Kenny and Keef, the animated twins that star in Fox's Lucas Bros Moving Co., are lazy. Even more than regularly missing appointments or bailing on jobs, theirs is a supreme laziness that boarders on nihilism, an aloof assurance that if it all ended right now, hey, that'd be chill too. In one episode, after Kenny is rescued at the last second from plummeting off an icy cliff, he comments, "Aw man, I was ready to die."
Over the phone from the Bushwick apartment he shares with his twin brother, the real Keith Lucas has just woken up. "What have we been up to?" he asks his actual brother Kenny, conferenced on the line from the next room. After a silent few moments, Kenny shrugs, "We haven't really been up to much." But the 29-year-olds have definitely been busy. Since Fox renewed their series for a second season—the New York Times commended the show's "disarming sweetness and a clever, stylized casualness"—the IRL Lucas brothers have premiered a sketch comedy series on Tru TV, called Friend of the People; landed a roll in 22 Jump Street alongside Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum; and performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. They've also spent years paying dues: the duo have fumbled countless auditions, been out-shined by peers with similar punchlines, and, until recently, gone unnoticed by the larger television audience. We caught up with the budding duo to trace their rise from dropping out of grad school to dishing out a distinct comedic voice, too weird to steal and too cool to fail.
Where are you guys from? KENNY: We're originally from New Jersey. Lived there for seven years, then moved down to South Carolina. KEITH: Our mom didn't like the educational system in Jersey, so she moved to North Carolina to be in a better area for public schools, and it was cheaper. KENNY: We loved it; it was beautiful. You know, it was a welcomed change from like the inner city ghettos of Newark and Irvington. When I was young, I didn't realize it, but the change is really dramatic. We got to see trees and hang out with people. It was two completely different ecosystems. Completely different vibe: the way the air smells, how people treat you. I think it really really affected our growth.
How did you end up pursuing entertainment? Did mom have you in commercials as kids? KENNY: I'm very thankful our mom did not do that. It would've ruined our lives [laughs]. We'd be totally different people. In 2009, I was in law school at NYU, in my third year. I wasn't really excited about it. I had done a summer internship the previous year, and I had these doubts about law school and whether I wanted to become a lawyer. I was also going through a break up at the time, so I was going through a bit of a metamorphosis. I took some improv classes and did some stand up, and decided I really wanted to do this. I got in touch with Keith who was at Duke law at the time, and he was having similar doubts.
Did you have a passion for comedy beforehand? KENNY: I feel like we've always been involved with comedy, just never directly. We were never class clowns, but when you grow up in the hood, you're always telling jokes. It's just a funny neighborhood. Everyone's funny: your family, your friends. When we got older we started getting more sophisticated. We watched a lot of Seinfeld and sketch comedy, more sitcoms. We were never comfortable with the performance part, but once we started doing stand-up regularly, we hit a stride. KEITH: We were always students, but once we decided to perform we became better students. We always absorbed comedy, but as consumers, not so much as producers. Once we started doing comedy, we absorbed it as producers. I think we became better at it.
What were those first couple of stand-up gigs like? KEITH: When we first started, we over-thought it. We over-thought everything. We thought that we had a solid five minutes, and had our punchline, and had everything structured. And then we got onstage, and there was no chemistry. The jokes were really bad. There was a lot of failure in the beginning. KENNY: We didn't know what the fuck we were doing. We thought we did, but we didn't. It just took time for us to get into a groove and figure out how to bounce off of each other. I guess we thought because we were twins we'd be able to just instantly be able to bounce off one another. That wasn't the case.
How did doing stand-up turn into Lucas Bros Moving Co.? KEITH: We had no set plan. We decided to aggressively pursue stand-up in 2010. We got a manager, and he worked with us for over a year to develop a solid five-minute set and audition for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. We got it, and the show went really well. One of the execs from Fox saw it and asked if we had any ideas for a show. KENNY: Nick Weidenfield, he's the head of [late night Fox programming block] ADHD. He's not just an exec—he's more of the creative mind behind it. So we gave him some ideas. Master P taking over the city of Brooklyn using golden tanks. It was really stupid and weird, but he liked it and said, "Let's build a script, let's try to write a pilot."
Nick used to be in development at Adult Swim, and ADHD came off as trying to do something in that lane, which is cool. Were you guys always into darker, weirder humor? KEITH: We were big fans of Adult Swim, especially during Nick's tenure. A lot of the shows he was involved in, we were fans of. We've always been fans of that kind of adult, subversive comedy. But I didn't… Kenny, did you? KENNY: I never anticipated that. I didn't know anything about ADHD. I just knew we were making a cartoon, but never could've anticipated. KENNY: Yeah, the second season's coming soon. I think we're going to push it over to FXX instead of Fox. It's a better fit. And this time around we're really finding our footing. Before, we were really ambitious but didn't have a plan, now we have a plan.
How much of the real Lucas Brothers are in the characters on the show? KEITH: I would say 70 percent. We're not that lazy. I don't think we could exist being that lazy. KENNY: And that includes their general philosophy on life, their outlook. I would say we're pretty much in line. They're a little bit more committed to the philosophy, and they're a little more true to themselves. We have to exist in the real word, so we have to compromise a little bit more. But yeah, those guys… KEITH: I would love to be them. That would be awesome.
How did you guys end up landing a role in 22 Jump Street? KEITH: We were out in LA working on the cartoon—this is a very boring story—but our agent asked us if we wanted to audition for this movie, but he didn't tell us what the movie was. At that point, we had auditioned for some shit and never got it. KENNY: We've had horrible auditions. KEITH: We suck at auditions.
"We gave Nick Weidenfeld some ideas: Master P taking over the city of Brooklyn using golden tanks. It was really stupid and weird, but he liked it."
What other stuff had you tried out for? KEITH: A CBS pilot that didn't get picked up. Some MTV show. We were supposed to be VJs, and it was horrible. What else did we do? KENNY: We auditioned for Louis, and that didn't go well. KEITH: I think they went with JB Smoove instead. KENNY: Was it? Was it JB Smoove? KEITH: So before 22 Jump Street we were like 0 for 5, 0 for 8. So we were like, "Whatever, we'll try it. We'll do it for kicks." We were convinced we weren't going to get it. KENNY: And then we saw it was for 22 Jump Street, a big budget thing. So we still had the same approach, like not giving a shit. We went and I guess we did well, and they gave it to us. That time around, we wanted to underplay it and be ourselves. Our other auditions, we would always prepare and rehearse, and go in kind of tight. This one, we assumed we weren't going to get it, so it made it easier. It was a very loose audition. We were doing our own jokes, being ourselves, as opposed to the high energy VJ for MTV.
You two have also premiered a new sketch comedy show, Friends of the People, on Tru TV. KENNY: We co-created it, and produce it. We write on it and we act, so we're kind of doing everything. KEITH: Yeah, but it's seven of us, so it's a lot of people with a lot of voices. There are some irreverent moments in the show but it's a little more traditional [than the Lucas Bros. Moving Co]. There's character sketches, some premise sketches. It's a mixture of that.
Are you planning to bring on any guests during the season? KENNY: We have a ton of celebrities. Some of them are like B celebrities, which I like. I don't like to use really famous people. It's really nostalgic with people who grew up in the '90s, so it's like, "It's cool to see you guys on screen again." Remember Debo from Friday? He's in there. We got Screech from Saved by the Bell. Mason Plumlee, and Nerlens Noel from the NBA. Kel Mitchell, shit, Jaleel White.
He's actually on the show? KENNY: Yeah, he's on the show.
Has he seen the sketch you guys did about Family Matters? KEITH: I don't think so. I don't think he saw it, which is good. He probably wouldn't have done the show.
A couple of weeks ago, Key and Peele released a Family Matters sketch that was similar to yours. Have you seen their sketch? KENNY: Yeah, I've seen it. It's really good. It's one of those things where I don't think they stole it. I'm pretty sure they didn't. It's probably just parallel thinking. But it's unfortunate that, you know, you put out a sketch and it doesn't get any kind of traction— KEITH: Well, that's the game.
Yeah, coincidences like that do happen, and people's material gets jacked in comedy, that also happens. BOTH: That's true.
Have you guys ever had that kind of experience before? Floating an idea out and then seeing it pop up somewhere? KEITH: For some reason, I think our ideas are so weird that people would just have a hard time trying to steal it. We tend to put in so many references and try to make it as different as possible, so it's almost like jack-proof. It may not be the funniest material, but I know it'll be the weirdest. It'll look different.
I feel like the darker, weirder humor that's become so popular now is a result of how bugged-out stuff was on TV in the '90s. Why is there a Robot Urkel terrorizing the family? How'd we get here? KENNY: You go from a normal, upper-middle class family dealing with everyday issues to a robot that's attacking all of them. It's such a leap; it's two completely different shows. It blows your mind, but as a kid you don't know your mind is being blown, it totally expands. And then as you get older, you reflect on that, and then you can produce it in that way. It's very fascinating. It was a crazy time. It's so weird when you're a kid and you see these guys, and then you grow up and you work with them. It's sort of surreal. I remember laughing at these guys when I was a kid, never expecting to work with them. Now we're eating craft services together.