Weekly Director Profile: Lucia Aniello
Lucia Aniello is an American director, writer and producer who grew up in Hadley, Massachusetts before moving to New York City, where she graduated from Columbia University. She is an alumna of the Upright Citizens Brigade, the legendary improvisational and sketch comedy group founded in 1990 that birthed a truly terrifying amount of comedic talent from Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation) to Adam McKay (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy) to Bobby Moynihan (Saturday Night Live) with waaaaaaaay to many others to list. It is also where Aniello she met her constant collaborator Illana Glazer and her work and romantic partner Paul W. Downs.
Aniello and Downs have been writing, directing and acting in digital shorts since 2007 on the website and comedy production company Paulilu Productions. One of their most well known projects is the sketch series Paulilu Mixtape (2012), where Aniello directed all seven episodes.
Aniello leveled up in the primordial pop culture consciousness with her half-hour Comedy Central series Broad City (2014-), starring Ilana Glazer (The Night Before) and Abbi Jacobson (Person to Person). Adapted from their web series of the same name (2009-2011) Glazer and Jacobson play two Danza-ized twenty-something women living lives of hilarious irresponsibility in New York City. The show was rapturously received by both critics and fans, and is constantly labeled one of the best shows on television. The series is groundbreaking for how it breaks down gender roles and for its sex positivity.
In 2015, she squeezed in some time to direct a couple of episodes of the verrrrrry short lived Yahoo! comedy Other Space, starring Karan Soni (Blunt Talk), Bess Rous (Murder in the First) and Eugene Cordero (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend). The series followed a young and incredibly inexperienced space crew as they venture into the great unknown and face everything from robot rebellions to mysterious clouds. RIP Other Space, we barely knew yee.
Time Travelling Bong
Aniello once again teamed up with Glazer and Downs to make the 2016 miniseries Time Travelling Bong for Comedy Central. The stoner comedy centers on two cousins, Sharee (Glazer) and Jeff (Downs), who discover a bong that can be used to travel through time when smoked. After riding high as kites throughout different time periods, the bong is damaged and they must find a way to return to the present. The miniseries is a hilarious and truly unique take on the stoner comedy, while also providing pointed commentary about the God awful pile of crap minorities (ie. anyone and everyone not white, male and straight) have faced throughout American history.
Rough Night (2017) is Aniello’s feature film debut, which she co-wrote with Downs, chronicling a bachelorette party gone horribly wrong in Miami when a group of girlfriends hire a male stripper, who ends up dead. Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation), Zoe Kravitz (Big Little Lies), Kate McKinnon (Ghostbusters), Jillian Bell (22 Jump Street) and Ilana Glazer star as the unlucky party of five, with Demi Moore (Ghost), Ty Burrell (Modern Family) and Colton Haynes (Arrow) also along for the ride.
The reviews so far have been mixed, but I will take a blatant distaff Hangover rip-off stocked to the gills with Grade-A female comedic talent over Baywatch any and every time. Women can make average comedies that constantly rerun on cable too! Rough Night hits theaters this weekend.
Even if Aniello hits a bit of a slump with Rough Night, she is on track as one of the funniest and razor sharp contemporary comedy producer/creators. I can’t wait to see what she does next.