How the Ludicrously Humorous Songs in ‘Dicks: The Musical’ Have been Written

The creators of A24’s absurd new romp Dicks: The Musical confronted an especially particular problem when crafting the film: How would they flip a 30-minute stage present about long-lost grownup twins who reunite their estranged mother and father and fall head over heels in love right into a 90-minute movie {that a} Hollywood studio would comply with launch?

Primarily based on a Mother or father Entice riff that Aaron Jackson and Josh Sharp mounted on the Upright Residents Brigade Theatre in New York, Dicks—unique title: Fucking Equivalent Twins—was arrange at twentieth Century Fox in 2016 by a producer who had a improvement deal there. Even earlier than Disney purchased the corporate, why anybody inside Fox mentioned sure to a bawdy musical about twincest stays a thriller. When Jackson and Sharp finally despatched the studio their script, they bought a kill charge and a swift “by no means thoughts.”

In 2020, A24, a way more Dicks-y distributor, gave the film a brand new residence. Comedy veteran Larry Charles, finest identified for his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Borat, got here aboard as director, and now the world has been gifted a spectacle that options Bowen Yang taking part in a glittery, homosexual God, Megan Thee Stallion rapping about dismantling the patriarchy, and a bunch of hilariously ludicrous songs. Jackson and Sharp play Trevor and Craig, blustering salesmen who meet at work, rapidly uncover that their kooky mother and father (Megan Mullally and Nathan Lane) separated them at delivery, and swap identities in a ploy to rekindle the nuclear household they by no means had. As soon as they cease bragging about banging chicks and climbing company ladders, Trevor and Craig understand they form of have a factor for one another. Love is love, proper? Extra on that later.

Jackson and Sharp’s UCB present contained a rapid-fire plot and a handful of songs, written with the assistance of musician Karl Saint Lucy. The film’s lead producer, Kori Adelson, linked the trio to Marius de Vries, an completed English composer whose credit embody Moulin Rouge!, La La Land, and Madonna’s Ray of Gentle. They spent three days holed up in a Brooklyn recording studio, embellishing the play’s current songs and laying down the bones for added tracks.

“One thing occurred on the finish of that session which I’ve by no means seen in my whole profession,” de Vries tells The Ringer. “We despatched all of the music to the director, and he accepted all of it immediately. Usually, you’d get 26 pages of notes about what wants to alter.”

Right here’s the story behind Dicks, tune by tune. Spoilers observe.

“I’ll All the time Be on High”

Regardless of its wall-to-wall absurdism, Dicks borrows the story beats of a typical musical, beginning with a peppy quantity that introduces the protagonists utilizing simply digestible traits. On this case, Trevor and Craig are virulently—one may say performatively—straight windbags with two priorities: getting laid and competing to be the no. 1 peddler of vacuum alternative elements at a company referred to as Vroomba.

“The identical method that drag queens are doing femininity however not in a method that’s essentially alleged to be plausible, we’re doing straight-man drag,” Jackson says. “What do males brag about? How typically they fuck, how wealthy they’re, how huge their dicks are. We’re not attempting to believably play a straight man. It’s like, ‘That is what you seem like to us.’”

Within the stage present’s opener, “Solely in It for Me,” Trevor and Craig gloat about themselves for 2 verses after which understand they’re twins. Underneath the steering of Saint Lucy and de Vries, Dicks extends that meet-cute, extra totally establishing Trevor and Craig as cartoonish alphas who’ve extra in widespread with faculty bros than with New York’s enterprise elite. Taking the type of a prolonged suite, together with an overture narrated by God, “I’ll All the time Be on High” has horns, a bass line that will make anybody need to strut round, and an power that Jackson and Sharp describe as “groin-y.”

“From the get-go, our ambition was to be as wild and transgressive and confrontational as potential within the affect that this story had, however for that to not simply flip right into a juvenile insult,” de Vries says. “We needed to be very thorough with the structure of the piece, each by way of the storytelling types—musical theater and cinema—but additionally by way of the content material of the songs musically. I feel we needed to work even more durable than regular to make them as strong and bonafide as potential to assist the entire mayhem.”

“No One Understands”

Naturally, Trevor’s and Craig’s braggadocio hides their profound unhappiness, completely captured with what musical theater practitioners name an “I need” tune—a first-act quantity that establishes emotional stakes. (Well-known examples are “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz and “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from My Truthful Girl.) “No One Understands” begins fairly rapidly after “I’ll All the time Be on High” ends, a structural tip that Jackson and Sharp bought from Tony nominee Douglas Carter Beane, who gave notes on the script.

“For these guys who’ve every part, the one factor they don’t have is their full pathos,” Sharp says. “The overwhelming weight of getting a single mother or father is, to them, the largest loss they are often given by God. And musically, you may make it a lot extra melodramatic.”

The tune ratchets up Trevor’s and Craig’s woe-is-me narcissism to the purpose of ridiculousness. “Nobody understands what I’ve been by / Nobody is aware of what it’s prefer to be a person with my particular life saying these particular phrases,” they croon earlier than connecting the dots about their forsaken childhoods. The actors sang dwell on set, and if their vocals are ever imperfect, that’s a part of the expertise. Charles needed the movie to feel and look a bit lo-fi.

“Evelyn Music” and “Homosexual Outdated Life”

Right here’s the place issues go berserk. After Trevor and Craig hatch their scheme of familial reconciliation, Dicks introduces us to the eccentrics who birthed these two dumbbells. Jackson and Sharp additionally portrayed the mother and father onstage, however after Mullally and Lane have been forged, the characters took on a brand new life.

Mullally’s Evelyn is a colourful shut-in who claims to be 93 or 94 (she will’t keep in mind which). To get a way of what Sharp calls her “Dadaist, absurdist thoughts,” the writers composed a twinkling patter tune whereby Evelyn particulars her inglorious “twilight years,” filled with catheters, a indifferent vagina, and the numerous tchotchkes she assigns names to. When Mullally confirmed up for the primary rehearsals, Jackson and Sharp realized she had determined to offer Evelyn a thick, hilarious lisp. De Vries puzzled whether or not it’d make the lyrics indecipherable, however Mullally—a Broadway veteran whose breakthrough function was in How you can Achieve Enterprise With out Actually Attempting—had the diction right down to a T.

“These straight buffoons need the right mother and father, so they need to meet the mother first, and she or he’s absolutely fucking loopy,” Sharp says of how he and Jackson envisioned the sequence. “And then you definately need to meet the dad and nearly be like, ‘He’s regular, proper?’”

Unsuitable. Lane’s Harris does look like the “regular” one at first, a wannabe socialite who proclaims he’s queer. “Homosexual Outdated Life” is a lounge tune, with Harris enumerating his upper-crust homosexual traditions (brunch, the symphony). Then, he reveals one thing far juicier: He’s harboring two Gremlins-esque creatures in a cage. “My sewer boys,” he proclaims, unveiling the wrinkly goblins as blood-guzzling inbreds keen on chewed-up deli ham that Harris spits into their mouths. “We have been taking part in with this joke of, ‘This man doesn’t perceive homosexual tradition,’” Sharp says. “Each verse, he’d simply say totally different loopy shit.”


The sewer boys have been talked about within the stage present however by no means seen, leaving limitless potentialities for the puppets that almost steal Dicks. Including a little bit of status to the combination, the grotesque dolls have been operated by the Bob Baker Marionette Theater, a Los Angeles–based mostly nonprofit with illustrious display screen credit like Star Trek and Shut Encounters of the Third Variety.


The movie’s most earnest tune, “Lonely,” is the catalyst by which Evelyn and Harris agree to satisfy for dinner on the romantic La Chateau. (Saint Lucy cameos because the restaurant’s pianist.) Jackson and Sharp initially thought the duet could be a one-dimensional gag the place the characters repeat the phrase “I’m lonely” again and again, however Charles instructed them it wanted to be a showstopper. The gambit works provided that the viewers cares in regards to the pair’s reunion. They’re wacky, sure, however they’re additionally genuinely lonesome.

“Mainly, the task was, ‘Right here’s a web page with the phrase lonely about 28 instances, and we have to make it an R&B quantity,” Saint Lucy recollects. The ensuing serenade provides Mullally and Lane an excuse to belt their souls out as the primary act ends.

“The genius within the lyrics is the comedian repetition inside them,” de Vries says. “What number of instances are you able to repeat one phrase earlier than it stops to imply what it used to imply? The mission of the tune was simply to assemble it so it was as honest as potential.”

As a result of films can submit solely three tracks apiece for the Oscars’ Greatest Authentic Music class, A24 should slim down which of them are in competition—and, per Oscar bylaws, they will’t be something from the stage present. Jackson and Sharp suspect “Lonely” will likely be among the many three picks, as will the subsequent tune, carried out by a grande dame of rap.

“Out Alpha the Alpha”

Gloria Masters, Trevor and Craig’s bullish boss at Vroomba, didn’t exist onstage. Her solo within the film, wherein she tongue lashes the corporate’s males in the course of the workplace, was initially designed as a cabaret quantity. Then Megan Thee Stallion bought forged.

Saint Lucy and de Vries threw out every part however a few melodic motifs. Alongside Jackson and Sharp, they then wrote totally new lyrics to suit the “Savage” rapper. “It was unlocked the day we realized it must be an early ’90s hip-hop vibe,” says Sharp, citing LL Cool J, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and the duo Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf as inspiration. “It feels very enjoyable and uplifting. It’s bought this shuffle to it.”


To match Megan, the quartet added swagger to the lyrics (“My tuna is ahi / My beef is Wagyu”). Gloria is, in any case, the CEO, content material to place needy males on literal leashes. Narratively, “Out Alpha the Alpha” acts like an intermission, full with a Busby Berkeley–lite dance sequence.

“Additionally, it’s one of many uncommon moments within the movie the place we do commentary,” Sharp says. “That is kind of telling you ways we really feel about these guys we’re taking part in. We thought, ‘If we try this, it nonetheless must be blown out.’ She must deal with them like scummy sacks of cum, and it exists in a world the place we homicide each man. However although she will get a bit little bit of an ethical compass second, she nonetheless must be a full capitalist pig who’s psycho. We are able to’t let her be the one good man.”

“The Sewer Music”

After Evelyn and Harris renew their ardour (and wreck La Chateau with their horniness) within the rowdy “Determined for Your Love,” they determine they gained’t transfer in collectively—crushing information to Trevor and Craig, who insist their mother and father ought to marry in order that the 4 of them can lastly dwell underneath one roof. Evelyn and Harris shake the fellows out of their funk, and the household finds itself embroiled in a distinct campaign: saving the sewer boys, who’ve escaped and returned to their underground lair.

“The Sewer Music” is 2 issues. On a technical degree, it’s a quodlibet that unites melodies heard in earlier songs for one hovering crowd-pleaser. And in a extra colloquial sense, Sharp and Jackson name it their “journey tune.” Trevor, Craig, Evelyn, and Harris sprint by the bowels of a New York sewer, within the course of piecing collectively broad life classes and deciding what to do about these small monsters who clearly additionally need to rejoin their mother and father.

De Vries instructed elongating “The Sewer Music,” however a part of what retains Dicks from overstaying its welcome is that the majority of its songs final just a few minutes. By the top, it appears like a celebration. Appears like one, too: Charles, grasp of anarchic comedy, determined the viewers ought to really feel like they’re underground with the actors. We see the puppet strings holding the sewer boys, and at one level Sharp briefly breaks character.

“The Sewer Music” can also be the one monitor with out a button, the closing downbeat that elicits applause. As an alternative, the film instantly lurches ahead, and earlier than we all know it, Trevor and Craig are professing their love for one another and having acrobatic intercourse.

“All Love Is Love”

On this planet of Dicks: The Musical, God officiates homosexual twin weddings whereas sporting metallic scorching pants and declares, “I’m placing this one within the Bible!” Welcome to the New New Testomony.


Satirizing the inclusive platitude that provides the tune its identify, “All Love Is Love” is a pastiche of up to date Christian anthems. Saint Lucy likens it to a “raucous” model of “Day by Day,” the signature hit from Godspell. At UCB, Jackson and Sharp would invite viewers members to repeat the chorus—“God is a faggot, and all love is love”—after which jokingly name them bigots. Within the film, the tune’s remaining minutes are an explosion of pleasure, replete with a choir and a well-timed callback to Evelyn’s pitiful vagina. Like all of the gags within the film, it really works solely as a result of the music is so a lot better than it must be for one thing so decadently weird.

“The best way that the humor and the music work together has bought this screwball-y, Nineteen Thirties, Fred-and-Ginger really feel to it,” de Vries says. “Everybody thinks these have been very genteel comedies, and in some respects they have been. However that embrace of vaudeville, screwball, and slapstick is a reasonably constant thread all through the movie. In a bizarre form of method, it provides the movie a period-adjacent innocence that’s very at odds with how noisy and rambunctious and blasphemous it’s.”

Matthew Jacobs is an Austin-based leisure journalist who covers movie and tv. His work may be discovered at Vulture, Vainness Truthful, The Hollywood Reporter, HuffPost, and past. Comply with him on Twitter @majacobs.

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