#JFL42 Interviews With... The Lucas Brothers
Photo Credits: David Bertozzi
Dressed in matching jackets and “f*ck Nixon” buttons and coming straight out of their stand-up special On Drugs (2017), The Lucas Brothers sat down with the newspaper to talk about comedy, philosophy and their creative process.
the newspaper: At what point did you realize that you wanted to do comedy and wanted to do it together?
Kenny: I would say the point that we realized that we wanted to do comedy was 2009. We were both in our 3rd year of law school and we weren’t really feeling the legal education and we didn’t want to pursue that as a profession and that [was] when I decided I wanted to do it with him.
Keith: I was becoming a little more disillusioned and I think he picked up on it and he was going through his own ordeal and he called me up and asked me if I wanted to do it and I was already convinced that I should do it, so I just needed a push and his push helped.
tn: Would you ever consider doing comedy by yourself?
KT: I don’t have any intention to do that. I feel that this was something we started together for a reason and we wanna see how far we can go with it.
KN: I don’t think I want to do it by myself. I think we have such a unique and dynamic act and so much of it depend on our timing together and our communication and our skills, and I think I’ve grown not only as a comedian but as a person working with him everyday. And I just want to see how far we can take it.
KT: I just truthfully believe that I’m a better comic with Kenny, so it would be a disservice to myself if I got onstage—and to the audience—‘cause they don’t want to see me mumble to myself.
KN: We might try it one time, just as a joke.
tn: In your set, you talk a lot about race relations and politics. Why have you chosen to tackle those topics through comedy?
KT: We are very fascinated by politics and philosophy and we feel like in order to do the best version of our comedy, we have to be truthful to the things that we—
KN: —observe and things that we consume.
KT: That’s one reason, but a lot of these things are what people are talking about and it’s easier to connect to people comedically than sometimes politically ‘cause people aren’t listening, but at least with joke telling, their ears are open and they’re willing to hear new ideas.
KN: I truly believe that comedy is a didactic process. I think that especially in old comedy, in the Greeks, comedy wasn’t just to make people laugh, but also to make people think and to meditate on important issues. I think that with the rise of nationalism and autocratic governments there also needs to be a counterbalance in our satire and a counterbalance in what kind of comedy we present. I feel that deeply. Some people disagree. But it depends on the artist. I’m not saying every comic should talk about politics.
KT: It’s important and something that you engage in; I feel like it’s natural that it’s gonna infiltrate your art. I feel like it’s something we talk about in private, so we wanted to mirror our private conversation in the public form.
tn: I see a lot of influences from philosophy in your comedy. What did you get out of your philosophy degree?
KT: Philosophy was paramount.
KN: Everything and nothing.
KT: It’s been the most important thing for us. It really influenced how we think. It really affected how we think about things, which has played a huge role in how we shape our jokes, but it also taught us a way to inquire into how you develop your beliefs and things of that nature and it’s allowed us to have more substantive conversations. When we’re talking about philosophy, we’re pushing each other to think a certain way and to challenge your own beliefs.
KN: It’s completely informed our comedic process in the sense that we employ the dialectic where we consider a hypothesis and we consider the opposite of the hypothesis. We fuse it together to try to get some synthesis, and we do that in everything. Every topic that we bring up, we’ll have a conversation about the truth of it.
KT: And with philosophy you’re taught to question everything. No belief is sacrasanctional.
KN: You question everything. And that’s the same with comedy. You’re questioning everything, so there’s that parallel and we’ve been able to at least see some of the similarities between comedy and philosophy and that’s something that we’re deeply interested in, trying to find those connections between philosophy and comedy and to see how they work off one another.
KT: And they started at the same time. Philosophy and comedy were birthed in Greece and if they have the same source then obviously there’s something fundamental and similar between the two art forms.
tn: Do you ever argue over which one of you is Plato and which is Socrates?
KT: Well, we both hate Plato.
KN: We both hate Plato.
KT: I’m back and forth with Plato. He had some great ideas, but he also had some very repressive ideas. And Socrates is a little bit more mythical. And cooler, I think.
KN: Our debate is whether we’re more in-line with empiricists or rationalists. I tend to believe that I’m more of a rationalist and I tend to believe he’s more of an empiricist.
KT: But it’s not that final.
KN: The line is blurred.
KT: You can synthesize the two of them and be more.. Kantian, but even then, I don’t really know what I am. I’m constantly questioning my beliefs and trying to figure out what I believe and why I believe it, and I always get back to I truly, truly don’t know why I believe the things I believe and how I believe the things I believe and what justifies it.
tn: Why did you both choose law school?
KT: We were studying philosophy and we thought that perhaps we would get our PhD in philosophy. But then we realized that that might be a little too impractical. We wanted to do something that touched on a lot of the things we learned in philosophy but also had a practical element to it and we thought law was that.
KN: A lot of people kept saying the socratic dialogue, the socratic methods, and I thought—wow—we get to learn more intently about the Socratic method. On some level, it employed certain aspects of the Socratic dialogue.
KT: But the practice of law was purely adversarial, primarily about winning or losing, about making money. You start to feel this is purely about business. And we didn’t go into the academic realm of law—it was like we’d get a job.
KN: It was so far removed from philosophy. You would have people making these ludicrous arguments, not rooted in truth, and they would make the arguments just to win. It didn’t matter about the evidence. It didn’t matter about the truth—
KT: —the pursuit of knowledge. It’s a profession and I think that we were very naive and we weren’t quite sure what we were getting ourselves into, but when you’re young and you’re not sure what to do, you try what you think is best for you at the time.
KN: I think we learned a lot about ourselves and we learned what we didn’t want to do and it pushed us to do comedy.
KT: I think you’ve got to have a passion for it. If it’s something that you seriously want to do, if you’ve already loved the law and you’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, by all means.
KN: And there are positive aspects to the law, and there are things that I’ve learned in law school that I will have with me for the rest of my life. There were some positive aspects, but it just wasn’t fulfilling to me.
tn: As twins, I’ve noticed that you’ve done most things in life together (college, high school). Law school was one of the first times you were separated. I have a theory that this is maybe the reason law school didn’t work out.
KN: Law school was the first experience where we were by ourselves completely.
KT: I learned a lot about myself as an individual. And I learned that I needed him. I need him in my life. And it just pushed us to do something where we could work together. It could have been anything really, but comedy certainly was the right call.
KN: I think you’re theory is right. I was sadder in law school because he was not there. That certainly informed why I may have saw it all … it could have coloured the experience.
tn: The Lucas Brothers Moving Company was such an unusual show, especially for a major network. What was your experience like jumping into that?
KT: It happened pretty quickly. We’d done a late night spot and I think maybe a couple months later we were in it. It was weird because we had our theories about how TV worked, and even that experience wasn’t how TV normally works, ‘cause we were working under, more or less, an incubator of comedy, so they were able to … there was this one guy who had a studio and they let him do his own thing, and that’s really unconventional in networks where you get one guy who is creating his own content.
KN: It certainly taught us a lot about how the industry works and …
KT: I grew up. I learned a lot about how the process works in television shows, a better understanding of the nuances, how politics works, the writer’s room, getting cancelled, you know just …
KN: It was a crazy experience ‘cause it was pretty much our first television experience and to do something like that, especially in animation where we had no experience, it was remarkable, but it was also very frustrating at times.
KT: ‘Cause with TV you’re dealing with so many moving parts. You have to deal with executives, and I’d never dealt with executives on that level, so certainly a growing up process.
tn: So what’s next?
KN: We’re currently in the process of writing a movie. We’re writing the early stages, getting the script ready, talking with some production companies, working with some pretty well known directors, so that’s the big thing for us.
KT: And we’re still developing material for our next special, and just taking it easy, trying to enjoy every moment in this process, in this journey. I think a couple years ago I was so focused on results, results, results, I didn’t take a step back and appreciate everything we’ve been able to accomplish. And not even just accomplish, everything that we’ve been able to experience. So now I’m trying to truly enjoy every moment. This moment right here: enjoy it, and embrace it, and take it for what it is. It’s a truly special time to do what we’re all doing.comments powered by Disqus