Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp in Dicks the Musical

Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp on the Absurdity of ‘Dicks: The Musical’ Coming to Life

I was so excited to see Dicks: The Musical because I’d seen the sketch show at the Upright Citizens Brigade that it’s based on way back in 2015. Created by Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp, the sketch show was originally called F**king Identical Twins and followed Craig (Sharp) and Trevor (Jackson) as the two realize they are long lost twin brothers and they try to get their parents back together. Talking to the stars, who can promote the movie thanks to a waiver from SAG-AFTRA that let’s Dicks: The Musical and it’s actors promote the film, it’s clear that Jackson and Sharp were not in anyway expecting a larger world to see this story.

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For me, I’d seen it and was so happy to see it again. I asked them if they were asked to change anything to make it less like the UCB version of the show or if they were encouraged to keep it true to the version that so many fans of the comedy theater fell in love with.

“What’s funny is, I feel like we didn’t do that. We were very much, and Larry was big on this, he was like, it needs to stay true to itself. And he had seen the show you interned at,” Josh Sharp said. “When he came on, he was like, ‘I love the stage tone. It needs to keep that energy as far as being very much driven by like, you feel like you’re in the room and it could go off the rails at any time. And he was always like, push it farther, push it farther. So I think more of the conversations were ‘how do you make it a movie? How do you visually serve that? And how do you pace that well and how do you expand the narrative in ways that sustain 86 minutes? But there weren’t really a lot of conversations of ‘let’s bring it down'”

For Aaron Jackson, the casting of the movie had a lot to do with the power behind the movie and bringing it to life in a way that can sustain a longer runtime than the UCB sketch show. “I do think a lot of that is to do too,” he said. “Like with casting was so important for this movie. I mean, it is for every movie, but Harris and Evelyn, they have to be so funny. They have to sing. And then not only do they have to be funny, they really have to get this very specific tone, this very specific style. And there’s really not that many people that can do it. And Josh and I were always championing Megan and Nathan, it has to be them. And we got ’em.”

Sharp went on to talk about the casting of Bowen Yang as God in the movie, saying “And then Bowen, of course, was our friend from back in the day who used to come and see it and go out to Barracuda with us after. So it felt like everybody involved under understood the DNA of this thing and that a lot of it was rooted in that show.”

Two creatives who love getting to bring this story to life

For all their love and appreciation for the casting and the experience, they still are some of the funniest people out there and do still make jokes, like saying that Megan Thee Stallion was Jackson’s babysitter. It did get us talking about Stallion’s song in the film though that had me mouth open in the movie. Megan Thee Stallion plays Trevor and Craig’s boss and she has her own song all about how men are, essentially, beneath her. It’s so incredibly good and a perfect addition to the musical as a whole.

When I brought up how I was sitting mouth open during the number, Sharp instantly said they were as well on set. “Us two on set and it’s in the scene. Truly just cuts to us being like, that’s Megan Thee Stallion. Like the acting there is, you’re like Craig and Trevor in disbelief. So is Josh and Aaron. We can’t believe Megan Thee Stallion is there.”

It led us into a conversation though about the original title of the musical itself which was F**king Identical Twins. There is a song in the musical where both Craig and Trevor realize that they’re twins and they say this line themselves and I did find myself cheering for it, something I told Jackson and Sharp. “Well, and as you know, that was the title for a long time and only at the last minute were they like, okay. ’cause everybody wanted that to be the title. But it was like, okay, so theaters actually won’t show it with that title,” Sharp revealed. “And so then the studio decided that would be easier to swallow. Wink. That’s Aaron’s joke.”

Part of what makes Dicks: The Musical so special is that it feels so much like a UCB show still, even in this version and that’s exactly what Sharp and Jackson wanted with this. More specifically, they wanted it to have feel of the Del Close Marathon, an all weekend affair that would have bit shows late into the evening that would go so off the rails that were so out there and weird that they’re hard to explain. For Sharp, that’s the appeal for him of Dicks.

“When I went there as a 19 year old, I didn’t totally get it,” Sharp said. “I was just like, everybody here gets this thing and I get parts of it, but I like need to go all in to be a part of this thing. And so I think we sort of want it to be that, that you bring your, your truants and deviance who will like get this film and you all get to hoot and holler and delight in the madness. And so people who don’t get it, it’s not for them, but also some part of that’s like, oh right, something’s going on here and I wanna be a part of it.”

Bringing the absurd to life

One of the funniest aspects of the movie comes from the roles of Harris and Evelyn, played by Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally. They’re the parents of Craig and Trevor and they separated their twins when they were born so they didn’t know that they were even related. While Mullally has done some outrageous things in her career, Nathan Lane is more of personality performer who is known for his body of work and less of the antics he is willing to do for a role. In Dicks, he does spit ham at the sewer boys though so there are no lengths to what Lane is willing to do and I asked them about getting Lane (or as I said, Timon) to do that.

“I mean we just knew that that part was like, this is so gold if we can get him to do it,” Jackson said. “And he did. I mean that’s in the blooper reel. You just see how out of body he was. But that was just, oh my God, it was incredible. He’s such… I mean he’s won three Tony’s, Emmys. Like he is treasure of the American stage and cinema. And to see him just so committed so hard, it’s incredible. And I mean he kills it.”

Having seen the show, I know how absurd it was at the start of it and having someone like Nathan Lane and Megan Mullally join your cast, you’d wonder if someone on the production side of things would have asked them to tone it down at all but both Jackson and Sharp said they were never asked to make it less outrageous. “And to your point Rachel, of like, were did you take down some of absurdity? No, we did more. ’cause in the stage show the Sewer Boys are just mentioned as a one-off line. You don’t see ’em,” Sharp said. “It’s just a joke. And so in this, it was ‘how do you make ’em these crazy puppets and blow it out?’ And again, I think there is a cinematic comp for that.”

The introduction of Jackson and Sharp

At the end of the movie, it says “introducing Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp.” While it is their first movie, the two have done television before and they’re not new to the scene so I asked about it. For them, it was a joke harkening back to the inspiration for the sketch as a whole: The Parent Trap. “It’s the very Lindsay Lohan, Hayley Mills,” Jackson said.

To which Sharp went on to talk about how it reflected the piece as a whole. “It’s a joke to us, one of the central jokes of the piece, it’s like The Parent Trap isn’t cute when grown men do it instead of little girls,” Sharp said. “So that was a joke to us. We were like, I actually don’t care that we’re being introduced in film. But I think it’s funny to go and introducing these two men in their late thirties, you know, as if we are Hayley Mills, everything in the movie to us is an attempt at a joke at least. And that was one of those things that to us was all, and it was so funny ’cause when we did that, they were like, you know, that’s actually a contractual thing. You have to work it out with the other actors and their agents and stuff. Because sometimes people negotiate who comes first and who comes last. So I think they had to call agents and be like, they wanna be last, but I promise you it’s a joke. It’s not really a thing. And so of course Nathan and all of ’em were like, yeah, let the boys be last.”

Adapting from UCB to A24

The UCB show was shorter, had Jackson and Sharp playing the roles of their parents, and was very contained so obviously there were changes made to the story to make it work for a movie. So I asked them both if they thought it would go any other than that basement in Chelsea when the theater used to be under the Gristedes in New York. “There was never one moment doing it on stage where we thought it would be anything other than a show we did in the basement of a Gristedes,” Sharp said.

And Jackson even thought the furthest they’d go is maybe a meeting with Comedy Central. But then went on to talk about how proud he was about how absurd it was that this very weird show he made with his friend became a movie for others to enjoy. “We’re so proud. And I think it’s a nice encapsulation of Josh and I’s comedic sensibility and point of view,” Jackson said. “It’s very absurd. And we like playing characters. We’re not very, I mean never say never whatever, but we’re not like interested in playing that close to ourselves. We like this kind of Looney Tunes. Josh says it’s more Hanna-Barbera than Stanislavsky and just like Sewer Boys and flying and ham and songs. We’re very vaudeville, we like putting on a show and I think it really captures that. And we like to throw a party and it feels like this is a big party. So, we’re very proud that this is our comedic voice, getting pushed out there and it doesn’t feel diluted down.”

Dicks: The Musical is in theaters now and is a hilarious weird and out there watch, one you won’t want to miss!

(image: A24)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.