The Lucas Bros – an identical duo of twin comedies – wrote the story that became the new film Judas and the Black Messiah. Hide caption courtesy of Loshak PR
Courtesy Loshak PR
Courtesy Loshak PR
The Lucas Bros are a stand-up comedy duo that makes you laugh with twisted and astute footage. There’s stoner humor, biting satire, philosophy, and jokes about Jell-O and Deion Sanders. Keith and Kenny Lucas are identical twins too, which gives them extra space to play with.
“Here’s a rule of thumb. You should never make mushrooms with a guy who looks like you,” they joke in hers Netflix Special 2017.
The Lucas Bros are on the rise: They write and will star in Seth MacFarlane’s “Reimagining” of the 1984 film Revenge of the Nerds. They also made the story that the new film Judas and the Black Messiah will be based (in theaters and on HBO Max February 12).
Judas and the Black Messiah tell the story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya), the charismatic leader of the Illinois Black Panther Party in the 1960s and the black messiah of history. Judas is William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), an African American arrested for interstate car theft posing as a federal civil servant. In the film we see the FBI recruiting O’Neal. To avoid jail time and to make some cash, he was ordered to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and provide information about Hampton to the FBI. O’Neal became so much a Panther insider that he was responsible for safety. He provided the FBI with a floor plan of Hampton’s apartment. In 1969, Chicago police raided the apartment, killing both Hampton and another Panther leader, Mark Clark.
I think it’s important to see how insidious the system has been of pitting young African Americans against one another … to achieve their goals of minimizing the threat of black messiah.
The Lucas brothers first met Fred Hampton in college. Instead of just a biography, they wanted the film to show how the FBI recruited informants in the Black Community. “I think it’s important to see how insidious the system was of pitting young African Americans against each other,” says Kenny. “How they essentially use poor blacks against poor blacks to achieve their goals of minimizing the threat of black messiah. We just thought it was important to see both sides of the coin.”
The Lucas brothers have seen firsthand the extremes of society. They grew up in Newark, New Jersey, on the infamous Garden Spiers housing project. “Pissy hallways, broken elevators. Infested with rats and rodents … drug trafficking, violence everywhere,” they recall. “But there is a community there. People live there. There are families. My family,” says Kenny. Her father was sent to prison when he was six. When her mother got a job at the VA Hospital, they were able to move to a safer neighborhood. Kenny and Keith Lucas graduated from college and went to law school (Duke and NYU) but dropped out.
“It was weird to go to law school and be poor and black,” says Kenny, “because … I see the ramifications of politics and law on a daily basis, and especially when it comes to African American and African American.” the concept of crime and how it is projected onto black people. “Instead, the Lucas brothers decided to focus on” what has a direct emotional impact on people. “
Last summer, the Lucas brothers wrote about what it was like growing up in the Garden Spiers for Vulture. In the “Our brother Kaizen“They describe their friendship with Kaizen Crossen, who, years after the Lucas brothers moved, murdered a neighbor, a father of two, before he was killed by the police.
“It seems we and Kaizen were worlds apart as we sat on the manicured lawns of our college discussing Kantian metaphysics with privileged students from all walks of life as Kaizen braved the harsh Newark winters to raise money for his growing family looking. “They wrote. “Internally, however, we all suffered from acute post-traumatic stress disorder growing up in a war-torn inner city.”
The Lucas brothers’ awareness-raising and Newark connection caught the attention of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker. In 1999 Booker – then Newark City Councilor – went on hunger strike in front of the Garden Spiers. He also served as the city’s mayor. Last summer, in a conversation with Keith and Kenny on his Instagram, Booker compared them to Eddie Murphy for their “insightful, powerful humor” and for being “uncompromising in the way they used humor to shake people’s watch”.
They press the envelope and have a kind of philosophical view of the world that is also noticeable in their comedy.
In their Netflix special, they recall a former white co-writer who, after a long day, complained that they worked “like slaves” even though the work, as the Lucas brothers put it, “talked about Steve Harvey and whether or not his mustache is goofy. “They tell stories of her father spending most of their upbringing in prison. If he’s released, he’ll want some father-son time. The Lucas brothers joke that they don’t. “Dude, we’re paying rent now.”
Humor aside, the brothers are open about the real pain beneath their jokes. “We just weren’t in a relationship,” Kenny tells her father. “It was very difficult growing up as a child without a father’s presence, especially when you grew up in a city like this [Newark]”Eventually they made up with their father, but” it was a very long, emotional journey. “
The Lucas brothers say that with all of their art they want to raise awareness of systemic racism and the PTSD that it causes. Calling them “brilliant” Erica Huggins, president of Seth MacFarlane’s Fuzzy Door Entertainment, says their awareness-raising comedy is partly why she reached out to them to see if they’d be interested in seeing McFarlane’s Revenge of the Writing and starring nerds project. “They press the envelope and have a kind of philosophical view of the world that is reflected in their comedy,” she says.
The Lucas brothers admit that they were fans of the original film, but admit that it hasn’t aged well. They promise their version will be very different because times have changed, says Kenny.
“It’s like bullying and nerd juxtaposing so different from how it was in the 80s, when you have such a strong dichotomy between what it was to be a bully and what it was to be a nerd. ” he says. “Well, that fused together. And I think that’s why this is the right time to write a story about it.”
They look forward to giving Revenge of the Nerds the update they need – and making it personal.
Nina Gregory edited this story for the radio and Petra Mayer adapted it for the web.