• Lucas Brothers talk Friends of the People, marijuana, importance of Urkel (Laughspin interview)

    Lucas BrothersIf the Lucas Brothers look familiar, it’s probably because you saw their hilarious cameo in 22 Jump Street, or their animated series, Lucas Bros Moving Co. Season 2 starts in 2015 (!!). But the brothers have a lot more in store for the comedy world. Starting tonight, you can see Keith and Kenny on their sketch comedy show Friends of the People every Tuesday at 10:30 pm ET on TruTV. They’re also developing their own live action series with Fox.

    So what’s all the hype about? Let me put it to you this way, the Lucas Brothers are like if Hannibal Buress and Daria had a baby; two funny, chill babies. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Keith and Kenny between their many projects to talk about comedy, weed and the importance of Steve Urkel.

    Lucas Bros Moving Company is hilarious. What made you want to get into animation?
    KEITH: We had been doing stand-up really hard, so we didn’t really have a plan of action to get into animation. Nick Weidenfeld saw our set on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and he asked if we had any ideas. That week, we started coming up with a lot of ideas and sent them over to him. He loved them, and we started from there.

    Are there any cartoons that inspired the look or feel of Lucas Bros Moving Company?
    KENNY: It was definitely early 90’s Nickelodeon cartoons. Doug, Rocco’s Modern Life, and Ren and Stimpy. Also Clone High, Beavis and Butthead, The Simpsons, King of the Hill,and Life and Times of Tim. Daria was certainly an influence.

    Is there anything you want to animate that would be too insane for live action?
    KEITH: We actually have an episode of Lucas Bros Moving Company dedicated to Jay Z. That’s stuff that we can’t do in real life. We also have an episode where we go into Jaleel White’s consciousness. That was pretty cool.

    Who would you choose to be your cartoon girlfriend?
    KENNY: I have to go with Jessica Rabbit.
    KEITH: I’m going with Daria.

    I could see you with Daria.
    KEITH: She’s actually in one of our episodes. It’s the “Pizza Pizza” episode where we go back in time to 1995.

    Your show, Friends of the People premieres this week. Have you heard people compare it to any other shows?
    KEITH: Well, we did an Urkel sketch. Key and Peele did an Urkel sketch, so we’ve been getting that comparison.
    KENNY: A lot of people were saying In Living Color before because we have a predominantly black cast, but it’s totally different.

    It’s funny that your Family Matters sketch came out around the same time as Key and Peele’s. Why do you think people are so enamored by Family Matters and Urkel?
    KEITH: Urkel was a cultural phenomenon and a megastar. When I was growing up he was so popular and so pivotal that a lot of us were just influenced by him.
    KENNY: As you get older and read up on the history of Family Matters you realize, wow, they were going to get canceled and then they introduced new characters and it became a cultural thing. It was huge. I don’t know if something like that show could ever happen again. It was a time when the sitcom was evolving a little bit more and becoming more absurd. They were at the beginning of it. And now that other shows have come out and pushed the absurdity level, you can’t really do what they did anymore. It was so groundbreaking, especially with a black character. It was a black sitcom too, so for them to really be a science fiction show. It was science fiction, but it masqueraded as a family sitcom. It was great.

    If you could be on an episode of Family Matters, who would your characters be?
    KEITH: I think we’d be Urkel’s long lost cousins.
    KENNY: Yeah, we’ll be his cousins and then we’ll clone ourselves 1,000 times over and try to take over the city of Chicago. Then Urkel has to stop us.

    You do a sketch on Friends of the People called “Squabblin’ and Quarrelin” where you discuss everything from cookies to drone strikes. Do you fight like this in real life?
    KENNY: (laughs) Yeah, we fight. We fight a lot…not a lot but when we do, sometimes it gets pretty vicious. We don’t really hold back from each other.
    KEITH: We say whatever we have to say. Once you’ve spent like 30 years with a person, you know everything about them so, anything I say isn’t gonna hurt him. It’s all I’ve got, I don’t have any other ammunition.
    KENNY: That’s kind of like the basis of “Squabblin’ and Quarrelin.” Our arguments are meaningless.
    KEITH: Yeah, they have no meaning. We’ll always be brothers no matter how much we fight, so arguing is a waste of time.

    Have you ever gotten into a physical fight?
    KEITH: We’ve gotten into a few. I’d say we’ve been in four fights. We haven’t fought in awhile. It was sort when we were younger. We were a lot more emotional. We’ve been very subdued the last couple years because of marijuana.
    KENNY: I think we’re more reasonable. Fighting is primitive.

    Smoking weed helped your relationship?
    KEITH: Yeah. Weed was certainly the thing that made us a little more at ease. Before we started smoking marijuana, we were very neurotic.

    Were you guys both in law school at one point?
    KEITH: Yeah, Kenny went to NYU and I went to Duke. I think going into law school somehow we thought we’d work together but, that’s not really practical.
    KENNY: I mean, it was impossible.

    If you decide to write a lawyer based TV show, you’ve got a great premise already. You guys could have your own law firm.
    KEITH: Yeah, that would be awesome. I mean, I gotta get my degree first.

    You don’t need a degree to be a TV lawyer.
    KEITH: Oh yeah, you’re right!
    KENNY: We’d work together at “Lucas and Lucas” as criminal lawyers. We’d work exclusively in the Williamsburg/Bushwick area. That wouldn’t be bad.
    But you’d only deal with minor crimes.
    KEITH: Yeah, you don’t want to take it too far. Maybe like Matlock.

    Did you watch Matlock?
    KEITH: Oh, I loved Matlock. That was one of my favorite shows. That was the show that encouraged me to go to law school. I loved Matlock so much, I wanted to become a lawyer.
    KENNY: Keith was a little more adamant about law school than me.

    How did Friends of the People come about?
    KENNY: We were at the Montreal Comedy Festival in 2012 doing the New Faces of Comedy with Jermaine Fowler. We drove up to Montreal with him and then drove back to New York with him. During the drives, we started throwing ideas out about a show that would be pretty cool and weird. Jermaine was good friends with Kevin Barnett and Josh Rabinowitz, so he brought those guys along. Then he talked to Jennifer Bartels and Lil Rel Howery from the In Living Color reboot. We all had the same manager at the time, so he put it all together and told us to come up with some sort of pilot with sketch ideas we could pitch around town. We came up with some really underdeveloped sketches and we pitched them to various networks. Comedy Central bought it. We shot the pilot, but everything was bad about it. It was horrible, so Comedy Central said no, as they should have. TruTV gave us another chance to reshoot the pilot, but we learned a lot from the failures. We took a different approach and it just came out so much better.

    Did you take inspiration from other shows when coming up with Friends of the People?
    KENNY: Yeah. Chappelle’s Show, Human Giant, and Derrick Comedy. Prerecorded sketches are pretty much all we do so it’s hard to draw inspiration from shows like In Living Color and Saturday Night Live because they do live shows. We don’t do that.

    Is the writing process for Friends of the People mostly collaborative or do people write any sketches individually?
    KEITH: It’s very collaborative. The castmates write on the show. We also have three additional writers that help with scripting, plus our showrunner. We all pitch ideas, and whatever we collectively think is the funniest we move forward with. We try to leave the scripting to the more advanced writers, but everyone’s involved. It’s all very organic, a very collaborative process. Everyone’s pitching ideas and punching them up.
    KENNY: Working all together helps us generate way more ideas in a short period of time.

    When it comes to your stand-up, do you always write material together or work on stuff individually?
    KEITH: It’s a little bit of both. I mean, we talk a lot, so it’s really hard for me to figure out what idea I’ve come up with and what Kenny’s come up with. We talk so much about the bits we’re working on. Most of the ideas come about from our conversations and then separately, we’ll think about ways to punch them up. The punch-ups are generally independent, but the overall idea of what we want to explore is something we collaborate on. There are times when we come up with independent jokes, but I don’t think we’ve come up with an independent joke just sitting down and writing. We come up with ideas and then we’ll talk it out. We’ll make it into a fully fleshed out joke.


    Does weed increase or decrease the level of your creativity when you’re writing sketches?
    KEITH: I used to think maybe marijuana would have an adverse effect on being able to produce but, no it’s been beneficial to my writing. It helps me think on another level. I feel like I think about things differently when I’m high. When I’m not stoned, I don’t know, you just…
    KENNY: Let your mind flow.
    KEITH: Yeah when you’re stoned, you let it flow, especially writing for a show like Lucas Bros Moving Co.

    Animation is a great platform to experiment with drug hallucinations. There’s an episode of Lucas Bros Moving Co. where you guys trip on mushrooms. It’s insane.
    KENNY: Absolutely. I mean I think that you’re consuming colors, visualizations, and sounds, all of that plays a role in Lucas Bros Moving Co. A lot of that comes from being under the influence of marijuana.

    Ghostbusters is being rebooted. Is there any movie or TV show that you’d want to reboot?
    KEITH: I would love to see Revenge of the Nerds rebooted. In this day and age with bullying, I think you could still capture what they captured in the 80s, but now you’re also touching on something that they couldn’t talk about, like cyber bullying.

    Who would you cast to be in the Revenge of the Nerds reboot?
    KEITH: I’d probably cast all my friends. Pete Davidson, Jerrod Carmichael, and Eric Andre. It would take place at a black college. That would give it a different vibe.

    What is the dumbest question you can ask identical twins?
    KENNY: “Are you guys brothers?”

    Someone actually asked you that?
    KENNY: Yup. We’ve been asked that question multiple times. It’s perplexing. It’s such a weird question to ask.
    KEITH: “Can we read each other’s minds” is science fiction.

    Would you ever want to switch places with each other?
    KEITH: Yeah. If Kenny was the mayor of a city, I would ask him to switch with me for a week or so.
    What would you do for a week as mayor of New York City?
    KEITH: I would go crazy, I would legalize marijuana. I would make it mandatory for everybody to eat coleslaw every Tuesday.

    KEITH: I don’t know, just to make weird choices.

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    Anita Flores

    Anita Flores is the two time raffle-winning recipient of an iPod mini and a 25% off coupon to Bertucci’s. She has also written for Paste Magazine, Nerve, and Portable TV. Follow her on Twitter for the latest updates on pizza and Kelsey Grammer's career: @anitajewtina

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