slutsky Tooley

Set Designer: Taylor Horne

Hair: Sabrina Rowe

Makeup: Samantha Lau

Manicure: Sonya Meesh

Production: ­Cassidy Gill

Talent Bookings: Special Projects

Video: Rebecca Halfon, Sam Ari Cowan

Photo Director: Alex Pollack

Editor in Chief: Kate Auletta

SVP Fashion: Tiffany Reid

SVP Creative: Karen Hibbert



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