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‘Broad City’s’ second season off to a wickedly funny start

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(Comedy Central

(Comedy Central

Comedies are fickle things for repeat viewings. You can watch some immortal ones like “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” every week and be in stitches every time.

However, most of them lose their luster the second time around. I can now say with a fair degree of certainty that Comedy Central’s “Broad City” is on its way to joining the small group of comedies that won’t lose its punch no matter how many times you watch it. I’ve seen its 12 episodes three times through, and if anything, I’ve laughed harder and harder.

“Broad City’s” second season just debuted with a wickedly funny odyssey through New York in which Abbi Abrams (Abbi Jacobson) and Ilana Wexler (Ilana Glazer) hunt down an air conditioner. The premiere, cleverly titled “In Heat,” focuses on a brutal heat wave that strikes New York just as Abbi spends a night with her new boyfriend, Male Stacy (Seth Rogen). While cooking on an indoor grill, they soon realize the ill timing of their dinner. The scenes in which they sweat uncontrollably in compromising situations will have you cringing and hollering with laughter.

The real laughs come when Ilana and Abbi hunt down a new air conditioning unit to survive the heat wave. When they infiltrate a college dorm room to take back their old unit, the episode veers toward the absurd, but Jacobson and Glazer’s comedy is the rare gem that can delve into absurdity without sacrificing plenty of laughs.

Many programs that intentionally use absurdity, like “Broad City’s” Wednesday night counterpart, “Workaholics,” lose some humor by trying too hard to shock the audience. “Broad City” has found a wonderful line that presents its shock value in a quirky rather than repulsive manner. Furthermore, repeat viewings make their absurdity all the more charming.

No better example of this exists than the first season episode, “Destination: Wedding,” in which the gang races across the city to catch a train for their friend’s wedding. Sprinting through a normal New York day in tuxes and dresses, they encounter impossible obstacles, like a detour to the dreaded Penn Station. Rather than go, Abbi’s date leaves her. “It’s kind of a deal breaker for me,” he tells her, before running away in a hilariously dramatic fashion. An asset they honed in season one, Jacobson and Glazer improve on their hyperbolic comedy this year.

Episode two, “Mochalatta Chills,” diverged from the show’s more common format. It follows the women in parallel storylines rather than together. Finally told to actually do work by her timid boss, Ilana decides to hire unpaid interns to do the work for her. Ironically, she turns into a mini corporate magnate. Meanwhile, Abbi finally gets a promotion to trainer at Soulstice, the gym she works at, but her first subject is her roommate’s boyfriend from hell, Bevers (John Gemberling).

“Mochalatta Chills” is a promising entry for the show. It not only skewers several facets of American culture, like corporate greed and careerism, but the episode also marks a more nuanced storytelling ability from the comedic duo. Although the first season was one long laughing tour, it tended toward a sketch format that had a loose narrative, whereas this season appears to have a more cohesive story graced with the quick wit of a sketch.

It’s the program’s incredible wit that rewards numerous viewings. The scripts are loaded with double-entendres and tongue-in-cheek comments that often slip past you the first time. And keep an eye out for Jacobson’s expressions; they’re just as hilarious as her lines.

“Broad City’s” strongest asset is its two leads. Jacobson and Glazer, who developed a strong voice on their web series (2009-2011), feel like a part of the society that they parody and celebrate. Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s satire of life in Portland on “Portlandia” works so well because both stars know its culture inside and out; they can skewer it while embracing it. Similarly, Jacobson and Glazer’s comedy about New York juggles satire and admiration.

This success shows no signs of losing steam. On the contrary, I believe season two will surpass season one in every manner, between improved storytelling and creatively humorous situations. Even without tapping a reservoir of supporting characters, “Broad City” has made a powerful case for itself as one of television’s finest new comedies.

Going forward, I’d love to see Lincoln (Hannibal Buress) get a larger role. A charming dentist who’s in a recurring relationship with Ilana, Lincoln always lights up his scenes. Buress delivers his lines with a sweet mix of playfulness and irony.

A timely and razor-sharp satire, “Broad City” has quickly become one of television’s strongest comedies. With the duo of Jacobson and Glazer at the helm, it’s sure to be around for a while. For seasons to come, “Broad City” promises a fresh parody of 21st Century life.

Alexander Frail can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @AlexanderFrail.

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