JFL42 Review: The Lucas Brothers Can’t Lose

Comedy has never been more alive and well.  Thanks to outlets like Comedy Central, the Comedy Network, and more importantly Netflix, more and more comedians are being “discovered” and becoming household names.  The great folks at JFL42 know that more access has you feenin’, they also know that although Comedy Specials in your living room are important and convenient, there is nothing like seeing top Comedy talent live and interacting with them in real time.  One of the many top talent coming to Toronto for this year’s festival is none other than the Lucas Brothers.

I first heard of the Lucas Brothers from their amazing short format animated series called Lucas Bros. Moving Co. on Fox’s Late Night Animation Domination High-Def.  Their writing was fresh and original, and they just had this thing.

Since being canceled by Fox after one season, two additional seasons were granted to them by FXX.  The show was canceled earlier this year, but the twins, Kenny and Keith, had made their mark.  Their first Netflix comedy special, The Lucas Brothers:  On Drugs, was ranked 5th of the best stand-up comedy specials of 2017.

Netflix has given new life to stand-up comedy.  It has brought the comedy club directly into your living room whenever you need a laugh.  Netflix released 26 stand-up comedy specials in 2016 and targets to double that number by the end of 2017.  The Lucas Brothers are one of the smart acts that are using the platform to their advantage.  It may have also had something to do with them selling out the majority of their six shows here in Toronto for our annual JFL42.

The Lucas Brothers’ thing is that they are two gently-mannered, soft-spoken stoners who acutely observe the world around them through thick-rimmed (dare I say, hipster) cannabis glasses.  At least that was the basis for their early material, and usually what was the cause of a lot of the hijinks they got into on the Lucas Bros. Moving Co.  But just like pot legislation, they have evolved.

The show that MobToronto was invited to was their sole midnight show at The Royal Theatre.  Admittedly, the guys were tired.  And one of them (couldn’t tell you which one because they never introduce themselves — they get it, they’re a twin act) kept messing up punchlines.  About 1/3 of their jokes, according to them, seemed not quite right.  So, here’s the thing:  based on that, the show should have bombed.  But it didn’t.  You ask anyone in the audience and they’ll tell you that the show was fantastic, and the laughs were a plenty.  The Lucas Brothers can’t lose.  There are two important reasons for that.

First, every time they “messed up” a joke whether the crowd caught the mess up or not, they admitted it.  One would call the other out on it immediately.  Then they’d have a discussion about it.  Sometimes one would even ask the other in their chill, monotone way, “Do you wanna try it again?”  To which the other would answer in his equally chill, monotone way, “Nah.  So the thing about drugs is…” or something to that affect.  The laughs rolled on as the two did more of a back and forth banter than they did a conventional stand-up set of highly constructed jokes.  And it works for two reasons.  Had it been one person up there, messing up jokes and then admitting it to the crowd for 1/3 of a set, that would be considered a bad show.  The side effect of having two comedians who trade off set-ups and punchlines like a choreographed dance, and then one misses a step, and then gets called out on it, is that the audience effectively gets brought up on the stage with the one who is calling out the other.  Kenny (or Keith) is now a part of the critical audience, and we are laughing at the misstep together, which in effect erases the misstep because we still got a laugh, we just got it a different way.

The other important reason why the Lucas Brothers Can’t Lose is because these guys are simply infectiously likeable.  They used to just remind me of the harmless apathetic stoner guys who are funny, but they are now showing their asses.  And their asses… are incredibly smart.  These two guys are mad learned.  Keith (or Kenny) walked out on stage with a huge Philosophy book that he was in the middle of, by some guy I’ve never heard of.  Their set list was the bookmark.  They opened the show with this highly philosophical quote from the author, and several times in their set rhymed off other quotes from other philosophers just to state them and then later drop them dead in the centre of a joke.  These, in truth, are not your typical stoner dudes as their earlier work suggested.  These are some thinking-ass brothers.  I just looked them up on Wikipedia, and both these guys dropped out of Law School in their third year to do this stand-up thing.  Law school.

I believe it’s a conscious decision and a brilliant move to add this dimension to their act.  The edge and uniqueness of being just another occasionally contemplative weed-head will soon be gone with the wind once Legalization happens.  Weed-smoking will go the way of the tattoo.  You heard it hear first, folks.  The Brothers are smart to stop relying on that stereotype to push their enthralling tandem form of stand-up.

Although this late night show wasn’t as polished as their very entertaining Netflix special, all is forgiven by these two who could literally just talk to each other about interesting things on a stage all night, and the crowd will be more than happy to cheer on their two favourite black genius stoner twin buddies.

The Lucas Brothers have a long career ahead of them.  You have never seen tandem stand-up done like this.  If you get a chance, don’t miss them the next time they are in Canada.

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