‘Babes’ Stars Tell Us About Creating A Buddy Birth Comedy Worth Laughing About

There are certain life lessons no one bothers to tell you. That credit scores are a scam. That you’re supposed to replace your pillows (and your car’s brake pads). That friendships, no matter how meaningful and valued, can fray under the pressures of adulthood. That last sobering truth is what drives most of the drama (and laughs) in Babes, a buddy-birth comedy that sees Broad City alum Ilana Glazer and comedian Michelle Buteau navigate the joys and nauseating amount of bodily fluids that come with motherhood.

Glazer and her fellow Broad City vet Josh Rabinowitz teamed up to pen the script for the indie flick which premiered earlier this year at SXSW and was directed by Better Things creator/star Pamela Adlon. The pair were musing about the pitfalls of parenting (long before either would actually welcome their own children) and wondering why a Judd Apatow movie was the only notable entry in the pregnancy comedy canon.

“It’s truly insulting,” Glazer tells UPROXX of the lack of female fronted friendship comedies that touch on that all-too-relatable era of adulthood. “Knocked Up was kind of where we were like, ‘Really? There’s this sort of gaping hole here. That’s the only one that fills it, but it’s about Seth Rogen?’”

With Glazer pregnant and Rabinowitz also readying to welcome a baby with his wife, the duo started taking notes on all of the wild, unexpected, often nightmarish side effects of deciding to have children. From hair loss to unexplained horniness, exhaustion and poop, Glazer tapped into the no-holds-barred joke-per-minute writing style that made her Comedy Central show so popular to tackle the next phase of her life. The result? A buddy comedy brave enough to mine the body horror of pregnancy for laughs (unlike Glazer’s False Positive, which played more into scares), and smart enough to keep it from becoming the punchline.

While Babes has been described in early reviews as the Bridesmaids of babymaking,” it shares more in common with Apatow’s Superbad than anything else, centering on two friends (Eden, Glazer’s free-spirited yoga teacher, and Dawn, Buteau’s overworked mother of two) struggling to maintain their friendship in the midst of some massive life changes. But both films serve as its storytelling compass.

“I think the pregnancy and being parents of young children was where the comedy was coming from. But for the story, it was really Dawn and Eden’s change that was our North Star tonally,” Glazer explains.

When audiences first meet the pair, they’re clinging to a childhood tradition, taking a trip to the theater on Thanksgiving Day despite the fact that Dawn could pop out baby number two at any moment. That moment comes before opening commercials, but both women are so nonplussed, they decide to enjoy a luxurious lunch before Dawn heads to the hospital. The result is likely the funniest sequence in the film, a feat of physical comedy only Buteau could believably pull off. She’s never almost given birth in a lobby before, but Babes might just be the most organic role she’s ever been offered. She’s known Glazer for decades and cut her teeth on the comedy scene as part of the same class as the film’s supporting cast – everyone from Hasan Minhaj to the Lucas Brothers play a part here. More importantly, she was experiencing the some of the same child rearing mishaps as her on-screen counterpart.

“The friend that’s got the two kids and is overwhelmed and can barely have time to wipe her shit properly?” Buteau jokes. “Yeah, it felt really natural from jump.”

While Dawn is married and living comfortably on the Upper West Side, Eden is stuck schlepping from Astoria to keep their friendship alive, choosing an alternative life path that slowly causes a rift, widened not by time, space, or continents but something even more insurmountable – the N Train. A chance meeting and a surprise pregnancy spark another life lesson – you can in fact get pregnant on your period – and even more friction between the two women. Dawn, clearly suffering with post-partum depression, doesn’t have the energy to play surrogate doula to her naïve and somewhat self-centered bestie while Eden, terrified to start on this new journey alone, is fed up with scheduling her life around her friend’s breakdowns.

Glazer thought the choice to have Eden keep the baby felt subversively pro-choice, and also served to up the stakes in terms of the duo’s floundering friendship.

“I think Michelle and I, especially being comedians, we’ve been reflecting on our identities and fighting for ourselves, to exist in spaces for over two decades,” Glazer says of injecting herself in Eden’s decision regarding motherhood. “I think even if we’re objects of desire, we are taking pleasure. You couldn’t get an oppressed perspective from us. Anything can be construed any which way, but our body, our choice means no matter what the fuck that choice is.”

The irony that the film premiered at SXSW in Texas, a state notorious for hacking away at women’s right to bodily autonomy wasn’t lost on them either.

“It’s so crazy,” Glazer says. “People in our government are working against us, comedians are speaking for us. Some comedians [use] this stage for such violent words. Michelle and I really value comedy as a spiritual practice that can connect people and reach different kinds of people.”

Both stars have changed their approach to comedy over the years. Glazer’s made a return to stand-up with last year’s Ilana Glazer Live! Tour while Buteau is beginning work on the second season of her Netflix hit, Survival of the Thickest, a rowdy romp filled with body positivity and pubes gags. Neither are suffering from the kind of Peter Pan Syndrome that seems to be afflicting so many of their older, male cohorts.

“I don’t think it’s limited to comedy,” Buteau says of the shift in perspective of certain comedians and comedy circles. “I think the fear of growth is also the fear of failure. ‘Who am I and what does it mean?’ And instead of shying away from it, I wish more people would do a deep dive because you can evolve, you can grow. It doesn’t have to be what made you popular or feel good 10 years ago and that’s okay. It can be different.”

“People just get really stuck, and they are triggered by words instead of meaning,” she continues. “[They’re] like, ‘You can’t say anything anymore!’ But yeah man, that’s good. Maybe it was really hurtful and fucking violent, and now we can grow and say something else. We make up words all the time. Our whole language is made up.”

With Babes, Buteau and Glazer brought the best of their stand-up habits to filming, improvising to a dizzying degree and shocking each other with how gross they’re comedy could be.

“It’s a little psycho,” Glazer says of her co-star’s natural ability to conjure whole riffs out of thin air, something Buteau responds to with a good natured, “Stop it, bitch.”

Both comedians hope Babes fills a bit of a void in the buddy comedy space, offering up something fresh that speaks to audiences navigating their own life changes and worried some friendships might not be meant to last. Their only warning? Anything a penis can do (comedically) a vulva can do better.

“It’s definitely a hard comedy,” Glazer explains. “But it’s one with a lot of heart that everyone can laugh at. Pause from whatever the fuck is going out on there and really take pleasure in what’s going in this film.”