On The Couch with the Lucas Brothers

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The Lucas Brothers

Consulting this week’s clients proved to be a unique and exciting challenge—twins? Easy. Comedians? Been there, done that. Twins who do comedy together? Unheard of! My patients, however, made it clear early on that they were used to talking as a team. They seemed to finish each other’s thoughts, one brother filling in the blanks where the other left off. In fact, these brothers almost served as their own therapists, reassuring each other’s beliefs throughout our time together. Their sense of humor and comedic timing is wry and slow, to say the least, but they never seem to lose track of their punch lines or final points, always rounding out their answers eloquently. While I’m sure they learned a lot about themselves, the Lucas Brothers taught me more about the importance of brotherhood and comedy than I could have ever imagined. Their new show(s!), Lucas Bros., Moving Company, and Friends Of The People, echo their one group mentality perfectly, and shed light on some issues we worked out in our time together; from watching way too much television to becoming paranoid about job stability.

You guys were born in New Jersey, but grew up in North Carolina. Did moving around affect you a lot as kids?

Keith: Absolutely. It was completely unstable, so I kind of got used to change. You kind of get used to things not being consistent or stable. So it certainly affected me. I feel like I’m more pragmatic because of that, I don’t get too attached to things because of the fact that we moved around so much.

Kenny: Oh yeah, it totally had an effect. You move around a lot as a comedian, so I’m not uncomfortable spending weeks on the road, I’m just like really cool with it.

Keith: Yeah, whenever things are too consistent it kind of freaks me out, actually. Like, “Oh, there’s something weird about this… we have to move somewhere!” I have an inclination to want to move and change because I moved around so much when I was a kid.

Do you think your childhood has had any other impact on your careers as comedians?

Kenny: Nah, we were never really class clowns. We did watch a lot of TV, and that is a big factor into our comedy now. Our early influences came directly from the TV we watched when we were like nine or ten. It had a huge impact.

Keith: Yeah, we consumed so much—we were watching everything. We were watching all the animation, we were watching black sitcoms, we were watching Seinfeld.

Kenny: Anything we could get our hands on.

Keith: Anything we could get our hands on, we were watching. I would say we overconsumed, and I honestly didn’t think we would have any use for this overconsumption, but now we’ve been able to trickle it into our comedy.

What made you decide to have one animated and one non-animated show?

Kenny: We wanted to work in both mediums, just to see where our comedy would go, so we thought sketch and animation would be a good mix.

Keith: We’re sort of trying to prepare for that live-action sitcom that’s not necessarily sketch or animation. We figured if we test our comedy out in animation and sketch, we’ll figure out new ways to push it.

Do either you feel like on the road or during shows, you’re overshadowed by the other brother?

Kenny: I never feel that way. I feel like it’s balanced, and most of the people in the audience, they have no idea who’s Kenny and who’s Keith. We sound so similar, so it’s almost impossible to get overshadowed. It’s hard to overshadow a person who looks and acts exactly like you.

Who first had the idea to do standup together?

Kenny: I first had the initial thought, but then when I talked to Keith, it was sort of a two-headed approach. We both agreed that this is what we wanted to do. I was in New York, so I had the privilege of being in a huge city, and being able to explore different comedic scenes, so I think that’s what kind of accelerated our push to comedy.

Is New York your favorite place to do standup, or do you think there’s a better scene in another city?

Kenny: I don’t think there’s a better scene than New York City.

Keith: No. New York, I’m pretty confident, is the mecca of comedy. There’s a boom right now. There are so many great performers concentrated here that it’s remarkable.

Kenny: And getting TV deals here, it kind of gives you no excuse to go to L.A. if you can establish yourself here.

What do your parents think of your comedy? Are there jokes they aren’t happy with?

Keith: We don’t really pick on our mom as much. We pick on our dad a lot, but our dad’s cool with everything. He’s a pragmatic dude, he understands. I mean, that’s the least he can do for us. Our mom has always been pretty supportive. She hasn’t really given us any blowback. She tries to do, because she watches a lot of comedy, she tries to give us pointers.

Kenny: She just knows us better than anyone else. When we’re on T.V., she can tell if we’re nervous, or we’re not as confident as we should be. So she’ll call that out and tell us to be confident.

As soon as I get down in the dumps about a particular joke or a particular response from critics, I can always just talk to Keith, so it’s sort of like having a therapist.

Have you guys ever bombed on stage? How does that make you feel?

Kenny: We’ve bombed plenty of times. Initially, when we first started, I used to feel like once you bombed, it was the end of the world. But once you do it enough, you realize that some days you’re going to be on, some days you’re not. I think I’ve learned a lot from the bombs—what doesn’t work, and how to manipulate an audience. There are a lot of different things you learn from a bomb.

Keith: I think when we first started off we were idealistic, but we didn’t know about the process as much. I think once you’ve stayed in the game long enough, you realize that bombing is part of the process, so what you do is you take those failures and you try to learn from them.

Do you think your comedic styles differ at all?

Kenny: Do we have any differences in our sensibilities? I don’t think so.

Keith: I think our sensibilities are pretty equal. I feel like we laugh at the same things for the most part, we pull from the same sources, and we approach comedy in a similar fashion.

On Friends Of The People, you have a segment called “Squabblin’ and Quarrelin’,” although you don’t seem to disagree on much. Is there anything in real life on which you two disagree?

Kenny: I would say politically, I tend to be more to the left, and Keith tends to be more to the right.

Keith: Not right, not conservative…

Kenny: More to the center.

Keith: We’re both liberal, but I tend to be a bit more radical. Kenny’s a bit more assertive. He’s more of the leader, I suppose. He makes the tough calls. I’m more or less the… technician. I’m more the strategic guy, you’re more practical.

You talk briefly on your show about drones and get surprisingly deep for a minute. Is there any interest in being the next Colbert and doing a political show?

Kenny: You know, in the future, anything’s possible. We’re really interested in politics and I would love to explore that a little bit more in my comedy, but I feel like…

Keith: You don’t want to come off as heavy-handed.

Kenny: I don’t want to come off as preaching to people. If we could figure out a way to discuss politics but in a less antagonistic way, then I would totally be into that.

How has comedy affected your mental health?

Kenny: I think it exacerbates a lot of things—anxieties and fears, because the business is so random, and anything can happen at any time, so it’s kind of hard to really feel secure about things. I think sometimes you get more paranoid, too.

Keith: Absolutely. I’m not sure if every comic works this way, but I read the news a lot just to read the news, so I’m more aware of the tragedies of the world, and I’m like, “I know about these things that I don’t really want to know about, but I do,” and that’s not necessarily because of comedy, but it’s a part of the process. I do believe that it increases your insecurities and some people can become paranoid and depressed. I try to move away from it and remember that it’s just a career and it’s not that big of a deal, but sometimes you can get caught up in it.

Kenny: As a comedian you’re so introspective, so you’re finding out all of your flaws. I think that’s healthy to some degree, but when you’re doing it constantly and comparing yourself to the others and criticizing yourself, it’s really unhealthy for your psychology. So that’s why it’s great to have my brother, because it’s like, as soon as I get down in the dumps about a particular joke or a particular response from critics, I can always just talk to Keith, so it’s sort of like having a therapist.

Keith: Yeah, a therapist that looks exactly like you.