The Lucas Brothers Are the Next Big Thing in Identical Twin Stoner Comedy
The identical twin comedians stole the show this summer in "22 Jump Street," and now they're hoping to take over the small screen with their FXX animated series, "The Lucas Bros. Moving Co."
The pot-smoking slacker duo is one of the most enduring tropes in mainstream American comedy. From Cheech and Chong to Harold and Kumar, the landscape of humor is littered with variations on the theme of weed use leading to outlandish adventures. The Lucas Bros, identical twins who left grad school to be comedians, are proudly carrying that tradition into the second decade of the 20th century with the second season of their FXX animated series The Lucas Bros. Moving Co., which premieres tonight at midnight. On the show, the brothers play slightly exaggerated versions of themselves who live in Bushwick and own a moving company that doesn't really do much actual moving. Their version of Brooklyn includes maniacal pro wrestlers, aliens, celebrity guests like Danny Brown, and plenty of weed.
In addition to the cartoon, they appear on TruTV's sketch show Friends of the People and had a scene-stealing role in 22 Jump Street. We spoke over the phone this week about comedy, gentrification, and our mutual love of WWE wrestler Bret "the Hitman" Hart.
VICE: Can we talk about pro wrestling just for my own sake because I can tell you guys are fans and I'm a huge fan of wrestling myself—more specifically Bret Hart. Like what was cool about him? I can't even tell you now what was cool about him for me.
Kenny Lucas: I think we were attracted to the his height. He was a small guy. We're small guys. He also wore pink.
Keith Lucas: He was really the only wrestler who wore pink, which was oddly appealing at the time. We also had a friend on a block who was a huge Shawn Michaels fan and we didn't like him. So we thought, If he likes Shawn Michaels, then we have to like Bret Hart. So, it was the divide of our block. Either Bret Hart fans or Shawn Michaels fans.
I definitely think there is a very clear dividing line between the two. If you like Shawn Michaels it says something about who you are as a human being.
Kenny: That's absolutely true. You're a little bit more arrogant.
You're kind of a dick.
Kenny: Yeah, we're never into that kind of arrogance. Bret Hart was the kind of epitome of not being arrogant, at least in the ring, and that's what attracted us to him.
For someone who wore pink, he was very humble. I feel like there's a lot of people who are comedy people—either working in comedy or are comedy nerds—who have an affinity for wrestling. Do you think there's a reason why, and what is it about wrestling that was attractive to you growing up?
Keith: There's something connected between comedy and wrestling. I think it's because a lot of us were just nerds growing up. We gravitated towards either wrestling or comic books or movies. A lot of nerds become comedians. Our best friend at the time was a huge wrestling fan.
Kenny: He showed us the way. He was our Obi-Wan.
Keith: He was an older guy and already was into wrestling. He introduced us to it and we fell in love with it. Then we never looked back.
Kenny: We really got into it. A lot of guys moved away from it as they got older, but we were still into it. Throughout high school and college, we were loving it. We loved the sport so much that we didn't want to leave. A lot of our friends stepped off of it as they got older to get the girls, but we didn't.
Are you still watching now? If not was there a point where you jumped out?
Keith: We jumped out for a little bit in college and pretty much all through law school, but we would read articles and stuff like that. I wouldn't watch it or anything. I would follow it on the internet.
It's funny that you guys stopped watching in college because that was exactly when I stopped watching wrestling and I stopped liking Star Trek. In college, I wanted to get laid, but I couldn't get laid if I had a Mr. Spock poster or I was wearing Bret Hart sunglasses.
Keith: That was the same reasons we had. We got so into girls and into academics, so we thought maybe we have to give up that childhood stuff, but then you got to comedy and it's like, Oh, I'm a kid again.
And you get to be paid for liking this stuff. Jake "the Snake" Roberts plays himself on The Lucas Bros. Moving Company. Have you interacted with him much or does he just come into the booth and record?
Kenny: We haven't really had a chance to interact with him because he records out of Atlanta, so he doesn't come to LA or New York. Whenever we've had a chance to talk, he tells these really weird long stories, and they're fantastic. I'm like, Wow, this is what I expected from Jake the Snake.
In his first episode you say, "I thought you were dead" and I thought the same thing. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that he's still going strong.
Kenny: Yeah, he's doing much better now than he was a decade ago.
That's the thing that's so troubling to me about wrestling. They don't take care of the people.
Kenny: Yeah, it's terrible. They should start up a union to help those guys get health care, because it's a problem.
Law school is something that you guys brought up and something you've talked about in other interviews. What got you into quitting that? They are obviously different, but I'm sure there are commonalities between comedy and the law. Why did you decide to get out of it and do you think there's anything in that education that has informed your work or helped you?
Kenny: I realized I didn't want to be a lawyer. I didn't want to pursue it and I think Keith and I had [the same] sentiment. I just wanted to find something where I could work with my brother and have fun doing it; have fun creating. So I was at NYU, doing the New York thing, and I checked out some comedy teams. I went to the Cellar, the Improv, and I thought we could do comedy. I thought we could be successful. You're using a similar part of you're brain [that you use for law school]. I had a conversation with myself. Do I want to be a lawyer? Is that something I'm going to pursue for the next 20 years and if not shouldn't I pick something I'm going to enjoy? So I transitioned into comedy like that.
Keith: Yeah, he pretty much told me what he just said. He convinced me to drop out and come up there and start working. I asked the same questions: Do I want to be a lawyer for the next 30 years? Is it something I'm passionate about? When I answered no to both of them I knew right then and there it was time for me to move on. But the education has helped us in terms of navigating through the world of Hollywood; dealing with contracts and negotiations. So, I do believe that we speak the language a little bit better then our peers. We've been able to comprehend a lot of the different aspects of the legal realm.
Kenny: You have a better understanding of the stuff you have to do in the business process. It's certainly been helpful.
Keith: It's helpful to think like a lawyer.
Was it always inteded to be a two-person act or did you go back and forth on how you wanted to do this?
Kenny: I wanted it to be a two-headed approach. I wanted it to be a collective effort.
Keith: I was definitely going through a depression and Kenny knew we had to work together. If we're not together we tend to be more depressed.
Kenny: We have a great working relationship. I mean we've been working together for so long with basketball and other sports. We're just used to working together.
Were there a challenge in figuring out a way to serve each of you creatively? There's not a ton of duos in comedy anymore. There's the Sklar Brothers, but not much else. Historically there's been a lot of two person groups: Nichols and May, Burns and Allen, and others, but it's a lot more rare now. What is the process that goes into writing and figuring out the beats of jokes or who says what and that kind of thing?
Kenny: Obviously, we're incredibly collaborative. For example, for the stand-up comedy, Keith will have an idea, then I'll punch it up, and then he will. Then we go on stage, and we'll try a couple of punchlines and use whichever one is effective.
Keith: We try to keep it really open. It's more improv now. We'll improv it, and then we'll try to transcribe it and find what parts of the idea need a little work.
I know a lot of comedians who say it takes years or decades to really hone an act, to figure out why you're saying what you're saying and who you are on stage. How long do you think it took you guys to really have that "a-ha moment"?
Kenny: So much of the stuff we do now is a combination of our backgrounds and has shaped what we do. The moment we go on stage, that's who we will be. It feels laid back. It's free and open and we don't take shit seriously, because life is way too short.
Keith: Taking it easy is something we sort of stumbled upon by studying philosophy. Our delivery is something we have trouble figuring out, and I think we're still trying to figure out to this day.
How much do you think New York plays a role in what you guys come up with and your creative process? It seems like it's an important part of the animated show and your stand-up. Your personas are very laconic and lackadaisical, but New York has a sort of oppressive energy all the time, where everyone is manic in some way. Do think that came out of New York or was that just who you are?
Keith: I would say New York has played an instrumental role in terms of why we create and the approach of how we create.
Kenny: It's a combination of what we listen to and what we see. I feel like Manhattan is less laid back. In Brooklyn, it's a creative force which revolves around different things. A lot of people are broke and are not worried about money. It's a different universe over there. We've been able to manifest ourselves from that background, because it doesn't really define how we approach our comedy, but it does play a role.
The gentrification that's going on in Brooklyn and other cities in America—it isn't really foregrounded in the show, but it does seem to have an element of that in there. I guess it's just because you're in New York with the show, but I was particularly struck by the image of the Barclays Center being destroyed in the first Jake the Snake episode. How do you guys feel about the cultural situation in Greenpoint and Bushwick? There was a good SNL sketch about that on the Kevin Hart episode.
Kenny: Since I'm not from New York—I'm from North Carolina and Jersey—I'm not as invested in the gentrification process, but you go back and forth. There are certain aspects of the culture that you would hope stay around, but you know, it's inevitable that it will be eradicated. That's kind of sad, but at the same time so much new culture is being brought in.
Keith: We were living in Bushwick for about a year, and you got that mixture. It was a beautiful thing.
Kenny: You hope it will stay like that. You want some of the locals to stay there, and I love new people coming in and bringing in a new type of energy. Sometimes when you're a local, you want to keep things the same. When you bring in that new kind of energy, it certainly vitalizes the area. I think Bushwick is the perfect epicenter for that, and I really appreciate it. But it obviously comes with its problems.
Keith: It's never going to be the same culture. It isn't what it once was.
When I go to Williamsburg, it feels very homogenized, but then I go to Clinton Hill and it still feels like an ethnic neighborhood with a lot of character.
Kenny: You never want to lose that character and look at a neighborhood like some object. There are people who live there who are being kicked out of their homes. That's always going to be tragic. There's no way around it, but it seems it can be avoided.
You guys are doing the animated series, you're developing a live-action sitcom, you're doing a sketch show, you're in movies. It's a lot of stuff to do at once. Is there anything you wouldn't do? Will we ever get a Lucas Bros. R&B album?
Kenny: [Laughs] We'll never do music. I think the animation is what we're really passionate about. I mean that's the stuff we've grown up on. That's the stuff we always loved as kids and to be able to produce it now is awesome.
Keith: I think the animation is the closest way of tapping into what we do, and I still think we're more creative within the animation world. We wanted to test out and try different things and see what we like and didn't like, but animation was the thing I would love to be remembered for.
What is it like collaborating with Ben Jones, the director of the show? Do you guys bounce things of him? Does he come to you or is it more like this is the show and this is what we're doing?
Kenny: Ben Jones is a genius. It's like, sometimes I'm intimated.
Keith: It's very collaborative. We communicate consistently and work to see if we are all on the same page. I like the creative freedom. Like Kenny said he's a creative genius. He's done some amazing things on the show. He's helped us with our ideas.
Is there anything coming up with the new season that you're especially excited to share with the audience?
Kenny: There's an episode dedicated to Jay-Z and that will be fun for the audience.
Keith: We just previewed the Will Smith episode. An episode devoted to Will Smith and one about Jaleel White. That's one I was really proud of.
Kenny: We do an Inception-style episode...
Keith: Where we're trying to find the memory of Urkel. We loved Family Matters when we were growing up, so why not make something like that?
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