Randy (left) and Jason Sklar Credit: Courtesy Katie Hovland PR

The last time the Sklar Brothers performed stand-up on New Year’s Eve was more than a decade ago in Sacramento, according to Randy Sklar. Known for their quick banter as seen on cult TV show Cheap Seats on ESPN Classic, and as co-hosts of the podcast Dumb People Town, the twin brothers who perform together on stage have since been offered more New Year’s Eve gigs. The timing never felt right—until now. 

“We thought this could be a way to turn the page,” Randy says. “We’re hoping that we spring into this New Year, being able to gather with groups of people and do comedy in front of audiences.” 

The Sklar Brothers will pull double duty on New Year’s Eve, performing two shows that night at the Comedy Shrine in Aurora. 

The New Year’s Eve shows will kick off a string of dates for the Sklars, who spent the pandemic pivoting to Zoom shows, creating content for their Patreon channel, and podcasting. As great as the virtual comedic landscape is, Randy says, those types of shows don’t match the energy of a live room. 

YouTube video
The Sklar Brothers performing in Madison for their 2014 special What Are We Talking About?

The Reader spoke with the Sklars ahead of their Aurora shows, discussing their process and a few big sports questions. Answers have been edited for brevity and clarity. 

Matthew Sigur: How have you two been handling creating comedy during the pandemic?

Jason Sklar: The pandemic is the enemy of comedy. What does a comedian need more than anything in the world? A live audience! Of course, when the whole world is under the threat of disease; it’s a little testy. It’s a hard time to find things funny. As comedians, we were like, “OK, we gotta pivot.” We did some live Zoom shows of our podcast, Dumb People Town, with our co-host Dan Van Kirk. Those went to people all over the world—in Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand—who would tune in to these live events. 

When we look back over time, we’ll say, “What a unique opportunity that was to bring people together.” Those moments saved our lives, emotionally and financially. Out of difficult situations often comes innovation and exciting, new versions of what you do. We survived, and we’re coming back on the road now. Seeing people again has been special.  

Was there a time when you two didn’t do comedy together? 

Randy Sklar: It’s been us together from the get-go. The crazy thing is we never even had a discussion about it. We both loved comedy so much when we were kids. We were like, “Yeah, we wanna do stand-up.” That was the end of the discussion. It wasn’t like, “Well, should I go up and then you?” No one asked those questions. It was like, “Yeah, we’ll just go on stage together.” 

The truth is: there were no twins doing it. It was more like, “We love David Letterman, Richard Lewis, early Ellen DeGeneres, Seinfeld, and Eddie Murphy’s Delirious.” That was what we loved, and we were like, “Let’s just do that.” Our version of that was for both of us to be on stage. It’s taken us years to further develop what that voice was because there was no pathway. Maybe that’s a good thing because you have to develop in an original way because you’re not trying to model it on anybody else. 

Do you write material together or apart? What’s that process like for you two?

Jason: Someone comes to the table with a nugget, thought, or experience from his life. An example would be Randy getting incredibly disrespected by his teenage daughters. It was still kind of hurting him, I could tell. With a little bit of distance and comedic lens put on it, we started to talk about how it doesn’t matter who you are as a parent, if you’re a dad with teenage daughters, they’ll just troll you all day long. 

The musical equivalent of this process is someone has a melody and they don’t know what to do with it. Or they’ll say, “I got one line for a song.” Then, someone is noodling around on the bass guitar, and they’re like, “I have this thing. What about this?” The longer bits play a little bit like music. Our creative process is not unlike being a band. 

We try to find the common ground that can bring everybody together and create comedy that everyone can like, no matter what you believe in. When we do hit those moments that a full group of people who maybe believe different things are laughing at the same things, there’s a moment where we’re like, “Hey, look what we’re doing right now! We’re all on the same page! We can do this!” That weirdly feels good onstage. 

How do you feel about comedians having that direct line to fans through avenues like podcasts and Patreons? Is it sustainable? 

Jason: It is sustainable. For the longest time, we had to wait for gatekeepers to say, “Yes, you’re allowed to do your material.” It wasn’t like we weren’t out there not creating new material. That’s what you do when you go up and do stand-up: You try out different things all the time. But not everyone gets the opportunities or has been given the opportunities to do a Netflix, Amazon, or HBO special. For the longest time, people who didn’t get an opportunity were just creating material that only people would be able to come see live. 

What’s exciting is that you can release material on your own channels. You can develop an Instagram following and monetize it. You can release a special on a Patreon. You can create, find outlets and get your material to people. That’s why we’re doing this. Sometimes, it works out. Sometimes, it doesn’t. 

We’ve been very fortunate in our career. I feel so lucky. We are blessed. I don’t know if I believe in God, but I know we’ve been blessed. We’ve worked super-hard, and we managed to make a career out of this amazing business. If a new avenue opens up, or we have to pivot like we did during the pandemic, hey, that’s what you’ve gotta do.  

What is the best way to ring in the New Year, this year? 

Randy: We say, “You turn the page.” Jason and I have not done stand-up on New Year’s Eve in 10 to 15 years. This year, we both said it felt right, that maybe this is a page-turner. We’re hoping that we spring into this New Year, being able to gather with groups of people and do comedy in front of audiences. 

Building back up that muscle of going out on the road and doing an hour of stand-up, it’s really important to us. Virtual shows were fun and great, but it does not match the energy of being in a room full of people laughing. We’re hoping this show will be a jumping off point to say, “Let’s jump into the New Year.” 

Does Kyrie Irving play a single game this season? 

Jason: No. 

With the intersection of sports and comedy, I have to imagine someone has come up to you and yelled, “TWINS!,” right?

Randy: Yes, from the Coors Light commercials. They’re like, “…and TWINS!,” and we’re like, “No, we’re not the twins you want to see.” 

Who wins the Super Bowl?

Randy: Now more than ever, I think it’s gonna be Tampa Bay versus New England. Belichick versus Brady. That would be the craziest Super Bowl ever, and I actually think Belichick wins in an ultimate show of system over guy. 

With the intersection of indie rock and comedy, I have to imagine that someone has come up to and yelled, “Are you guys fans of the National, because TWINS!,” right?

Jason: No one has said that, but I am a fan of the National. 

Does Michigan win the college football championship?

Jason: We win it all this year. This is a team of destiny. 

Who’s better—Markieff or Marcus Morris? They’re…TWINS!

Randy: I think Marcus Morris. That’s what I wanna say, but I could be wrong. 

New Year’s Eve Celebration with the Sklar Brothers, Fri 12/31, 8 and 10 PM, the Comedy Shrine, 2228 Fox Valley Center Dr., Aurora, $40-$50, all-ages