jokes

Broad City’s 40 Best Running Gags

Photo: Cara Howe/Comedy Central

If you go back and watch every episode of Broad City, you’ll quickly notice that Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer have left a trail of hilarious little Easter eggs across all five seasons of the Comedy Central series. While it’s not episodic in the typical sense of the word, Broad City’s running gags show just how well-written the show is, down to the jokes they thought were so nice they used them at least twice.

So before Broad City, which debuts its final season tonight, officially says good-bye, it’s worth taking a look back at 40 of the show’s best running jokes, from Ilana’s Beanie Baby obsession to Abbi’s most famous Soulstice client to everyone’s favorite North Brother Island mail keeper.

1. Abbi’s Training Shania Twain

Abbi’s favorite go-to lie is to tell people she’s training Shania Twain. Why? Well, who knows, but it does seem to impress people like Jeremy (Stephen Schneider), who’s the first person she tells in the first season’s “Working Girls,” and her dad (Tony Danza), who proudly asks Abbi about it in season three’s “Philadelphia.” After years of lying, though, it all comes full circle in season four’s “Twaining Day,” when Shania actually shows up to Soulstice — not really to work out, but to help Abbi and Trey (Paul W. Downs) rekindle their romance to a private performance of “Still the One.” So glad Abbi kept holding on to this lie.

2. Garol

Abbi’s escape to North Brother Island in “Working Girls” is where we first meet Garol, the yogurt-eating protector of the undelivered packages. But, it’s not the only time Garol (the late Virginia Robinson) pops up in these broads’ lives. She also happens to be an admirer of Val, Abbi’s nightclub-performing alter ego, and a fan of very large dildos, since that’s her in the sex shop in season four’s “Just the Tips.”

3. Kirk Steele

Thanks to Ilana’s interest in “frosted tips masturbation,” we learn in season two that before Trey was a trainer, he was a fledgling porn star named Kirk Steele who rides inflatable whales and does a mean Stanley Ipkiss impression. Turns out the Wexler siblings have similar taste in porn since Ilana’s brother Eliot (Glazer’s real brother Eliot) is watching his video in season three’s “2016.” He’s actually such a fan of Kirk Steele’s work that when Trey shows up later in the season to save his mom from choking on lychee, he giddily whispers Kirk Steele’s name. What a fanboy.

4. Where’s Melody?

It’s easy to forget that Abbi’s roommate isn’t actually Bevers (John Gemberling), it’s Melody, who is forever nowhere to be found. She’s off at her parents’ house in New Jersey during the first season’s “Hurricane Wanda,” where we get the only real glimpse of Melody in photos of her and Bevers. Of course, her face is obstructed in every shot, go figure? In season two’s “Mochalatta Chills,” Abbi just misses Melody before she heads off to Port-au-Prince to help build houses, and in “Citizen Ship” she’s too busy in the bathroom to meet up with Abbi. In “Sliding Doors,” the season-four episode that tells the origin story of Abbi and Ilana, alternate-universe Abbi makes a call to Melody requesting that Bevers doesn’t stay with them for more than a week. Looking back, this call really could have saved her a whole lot of money in cheese.

5. Abbi Loves Oprah

Oprah supplies Abbi with endless amounts of inspiration. She wakes up to a wall-size mosaic of Oprah every morning and lives it up on her birthdays since O once said it “dictates the year you’re going to have.” She uses an Oprah collage phone case, considers O to be one of the best “adult magazines” for a long plane ride, and cites episodes of her daytime show from memory. Specifically, that one where a girl saved herself from sexual assault by twisting a guy’s dick. “That’s always in the back of my mind,” Abbi admits in the season-four finale “Friendiversary.” But, by far, it’s her lower-back tattoo of Oprah, which we first see in “Hurricane Wanda” and get a glimpse of again when she’s dancing naked to Lady Gaga in “Mochalatta Chills,” that proves just how dedicated she is to the Queen of all Media. It almost makes you wish Jacobson really had that tattoo.

6. Lil Wayne

The Broad City premiere is soundtracked by Lil Wayne’s “A Milli.” Fitting, really, since the episode is all about Ilana trying to raise money to go see Weezy in concert. But it’s a little photo of Lil Wayne stuck on Ilana’s desktop screen that you’ll want to keep your eye on. That photo follows Ilana from Deals, Deals, Deals to her volunteer position at Hillary Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters and finally to Sushi Mambeaux, where young Moolah helps her make some real moolah. He’s clearly Ilana’s spirit animal, which is why Abbi surprises her on her 23rd birthday by making a reservation under his name. “It’s us,” Abbi tells Ilana in the season-two finale “St. Mark’s.” “We ARE Lil Wayne.”

7. Ilana & Rihanna

When she’s not living her life the Weezy way, Ilana follows the word of RiRi, who in her fantasies will one day lean in for a kiss and, well, things will only progress sexually from there. Until then, though, she follows the four R’s: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rihanna, which is the lesson she imparts on little Oliver in season two. A season later her mantra is “Madonna, Rihanna, Ilana,” which she turns into a singsongy celebration in “Burning Bridges,” only for it to later become a funeral song for her breakup with Lincoln (Hannibal Buress).

8. Drew Barrymore’s Perfect Suitcase

Abbi is a huge Drew Barrymore fan who, after having her wisdom teeth pulled in season two, does a spot-on Drew impression that Jeremy loves. But what she really loves about Drew is her taste in suitcases. Seriously, just Google “Refinery29” in quotes, “Drew Barrymore” in quotes, and you’ll learn all about the Burton bag that is the “perfect” packing suitcase. Even Eliot ends up taking Drew’s recommendation and buys the bag, which ends up getting lost in “Florida,” a real loss if you ask Abbi. Also, if you ask Abbi, she’ll let you know that the Hot Dream Q20X space heater, also a Barrymore fave, is worth the price. All of this leads Ilana to ask, “Do you get her credit-card statements or something?” No, Abbi doesn’t, she just thinks Barrymore has “great taste and, like, a pixie spirit.” Barrymore also has a great sense of humor; she auctioned off the original Burton bag in 2017 with all proceeds going to Planned Parenthood.

9. Abbi’s Blue Dress

Abbi originally buys her LBD for a Soho rooftop party in season two’s “Fattest Asses,” but it shows up time and time again when she needs to look her best. She wears that $438 dress in “Citizen Ship” to celebrate Jaimé’s citizenship (get it?), her first date with Trey in season three’s “Burning Bridges,” and most notably to her birthday dinner in the first season’s finale where an EpiPen adrenaline rush helps her carry a shellfish-shocked Ilana to safety. She’s not the only one who wears it, either. Bevers tries it on in the season-three premiere, while Abbi’s mom (Peri Gilpin) wears it when she comes to town the next season. Let’s bet she’ll wear this lewk at least once more before the show says good-bye.

10. Trey’s Devotion to Zach Braff

There is no bigger Zach Braff fan than Trey. In “Mochalatta Chills” he refers to training Bevers as his Garden State and in “Game Over” you can spot a photo of Braff in his gym locker. Even his porn-star persona says Garden State is his favorite movie, a joke that made Natalie Portman “insecure” about the film. Trey even donated $14,000, his whole savings, to Braff’s Kickstarter and didn’t even try to get his money back when they couldn’t bother to spell his name right in the credits or manage to schedule his set visit. That’s real devotion right there.

11. Ilana’s Beanie Baby Obsession

If there’s one thing Ilana knows about, it’s the fluctuating Beanie Baby market, which is cyclical and is why she’s having her most valuable Beanies appraised. Just talking about Beanie Babies gets Ilana “fiscally aroused,” especially when she’s talking about Abbi’s first-edition JonBenét Ramsey commemorative Beanie, which she finds in “Philadelphia.” That one, which is “more rare than the Princess Diana,” makes the Beanie boards light up. It also gives Ilana a chance to show off her Chinese, which she learned from her mom, natch. While she’s no sucker like Mr. Bubbles9560, she ultimately ends up giving JonBenét away to atone for Abbi’s sins, losing out on $13,000 — possibly more, depending on the strength of the yen.

12. Abbi’s Alter Ego Val

When Abbi hits a blackout level of drunk, Val comes out to play. Her old-timey nightclub-singing alter ego has been around for about three years by the time Ilana meets her in season two’s “Hashtag FOMO.” Luckily, the speakeasy doesn’t have cell service, so Val’s cover is safe for now. Though this doesn’t stop people from recognizing her out in the wild. Four episodes before we even see Val, an elderly lady on the subway tries to get a very confused Abbi’s attention by calling out her alter ego’s name. Clearly, Val’s got a lot of fans, even if Abbi still has no idea who she is.

13. PKW

Stands for phone, keys, wallet, the three things Lincoln tells Ilana she needs to remember before leaving the house in season one’s “The Lockout.” No surprise, she often forgets all three, but that won’t stop Lincoln from reminding her of his helpful acronym time and time again.

14. Business Guido

In season two’s “St. Mark’s,” Ilana get distracted by a “business guido” who’s on the phone with his estranged girlfriend Christina — she moved out seven weeks ago and now he’s falling apart and his “dick doesn’t work.” When Ilana happens to meet up with this guy again in “B&B-NYC,” he’s still trying to win Christina back. Who knows if he succeeds, but he does end up leading a temporarily homeless Abbi and Ilana to the 40/40 Club where they meet NBA star and Fetty Wap lyrics expert Blake Griffin.

15. Abbi’s Competitiveness

Whether you know about the infamous 2002 Camp Kweebec Red Rover incident or not, Abbi’s hypercompetitiveness is on full display throughout the series. We first get a taste of it in the “Co-Op” cold open where she balls out of control with a couple of kids who end up in tears. Probably shouldn’t have joked about having sex with their moms before deflating their basketball. But Abbi’s in rare form during the Soulstice Games, where she pummels Gemma (D’Arcy Carden) with a pugil stick. Not even sweet whispers of Bed Bath & Beyond could bring her down from this runner’s high.

16. Soulstice’s Pube Situation

From the first episode on, Abbi is constantly asked to bring her expertise, or her “Abbi magic” as Trey refers to it in “Fattest Asses,” to the “unprecedented” pube problem at Soulstice. In the season-three episode “Game Over,” she finally finds out why it’s such a regular occurrence when she, along with the rest of the trainers, are handed a razor before the Soulstice Games to help with the final weigh-in. “That’s where the fucking pubes come from,” an exasperated Abbi says. Yep, that’s where the pubes come from.

17. Bingo Bronson

The blue plushy pops up when Abbi gets her wisdom teeth pulled and later accompanies her on a Vicodin-fueled Whole Foods adventure. Bingo is also there for Ilana when she has her own pressing medical appointment in “Co-Op.” Luckily, he doesn’t encourage Ilana to buy any expensive manuka honey when they’re together.

18. Abbi’s Jam Band Past

Phish, Rad Dog, Dark Star, Disco Biscuits, String Cheese Incident — there isn’t a jam band that Abbi doesn’t like. But she’ll always be a Phishhead at heart. Trey Anastasio even shows up in her mushrooms trip in season four. In fact, as she reveals in “Co-Op,” there was that one summer she followed the band across the country selling mushroom chocolates. While she seems to have given that life up, all her gear from her jam band days is still stored in her childhood bedroom, including her dreadlocks. Locks of Love wouldn’t take them, but Ilana’s more than happy to wear ’em, even if they do smell like pepperoni.

19. Bed Bath & Beyond

BB&B is Abbi’s happy place. She goes there so much that she’s developed some very serious handshakes with the employees that are on full display in the second season premiere. They even have a cutting board with her name on it. Not literally, but maybe one day since she goes there so much. Just never ever throw out her Bed Bath & Beyond coupons because they never expire, a piece of advice she shares in season one’s “Pu$$y Weed.” Mark her words, Abbi Abrams will never pay full price for a SodaStream, and you shouldn’t either.

20. Abbi’s Jewishness

No matter how many times Abbi tells Ilana she’s Jewish, she often still has to remind her. It’s because she’s a “high-class Waspy Jew” or a “mainline Jew” from Philadelphia, which in Ilana’s opinion makes her different, a little more hoity-toity, than her, a New York Jew. I mean, she doesn’t even bring her own nail polish to the salon. While we have no reason not to trust Abbi, she has done some suspiciously Christianlike things. Like, in “Fattest Asses,” she tells Ilana she respects anyone swearing to God. Oh, and she did have that dream about a man-bun-wearing Jesus in “Jews on a Plane.” Hmm, maybe Ilana does have a right to question after all.

21. Ilana’s Little Ditty

There is a song that Ilana sings when she’s doing the most mundane of things, like biking, tweeting, and pooping. The lyrics change — in season four, the newly liquid Ilana sings about her white guilt — but the beat remains the same. It’s so catchy that Elizabeth Carlton, played by Vanessa Williams, even gives it a go in the bathroom at Deals, Deals, Deals.

22. Abbi’s Ass

Ilana’s obsessed with Abbi’s backside, to her it is the lit-a-rel “ass of an angel.” In season two’s “Knockoffs,” she calls it “perfection,” and in “Fattest Asses” compliments how it perfectly fills out that blue dress. In the episode “2016,” Ilana even assures Abbi, “I know you from your ass better than I know your face.” And what do you know, in the episode “Getting There,” she actually is able to recognize Abbi by that butt of hers.

23. Ilana’s “Latina” Earrings

Ilana’s accessory of choice is her gold hoops with the word Latina on them. She wears them while masturbating in “Kirk Steele” and while trying to steal back her old air conditioner in “In Heat.” They’re such a part of her identity that she gives them to Abbi to wear when she’s pretending to be her in “Co-Op.” The problem is, Ilana is definitely not Latina, so those earrings are just a form of cultural appropriation. As Jaimé (Arturo Castro) tells her in season three’s “Rat Pack,” wearing those hoops is like stealing the identity of someone who fought hard against colonial structures, which really makes her the colonist. She hasn’t worn those earrings since.

24. Abbi’s Feet

Abbi has a complicated relationship with her feet. When getting bowling shoes in “Philadelphia,” Abbi bashfully whispers that she wears a size 11. It’s why Ilana is quick to point out in “Co-Op” that Abbi couldn’t literally walk in her tiny shoes because she’s a real “squished 11.” But, Abbi takes very serious pride in her cavus foot — you know, really high arches. “Ballerinas have it,” Abbi tells Ilana in “B&B-NYC.” No biggie.

25. The Long-suffering Nicole

Being deskmates with Ilana isn’t easy — just ask Nicole (Nicole Drespel), who keeps a very detailed audio log of the terror Ilana inflicts on her. It starts in “Fattest Asses,” day 274, when a violently high Ilana wore a napkin as a shirt, and ends in “Game Over,” day 511, with a Sister Act 2–inspired dance routine. “It ends,” Nicole says with tears in her eyes. “I’m finally free.” But she’s actually been suffering longer than she even realizes. In “Sliding Doors,” we see that Ilana and Nicole’s history goes way back to 2011, when she was a young girl excited to be in the city until Ilana runs into her, spilling coffee all down her shirt. Maybe things would be a little better for Nicole if she could just find some nipple clamps that are tight enough for her.

26. Abbi’s Overly Complicated Handshakes

We first get a glimpse at Abbi’s signature handshakes in season two’s “In Heat,” when she heads to Bed Bath & Beyond and sees some old friends. At first, it’s just a sweet, perhaps excessive handshake with the guy who works in flatware. But, seconds later, it starts all over again with a different employee whose handshake is no less complicated than the one before, which inspires Ilana to ask the question, “How often do you come here?” Two seasons later, we get a sense of where this may have started, as Abbi and her dad (Tony Danza) perform their way too long handshake, which includes a little chanting and a whole lot of hand grabbing. Sadly, she has yet to come up with one for Ilana.

27. Ilana’s Strega Nona Recipe

In “Wisdom Teeth,” Ilana tries to help Abbi feel better by making her magical Strega Nona recipe, which is really just firecrackers, weed-infused s’mores that Ilana blends into a smoothie for Abbi to slurp down after dental surgery. But, it’s in season four’s “Mushrooms” that Ilana activates the “perfect Strega Nona timeline” with a yogurt and shrooms concoction that leads to a magical trip and a very dead cat.

28. Abbi’s Always Sick

In the time Abbi’s known Trey she’s given a lot of health-related excuses to get out of seeing him. In the premiere, she tells him she’s waiting for test results for “the big one” to go off galavanting with Ilana. In “Working Girls,” she pretends to feel real feverish to stay home and sign for Jeremy’s package. And to leave Trey’s party in “Hashtag FOMO,” she tells him she’s got a tapeworm in her butt. So can you really blame Trey for coming to the concerning conclusion in “Burning Bridges” that Abbi’s “always sick”? No, you really can’t.

29. Dale, Ilana’s Creepy Ex-Roommate

In season one’s “Apartment Hunters,” Ilana is on the search for her lost cable remote. She realizes that the only place it can be is with her old roommate/occasional sexual partner when the train wasn’t running to Manhattan, Dale, who, yes, does have the remote and isn’t willing to give it up. Instead, it’s part of his pervy boiler-room shrine to Ilana that explains why so many pairs of her underwear have gone missing over the years. Three seasons later, Ilana runs into Dale again at the airport where he lets her know he’d give it all up if she wanted to get back together with him. It’s an offer she definitely can refuse.

30. Abbi’s Awkward Phone Calls

When Abbi’s nerves get the best of her, she has a habit of taking fake and rather mortifying phone calls. Like those two laundry-related calls in “Wisdom Teeth” that stem from a Jeremy interaction. First, she talks about the weird stains in her underwear and later denies that she threw up on her clothes. Ilana later comes up with another awkward phone call when pretending to be Abbi in “Co-Op.” This one is about that labia reduction that she doesn’t need.

31. Ross From Friends

A teenage Abbi was so obsessed with Ross that she kept a framed photo of him right above her bed. Her dad even jokes in “Philadelphia” that the only news she cared about was whether Ross and Rachel were on a break or really broken up. Years later, she still feels a kinship with her Friends crush, telling Shania Twain that she’s a Ross, while Trey is so a Rachel. (Twain? Well, she’s a total Chandler, obvi.) Abbi even encourages Trey to do his “fine by me” Ross impression, which finally explains what she sees in him.

32. Abbi Pegged

In “Knockoffs,” Abbi’s decision to peg Jeremy not only impresses the heck out of Ilana (she’s a pega-sus now), but inspires Ilana’s parents to consider giving pegging a try. It was such a life-changing moment for Abbi that when she meets Hillary Clinton in “2016” she lets her know right away that she is a Democrat, an Aquarius, and, yes, she pegged. By season four, Ilana has her own shorthand for pegging; it’s when someone Abbi Jeremys. Just make sure to always hand-wash your Shinjo after use, a helpful reminder Abbi gives her mom two seasons later to save her from an embarrassing trip to the sex shop.

33. Blake Griffin’s Shoe

It’s the keepsake Ilana takes from her night with the NBA star in “B&B-NYC,” which eventually ends up becoming Lincoln’s murse. It’s his proof that he and Griffin are “Eskimo brothers.” In the next episode, Lincoln is still carrying the enormous Jordan Brand sneaker around his shoulder to hold all his valuables.

34. Jawbreakers

These guys will break your teeth — just ask Ilana, who ends up chipping hers when she tries to get to the center of one in “Pu$$y Weed.” Lincoln, D.D.S., ends up helping her out, only to have to fix a kid’s jaw in the very next episode for doing the same thing. “Why would you do even do that?” he says of someone biting right into those giant hard candies. Clearly, Ilana’s front-tooth fiasco didn’t keep her off jawbreakers forever. In “Friendiversary,” Ilana attaches one to Abbi’s first scavenger-hunt clue. Bad for your teeth, but good for something.

35. Tonya Harding

Abbi’s not proud to admit it in “Game Over,” but because of her intense competitive nature, her nickname in high school was Tonya Harding. So maybe it’s only fitting that her bestie Ilana’s nickname at Sushi Mambeaux ends up being “other Tonya.”

36. Dr. Wiz’s How-tos

When Lincoln needs help learning to meditate properly (“Wisdom Teeth”) or tying a tie (“The Matrix”), he looks to Dr. Wiz for help. Is Dr. Wiz a doctor? Probably not, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a master of nonmedical stuff, right?

37. Stealing the Kiehl’s

After being maced by her neighbors in “The Lockout,” Ilana decides they should shower at Soulstice for Abbi’s art-gallery showing at a sandwich shop. It’s then that she realizes that the gym has an endless supply of Kiehl’s lotion that she attempts to steal in a bunch of clear-plastic laundry bags. Definitely not the best vessel for loose goo. When Abbi finally leaves Soulstice for good in “Twaining Day” she runs off with boxes and boxes of Kiehl’s that make good on Ilana’s original heist attempt. Too bad they don’t have any other female friends to share it with.

38. Ilana’s Personal Email

It’s now ilanawexler@mindmyvagina.com and it’s why, as she learns in “Destination Wedding,” she never gets any of Morgan’s emails. Her bad, she thought it was still Ilana’s old address, ilanawexler@myvagina.com. Her boss Todd (Chris Gethard) also has a problem with her email, telling her in “Fattest Asses” that it isn’t really appropriate to “remind every client immediately of a vagina.” But, as she points out, the email reminds them she has something else, too: “And a mind, dude.” Well, she isn’t wrong, but Todd’s still not gonna use that email. Though he certainly regrets that decision in “Game Over,” when Ilana shows up in a dog hoodie to meet the Deals, Deals, Deals investor.

39. The Missing Soulstice Trainers

Ever notice that a lot of Soulstice trainers go missing? In “Fattest Asses,” it’s Zander who’s been missing for the last 48 hours, and unfortunately Bryce, his sub, is also MIA. Everyone seems pretty chill about it, though. When Gemma later tells Trey the two are dead, he’s more concerned about finding a replacement. In “Kirk Steele,” it’s Regina’s sudden disappearance — she’s also been missing, you guessed it, for 48 hours — that gives Abbi a chance to be a trainer for a day. All of these instructors are gone, and unfortunately they’ve definitely been forgotten.

40. Ilana, Head of Corporate Morale

To help boost spirits, Ilana brings a red tube man to the office in the first season, and when she finally leaves Deals, Deals, Deals two seasons later, she leaves this air dancer as her parting gift, to Nicole’s definite chagrin. But Ilana might have been onto something, since Hillary Clinton also brought one of these inflatables into her Brooklyn headquarters to help with morale. It’s also HRC who helps Ilana realize that this tube man is actually a woman. Of course she is.

Broad City’s 40 Best Running Gags