In today’s entertainment world where so many things are being poorly recreated and legends that could never be replaced (Joan Rivers, Robin Williams) have left us, it is hard to find anything humor wise that is original and done in a way that really makes you think beyond giggle a few. That is where Dick & Duane come in. A couple of years ago I was on my Twitter account (@musicblogger61. Follow or you are dead to me) and someone I followed retweeted something from Dick & Duane. I checked out their account and found a lot of what they said to be incredibly funny, unique and witty all at the same time. I then discovered their Facebook page and the hilarity continued to ensue, as well as the 8 inches in my pants from the photos they posted (That’s right folks! 8 inches. Leave me your phone numbers). The way they blended so many different forms of comedy really was quite fascinating and I knew I had to learn more about them.
A couple of days ago I sat down with Dick & Duane, who’s real names are Richie Cohen and Duane Tragis, to discuss so many facets of their lives from their 30 plus year relationship, who inspired them, their take on the top gay comics in the world right now and what they think about the very NSFW videos that they make, tee hee. Take a look!
Hey Dick & Duane! Thanks for taking time to sit with me! So this first question is super important- when it comes to Mexican Cuisine, are you more Chipotle or Moe’s?
Richie: Hmm, you assume we like Mexican food! We do, but I actually think I prefer Mexican dick even more. However, you hit upon a topic that is important to us: the newfound prevalence of national mall chains in a city that had, until the Bloomberg years, managed to keep them out. NYC was always known for having some of the greatest food at mom and pop restaurants that had uniqueness and charm as some of their main ingredients. But due to hyper-gentrification and greedy landlords, many, if not most, of our beloved mom and pops have been forced out. The only businesses who can afford these insane new rents are corporate franchises. And we really hate them. So, our answer is: neither! But Duane, what are some of our favorite Mexican places that are still here?
Duane: There are some good taquerias left, like El Rancho Burrito on 45th St. It looks like a dump but the food is really good and fresh and cheap. We also like Taqueria Diana on 2nd Ave and Tres Carnes on 6th Ave. The staff are always so friendly and know our orders without us having to say a word.
Both of you have been together for quite some time! Tell me how both of you met.
Richie: We were 18 and 19-year-old virgins when we met at Rutgers. We were each other’s first boyfriend. It was love at first sight for me, but Duane took a little convincing. We moved in together, exchanged rings from a gum ball machine a few months later and declared ourselves married.
Duane: But I think we’re tired of telling that sappy story. Can’t we change it to something juicier? Say that we met at Paddles (S&M sex club) a few months ago when I was fucking him in a sling.
Richie: Oh, I like that better. And when you shot your load, that’s when we declared ourselves joined as one. It’s still kind of sweet and sentimental.
In a world where gay relationships last shorter than my orgasm at the Eagle on Saturday nights, can you tell me what the secret is for your longevity?
Richie: I think it’s a combination of silly humor, deep friendship, trust, brutal honesty, biting sarcasm, true love, and hate of little things that annoy us. I always give Duane a DZS, which stands for Dorothy Zbornak Stare, a phrase I coined, which made it into urban dictionary (http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=DZS). It’s really a look of love. Plus, we’re still very much attracted to each other, even after 33 years. The sex is still good. Especially when we get a hung Latino or black top to join in.
Duane: I have to disagree with you on gay relationships, Ryan. I think relationships are lasting longer these days and more men are coupled and tripled. But I’ll take that back if you’re one of those guys whose orgasm just keeps coming and coming and, well…that I’ve got to see.
You call yourselves the “Porn Comedy Duo”. Explain the meaning behind that.
Richie: We actually call ourselves a husband & husband comedy team, but some of the videos we’ve made, which have found a home on Vimeo (http://www.vimeo.com/funwithdickandduane), are what we call porn comedy or comedy porn. They’re funny, but sexy. You know, we’ve gotten great feedback from guys who said that they’d never actually seen hot porn that was genuinely, intentionally funny, or comedy that they could jerk off to. We really love hearing that. It’s exactly what we were going for.
Duane: As far as why we make videos like that, well, it’s as simple as this: we find sex funny.
Is your comedy very character based, visually driven, or something else? What really drives the humor that has attracted thousands of gay and straight people to your act?
Duane: Yeah, definitely character based. But I think we also have 33 years of developing good comedic timing on our side. Take a good classic sitcom like I Love Lucy in its final seasons where the actors know each other so well that the timing of everything they do is organically natural and perfect. I feel like we have that kind of chemistry and timing. How’s that for a comparison?
You have many salacious videos that you guys post on your page that get very tongue in cheek (legit sometimes). They are so crafty and innovative, how do you come up with the ideas for each?
Richie: Thank you, Ryan. Well, we get ideas, whether it’s for live standup comedy routines or for videos, sort of spontaneously. It’s been that way from the start. Except for when we’re arguing, or maybe even then, most of what we say to each other throughout the day is funny. I wouldn’t say that we’re always “on,” because that can be obnoxious, but we do see humor in everything and we do imitations or characters or funny dialogue all the time. From that, we will pull something to expand and share with the public. For example, our signature skit, which we’ve since retired, is acting out the lyrics to Laura Branigan’s songs “Gloria.” (http://youtu.be/sUj7Nfy_ZRA) That sketch was the result of us spontaneously acting out those lyrics while making out in Duane’s car in the summer of 1982, when that song was constantly on the radio. Years later, we expanded it by adding other 80s song references and another campy Branigan song, “Self Control.”
We have a new character, Little Blond Fag, which we do on Vine (https://vine.co/apemonkey). That one resulted from my saying, “I love getting blown by a little blond fag” after Duane had just done that to me. We thought it was funny, so we’ve done a series of 6-second Vines where Duane makes me call him “Little Blond Fag” over and over while he plays with himself. For our two short films where we satirize the Old Reliable gay porn from the 70s (http://vimeo.com/77398314 andhttp://vimeo.com/83544053) — and we have a new one in the works to complete the trilogy — it was completely spontaneous and improvised, including my trademark giggle at the end when I realize it’s obvious that Duane is faking his orgasm. The video which has resulted in Duane’s catchphrase “Knowledge and Smarts” (http://vimeo.com/76327901) was completely improvised by Duane. I had no idea where he was going with it but I grabbed the phone and started filming because I knew it was good. Our popular live sketch where I teach Duane how to do standup comedy (http://youtu.be/p6Q-SUx1cOQ) came about because we got fed up with having to share the stage with bad standup comics who all seemed to have taken the same class. And our comedy porn short film The Low Hole (http://vimeo.com/84632411) came about because no top can ever find my…low hole. When I’m bottoming, I spend most of the time saying, “Lower! Lower! LOWER!” so we decided it would make a funny video.
What story going on in the media right now is an easy target for Dick & Duane to make fun of?
Richie: We don’t usually target current media stories for our comedy. Our stuff is more timeless, or does that sound pretentious? Or does that mean our material is dated? Uh oh.
Duane: But, you know, we recently appeared on Comedy Nation with John Fugelsang, which is a political show, and the topic was Obama: The Good, the Bad and the Funny. We did the “Bad” and criticized his performance in his first 6 years, everything from attacks on press freedom and whistleblowers to targeted drone strikes and kill lists.
In today’s culture a lot of gay comedians feel like they need to go to extremes in order to get mainstream audiences to like them (See: Ross Matthews). Or we rely on females to do all the gay jokes for us (See: Kathy Griffin). What is your take on that, and has your approach been the same for years when it comes to your type of humor?
Richie: We’re not familiar with Matthews because we don’t watch current TV, and we think Griffin is a hack who exploits “her gays.” As far as Dick and Duane, we have always done what we think is funny, and a lot of it just happens to be gay because that’s who we are. But we don’t do anything stereotypical or homophobic, which many gay comics tend to do, whether it’s intentional or not.
Duane: I’m not sure what you mean by gay comedians going to extremes, but I think quite a few gay comedians will rely on played-out stereotypes, like the effeminate male, for the laugh.
Richie: When we were doing the TV show Up All Night in the 90s, we were once asked to play a couple of effeminate gay guys who want to get makeovers. The “punchline” was the fact that we were gay. We insisted on rewriting it as two masculine gay soldiers who are forced to get makeovers when they lose at arm wrestling with Rhonda Shear (http://youtu.be/8SHsXMmUPDU). We were just starting out, but it was very important that we stick to our principles and never sell out.
Growing up for both of you who inspired you in the comedy circuit?
Richie: Growing up, for both of us, it was classic sitcoms. And it still is, because every day, we watch our favorite episodes over and over, and never get tired of it. It’s like taking a master class in comedy, and they’ve been a huge influence on our writing and timing. The ones we watch most often and quote from are I Love Lucy, Mary Tyler Moore, and Mary Hartman. Oh, and The Comeback.
Duane: Carol Burnett, Phyllis Diller, Abbott and Costello, Smothers Brothers, Lucille Ball, Marx Brothers, Jack Benny, Sonny and Cher, Andy Kaufman. I could go on and on. Some of these comedians were before our time but we had the advantage of quality reruns on television when we were growing up so we got exposed to a lot of good entertainment. In the 80’s, standup comedy was all over cable TV and there were lots of smart comedians with great acts. In my opinion, much better than what we see now.
What advice can you give to up and coming comedians on how to develop yourself socially and in the real world as well?
Richie: Be yourself. Don’t bullshit. Don’t try to be funny. Don’t steal from other comics. Get your face out of your smartphone and interact with people.
Duane: My advice would be to do your own thing. But those coming up were raised with social media technology, which is all about shared experiences. That, in turn, makes people want to do the same thing that everyone else is doing to feel like they fit in. If you look at, say, Vine comedy, everyone is doing the same “comedy thing” over and over again. Someone had to think of it first, though, so in that case, my advice is to be the creator, not the follower.
What is next for the D&D brand?
Richie: Our web series, which is tentatively titled I Love the Ape. Watch our Facebook page for updates…
Duane: We’re also debuting our first fragrance, which will smell like a combination of our post-gym armpits, post-fuck holes and dicks, and cheeseburgers.
Anything else you want to add to this interview?
Richie: People often ask us why we call each other Ape and Monkey. My father nicknamed me “Monkey” when I was 2 years old because he said I looked like one. I gave Duane the name “Ape” about ten years ago, when he started to become very hairy all over. Plus, his arms are long like an ape, and he kind of thinks like an ape, too. Yeah, he’s definitely a simian.
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