The Lucas Brothers debut their first hour special today on Netflix, and it’s unlike any special you’ve seen before. For starters, there are two people on stage, something that rarely takes place in stand-up comedy, and according to the brothers, there’s never been a black stand-up duo to record an hour, so consider this a history-making event. Having two Lucases on stage is not the only thing that makes “On Drugs” unique- the twin brothers made some very unusual choices, like having a giant Richard Nixon image on stage with them and ending the hour with a costly animation that is also Nixon-centric. Those who know and love the Lucas Bros. will be thrilled to see they cover plenty of 90’s pop culture in the special, and being high is definitely a thread running through the hour. And the way they cover politics is unlike anything that anyone else is doing today. The hour was taped at the Bell House in Brooklyn. We got the chance to talk to the Lucas Bros before their big Netflix debut.
The Interrobang: Congratulations on the new special. It’s really great and it’s very Lucas Brothers, I have to say. [Laughter]
Kenny Lucas: I appreciate that. That’s the highest compliment we can ever get.
The Interrobang: You guys really touch on every color of the Lucas rainbow, and by that, I mean ’90s culture, wrestling, politics, animation, getting high – it’s all there. Did you guys actually go and make sure you touched on everything, or is this just naturally what flows out of you?
Kenny Lucas: I think it’s what flows out of our consciousness. It’s just the way it is.
Keith Lucas: It’s just flowing out.
The Interrobang: I don’t think you missed anything. So, you guys are always working on a million projects. There’s animated shows, live shows, web series, sketch things going on … what made you guys choose now to focus on putting together a stand up special?
Kenny Lucas: I think this just sort of all crystallized at the right moment. I knew that I wanted to release an hour special, and we had always been building to this moment. I wasn’t certain if the through line was fully developed until now, and now that … with Trump as President, it just sort of like … it was perfect … it was, like, symbiotic.
Keith Lucas: We knew if either Hillary or Trump won … focusing on the drug war and Nixon, it wouldn’t have impacted that. So it just felt like the right time.
The Interrobang: When you guys were working on so many shows, were you continuing to do stand up during that, or did you have to kind of restart again a little bit?
Kenny Lucas: We were always doing stand up. We’d do it in back rooms in bars, and we’d keep it really quiet. It was never like a big thing, but we’re always going up.
The Interrobang: This special is different from anything I’ve ever seen in a lot of ways. I wanted to talk to you guys about some of the choices you made. There’s a third person on stage with you, and it’s a really odd choice. You’ve got Nixon … Nixon on stage with you. What led to that?
Kenny Lucas: I was very stoned when I was thinking about the set. The real idea is that Nixon started the war on drugs, and I feel like the war on drugs pretty much had the most profound impact on our lives. I don’t know why so many things connect to that one policy, but we were born during the crack epidemic; our father went to prison for crimes related to the drug war; we went to law school studying crime. He went to the law school that Nixon went to. Keith went to Duke Law; Nixon went to Duke Law, so it just like …I feel like he’s our spirit animal for some reason. He’s our guardian angel for some reason. I don’t know … Nixon’s our guy.
Keith Lucas: He’s also just a fascinating guy. Irrespective of his presidency, he’s just a fascinating dude.
Kenny Lucas: And then for Trump to idolize Nixon is just like, “What the fuck, man?” How is this all happening? It just doesn’t make any sense to me at all. And I love “The Big Lebowski;” the movie “The Big Lebowski.” That one poster … I mean, the one photo with Nixon bowling, when he’s checking his messages. I always loved it, so I was like, “Fuck it. I’m going to put it on the stage.”
The Interrobang: Was there ever any question that you would record a special on stage together? Did you guys ever sit and talk about whether you should do a special together or separately?
Keith Lucas: Once we started doing stand up together, we knew that our first special was going to be the both of us together. But we were always … we want to experiment with the form, so maybe our next one we’ll do it separately, but the first one had to be together.
The Interrobang: What’s the most challenging thing about doing a special with another person? What are some of the difficulties people don’t realize?
Keith Lucas: That’s an amazing question because there is some duo discrimination in the stand up world. Just simple things like, if you go to an open mic and they don’t have two mics, so you have to sort of adjust how you deliver jokes.
Kenny Lucas: There’s also a timing thing. Our timing has to be almost flawless for jokes to work because if we fuck up the timing, it’s really thrown off, so that’s a challenge. Audio levels … sometimes one mike is too high; the other one is too low. That disrupts the set.
Keith Lucas: Just making sure … Kenny mentioned timing, but also just … when we were developing our material when we first started, we both had theories of comedy that didn’t necessarily coalesce. But just figuring out POV; it’s much harder when it’s two people trying to figure out a singular POV. Maybe it’s more difficult, or maybe it’s you gain more truth from it because you have a quote-unquote oppositional force bringing in different jokes. So, I don’t know if the dialectical makes the POV stronger …
Kenny Lucas: I think it’s good to be challenged on positions because … it could make you more hesitant to try, but I believe our relationship is such that we’re so open and honest with one another, that we’re always going to try and shoot. And if it doesn’t work, it just doesn’t work, but we’re never going to deny one another’s creative impulse.
The Interrobang: If you’re up there alone and you kind of get off track, you can figure out your way to circle back around. But there are two of you. How did you guys handle that when you were shooting the special?
Keith Lucas: There are some moments when we were filming it. Sometimes, one of us tends to … we’ll go off on a deep end and just keep talking and keep talking, and then …It’s generally me, and then Kenny will reign it in and get us back on track. Kenny tends to know the transitional spot and how to get us back to the material. Whereas, I tend to just mumble and ramble with no regards for the punchline.
Kenny Lucas: But sometimes it works. You don’t always need pipelines.
Keith Lucas: You don’t always need pipelines, but sometimes you need direction.
The Interrobang: One of the things you guys bring up in the special is the idea of the black cameo in movies. And I know you guys must have some favorites.
Kenny Lucas: “Forty Year Old Virgin,” Kevin Hart. That was one of the greatest cameos I’ve ever …
Keith Lucas: Amazing. Craig Robinson in “Knocked Up.” Sam Jackson in “Kill Bill.” So many black cameos. I never even … oh wow.
Kenny Lucas: One of the greatest black cameos happens in Meteor Man, a black film. It was Bill Cosby … he made a … well, he’s terrible, he’s horrible now … but it was a great, weird cameo in a movie with a bunch of black people. He just shows up as homeless dude. It’s the weirdest thing. He’s not homeless now, but maybe he was auditioning.
The Interrobang: So what are you guys working on next?
Keith Lucas: We’re working on an animated project with TBS. That’s been the thing that we’ve put all of our energies into. We have some live action concepts as well. We want to do a multi-cam. We also want to do another special, maybe within the next three years if we survive the Trump Administration. And we’re going to write a book about theories on comedy.
Kenny Lucas: It’s very broad, but we’ll have a thesis by … in the next 15 years or so.
The Interrobang: And since you brought up animation, I have to ask about the animation at the end of your special, which is just … I know you guys were high when you thought of it. It’s just unbelievably crazy.
Kenny Lucas: Oh my God, I was so stoned.
Keith Lucas: We’ve been peddling that joke for so long, and the animated version of it is just … it just made a lot of sense.
Kenny Lucas: It’s one joke. It’s one joke that we’ve been thinking about for a real long time. It was like, “Can we spend 25 thousand dollars on one joke? Ah, let’s try it.”
The Interrobang: Who’s voicing Nixon in that?
Keith Lucas: That’s Jermaine Fowler.
Kenny Lucas: It is the greatest shit ever. We totally say “nigga” as often as possible, just say it whenever you can; who cares?
The Interrobang: And you did.
Keith Lucas: We had to cut some out, but I think we got enough.
Keith and Kenny Lucas’ first hour special “On Drugs” premieres on Netflix on Tuesday, April 18th. Don’t miss it!