It would be inaccurate to say that identical twins Keith and Kenny Lucas, better known in comedic circles as The Lucas Bros., are co-dependent. But they certainly lean on each other a lot — onstage and off.
After spending three years mostly apart while each attended law school — Keith at Duke and Kenny at NYU — the Newark-born siblings, 29, came to realize more than ever that joining forces was their best bet for success.
“We’ve always been a sort of support system [for each other] in everything we do,” Kenny says during a recent phone call. “So, like, when we started playing basketball we would always be separate, but then we realized we were so great together that we just always play together now. We have this theory that whenever we work together, we’re just better.”
Their growing prominence is proof. Besides their extensive touring on the standup circuit (they’ll be at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen Oct. 11), the Bros. did a memorable guest shot in the big-screen comedy “22 Jump Street” and star in their own cartoon series, “Lucas Bros. Moving Co.” A new live-action show, “Friends of the People,” premieres on truTV Oct. 28.
Getting to this point, though, hasn’t been easy. In fact, Kenny says, “It took an incredible amount of work.”
“I would say up until a month ago we were still kind of shaky,” Keith says. “Not shaky, but we would have moments where we were not completely in sync. Now I think we’ve reached that point where it’s really good. We still have moments where it can be kind of tough, but for the most part we’re pretty much in sync.”
An especially polished example of this synchrony occurs in “22 Jump Street.” Playing twin college roommates who meet their across-the-hall neighbors (Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum), the brothers can’t help but fall into stereo-speak, repeating the same words simultaneously: “Carrots. Pumpernickel. Glow sticks. Twins!” A congratulatory bro-shake follows.
Besides basketball and comedy, their bond is strengthened by a mutual love of marijuana. Both say they abstained in law school, and Keith claims to have refrained in college as well. Now, though, it’s a daily activity — one they’ve learned to tailor so it enhances their work rather than impedes it.
“You know how you smoke and you get lazy? That’s not how we do it,” Keith says. “We smoke and work. I’ve learned how to work while being stoned. If I couldn’t work while being stoned, I wouldn’t work anymore. The fact that I’m still able to produce at what I think is a pretty high level — I try to moderate it and keep it consistent.”
“It also depends on what time you smoke,” Kenny adds helpfully. “We don’t smoke midday, because that’s when you get most of your work done. We try to start either late at night or early in the morning. You smoke early in the morning and you go do some exercise, you’re going to be in a great state. If you smoke and then do yoga, you’re going to feel marvelous the entire day.”
Now you know — if you didn’t already.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of being a team, Kenny and Keith agree, is the security they feel during their freewheeling live performances. While they occasionally talk over one another or disagree on the direction a certain bit should take, Kenny says, “the advantages far outweigh the challenges.
“You have someone to share both the laughs and the terrible stories with. So if you bomb, you can just sit back and laugh at it immediately instead of beating yourself up.”
“Since I’m not by myself, I’m not as introspective,” Keith says. “I don’t spend too much time thinking about what I did wrong. I start talking to my brother and we move on to the next thing.”
Among comedians, he notes, the sensation of feeling utterly alone — whether in Hollywood or on the road — is a common one. The Lucas Bros. don’t have that problem.
“I always have someone to talk to,” Keith says. “It’s a huge psychological advantage.”