The People Behind ‘Dicks: The Musical’ Also Can’t Believe It Actually Got Made

“Yes, we’re being offensive,” Josh Sharp, the co-creator/star told Jezebel. “But we’re also being absurd and crass and gross and fun and dumb.”

The People Behind ‘Dicks: The Musical’ Also Can’t Believe It Actually Got Made

A movie musical about adult separated-at-birth identical twin brothers (played by actors who are not identical twin brothers) who switch places to get their parents back together, take a trip through the bowels of New York in search of a pair of goblin-like “Sewer Boys,” try out incest, and learn, per the final number, that “God is a faggot,” doesn’t exactly come with a guarantee of box office gold. But it nonetheless now exists as Dicks: The Musical, courtesy of A24. The unlikeliness of it all isn’t lost on at least one of the writer-stars of the movie, Josh Sharp.

“Even now when people are like, ‘How did this get made?,’ I’m like, ‘You tell me,’” Sharp told Jezebel in a recent Zoom, alongside his co-writer/star Aaron Jackson. “We can’t believe it either, because it was just always this sort of thing we made to make ourselves laugh that then just kept sort of drawing in other people who are like, ‘I think that freaky shit is funny too.’”

The story originated as a shorter piece, Fucking Identical Twins, that Sharp and Jackson performed for years at Upright Citizen’s Brigade in New York. “We made negative dollars doing it in the basement of a Gristedes grocery store,” said Sharp. In Dicks, he and Jackson play Craig and Trevor, two cartoonishly straight guys who happen upon each other, realize they both work at the same vacuum manufacturer, and then discover they’re actually twins. Their relationship only, uh, intensifies from there.

Eventually, producer Kori Adelson of Chernin Entertainment caught the show and advised them to adapt it into a movie. That led to a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox. “Luckily Fox was foolish enough to pay us to make it a script and then read it and was like, ‘This isn’t a Fox movie,’ and we were like, ‘Totally, we agree,’” recalled Sharp. They shopped it and it landed with A24. Larry Charles, who wrote on Seinfeld and directed Borat, jumped on it.


“They’re like a gay Abbott and Costello or something,” he said via Zoom of Sharp and Jackson. Charles recalled leaving “as much as possible to chance” while filming to give the film the spontaneity that a comedy (especially one this broad) needs. “I want to capture lightning in a bottle,” he said.

Charles was a pie-in-the-sky choice for Sharp and Jackson, but then so was much of the team that they eventually built: The movie features Megan Thee Stallion in her first big-screen role, Bowen Yang as a yass-ified God, Megan Mullally in a completely batty, lisping turn as the boys’ mother Evelyn, and Nathan Lane in a queer straight-man role as their father Harris.

“These days there are people just sitting at home waiting to be offended, and so this is just what the doctor ordered.” —Nathan Lane

“It’s totally outrageous,” said Lane by Zoom. “So, you know, one is fearful at this stage of my long and storied career of going down in flames doing what was then called Fucking Identical Twins. My representatives were also trepidatious.” But Lane relished the opportunity of working with Charles and found Sharp and Jackson “adorable” during a dinner meeting, and decided to go with it. Nonetheless, he said working with such deeply silly material was a challenge. “You really do have to treat it seriously,” said Lane on his approach to the script. “And the more seriously you treat it, the funnier it’ll be.”

Charles recalled Megan Thee Stallion being “very hard” to pin down—so much so that they felt uncertain as to whether she’d show on set. But she did, and there she was informed that in addition to performing a song (“Out-Alpha the Alpha”), she had lines. She learned them in her trailer, “She came out and boom: she hit it,” said Charles, who filmed with her over the course of two days. “She wanted it to be great,” he said. “She was easy to work with. She had incredible electricity and charisma and it really is a great highlight of the movie.”

Mullally similarly impressed in her completely possessed performance. “She could have just come in and done [Will & Grace character] Karen Walker, and everybody would be like, ‘Yaas,’ and love it,” said Jackson. “But she’s like, ‘No, I’m creating a completely different character.’” Sharp said that Mullally told him Evelyn allowed her to tap into her three greatest talents: “singing, characters, and going to extremes.” Both Lane and Sharp recalled hearing a similar response from Mullally to the script. “The first thing she said was, ‘Boys, it’s so stupid,’” said Sharp. “And we felt very seen because to us that’s a very positive adjective.”

It should tell you something about the sensibility afoot that “stupid” is received as a compliment, and “faggot” is a “celebratory statement,” per Sharp. The word features prominently in the final number “All Love Is Love”: “All love is love/All love is love/God is a faggot/And all love is love,” go the lyrics to the chorus.

Dicks is very obviously designed as an exercise in absurdism, so it’s very hard to take any of it seriously. I wondered, though, if there is actual commentary—particularly politically charged gay commentary—behind the film’s funhouse mirror of humanity. Sharp said there sometimes is. “It’s so funny that every gay piece has to have its requisite coming-out scene,” he said. Their spin on it comes via the Nathan Lane number “Gay Old Life,” in which he unveils the Sewer Boys as his roommates. “We love the mapping game of: He’s coming out and introducing these horrific creatures, the joke of which is like, you know the fabulous gay man with a poodle he’s obsessed with. It’s like, make it a Gollum and it’s not cute anymore.”

For his part, Charles felt no trepidation taking on such queer material. For one thing, he has a history with it, at least of sorts, having directed Brüno and written Seinfeld’s “not that there’s anything wrong with that” episode. “I feel like gay culture is culture,” said the director. “And a lot of my artistic heroes were gay.” However, he saw the purview of the film as bigger than that. “I’m not thinking, oh, this is a gay movie or this is a queer movie or this is, you know, anything,” Charles explained. “This is just going to be a funny movie and people will see into it what they want. This certainly is a very big queer sensibility. I’m very proud of being part of that.” Charles compared the potential audience engagement to that with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, another movie with queer themes that ended up reaching audiences of all stripes. (Incidentally, Rocky Horror was something that inspired Charles’ direction.)


“We have a burn-it-down sensibility and we just have a queer lens to look at that through,” said Jackson. “Larry Charles, I think also very much shares the sensibility.”

“Yes, we’re being offensive, but we’re also being absurd and crass and gross and fun and dumb,” added Sharp. “And that, of course, comes from the queer sensibility of being told you’re abnormal your whole life. So then you sort of look at everything that’s quote-unquote normal in society and want to comment on how wild it is.”

“We’re in this terribly politically correct time,” said Lane. “People are banning books. And, ‘Don’t say this. Don’t say that. Don’t say gay.’ So I love [Sharp and Jackson are] just carefree. And the sheer chutzpah that went into just writing something like this. It’s a younger generation of gay men that don’t seem to give a fuck.”

Lane said that he admired “the audacity of it all.” He added: “These days there are people just sitting at home waiting to be offended, and so this is just what the doctor ordered.”

“We are queer,” said Jackson. “This is our P.O.V. But we keep saying this is for truants and delinquents and gay people among those truants and delinquents.”

In addition to twincest and the repeated notion that “God is a faggot,” Dicks also contains a plot point concerning Mullally’s character’s pussy (it is referred to as such throughout), which fell off in Greece and now lives in her purse, just in case. It makes a cameo at a pivotal moment via animation. “I knew we had to see it somehow,” said Charles on the visual gag. “We worked until we figured out where it belonged, so it can save the day in that moment. I always thought of it like the bluebird of happiness to some degree.”

Unsurprisingly, there weren’t many lines that those involved forbade themselves from crossing, though Sharp pointed out that he and Jackson don’t tend to engage in mean humor—they’re more silly than humiliating. Lane, though, said that it became clear early that any implication that his character was involved sexually with the Sewer Boys would not fly. “It wasn’t where I drew the line—is it where [production companies] A24 and Chernin Entertainment drew the line,” said Lane. “There was talk of maybe that they would be played by two gymnasts from Cirque du Soleil. And then they were like, ‘No, we can’t. And he certainly can’t be having any sex with anything that has the word ‘Boys’ in their name.’ So it has to be puppets, preferably puppets that don’t look real in any possible way.”


During their interview, Sharp and Jackson mentioned a few sources of inspiration. Among them were: Christopher Guest’s 1996 mockumentary Waiting for Guffman, John Waters, and the cult Amy Sedaris TV series Strangers With Candy. Dicks shares with that last one the hilarity that comes from characters accidentally stepping into wisdom—after all, Craig and Trevor do learn that all love is love. “It’s very funny to us that they learn the right moral, but they learn it wrong,” said Jackson. “Nobody comes away like, ‘I’m better than I was when I started.’ That’s very Larry Charles, very Seinfeld. None of them grow and become better people. They’re just themselves.”

“People keep talking about what the message is, where the message is sort of like…” says Sharp, flipping his middle finger. “The finger’s up, burn it all down. It’s like, isn’t it funny when you take this ‘all love is love’ message and just take it to the most perverse, wild, absurd, crazy place of all?”

“I remember sometimes even getting notes like, ‘Oh, so the moral of the movie is all love is love,’” reflected Jackson. “And we’re like, ‘No, no, no, no, no. The moral is God is a faggot.’”

This film has an interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA that allows its actors to promote the movie despite the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.

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