Dicks: The Musical
I saw Dicks: The Musical at the Angelika last night. It felt like a really big deal! Here we have A24's first musical written by and starring two unknowns, featuring Nathan Lane, Megan Mullally and Megan Thee Stallion. Larry Charles directed this! The "unknowns" are Josh Sharp and Aaron Jackson. They spent their 20s training and performing at the UCB Theater in New York. They made a huge, beautiful, gross, insane, hilarious movie adapted from their UCB show Fucking Identical Twins. Josh and Aaron achieved all of this while keeping their style and sense of humor in tact, but mega-amplified. I sat there watching, going "there they are!" It was the first time in years I could hear and be a part of a unifying, genuine movie theater laugh. It was thrilling.
I was on improv teams at UCB with both Aaron and Josh. I remember them both as such joys to watch and play with. They have a kind of talent that would leave me starstruck even if the context was a low-rung-on-the-ladder weekly practice space. Besides the quick wit, imagination and charisma they could execute on command, they both possess a difference-making cool and a contagious confidence. They elevate everything they're involved in.
I remember the kind of cool Josh and Aaron wielded. Meanwhile I was entering a dark period of curmudgeonly anxiety, over-protecting my meaningless scrap of validation in the insular improv theater world. As our paths diverged, performers like Josh and Aaron could dependably give me hope and mystify me. They just got better all the time, and nothing ever seemed to shake their cool. I'm painting a rosy portrait from a distance. None of it was easy. But while I gave into acting like it was hard, they got great at acting like it wasn't. Self fulfilling prophecies. They really dug in the trenches of persistent, effortful craftsmanship while exuding an enjoying the ride, above-it air. It always feels good to watch them shine.
To understand the foundational aspects of Dicks: The Musical is to see an against-all-odds type of victory: Nobody makes comedy like this for the big screen anymore. Two unknown writer/stars adapting a 30 minute UCB sketch show about gay incest. Legends in the cast. The raunchiest gay spectacle since, what? Give me a good reference to drop here.
But when I remember Josh and Aaron as cool, confident, prolific, kind and wildly talented for all this time, it makes an unlikely underdog victory feel inevitable.