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Garfunkel and Oates

Saying What Everyone Else Is Thinking

Aug 06, 2014 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

Seven years since a pair of quickly written songs landed thousands of clicks and an unintended audience on YouTube, prompting them to turn their sweetly foul-mouthed and subversive brand of musical comedy into a genuine live act as Garfunkel and Oates, Riki Lindhome (Garfunkel) and Kate Micucci (Oates) have become the most well-known guitar and ukulele players who have tackled their distaste for smug pregnant women, their ignorance on performing handjobs, and the virginal loophole of anal sex. Following a number of chart-climbing albumstheir most recent 2012’s All Over Your Faceand a recent series of shorts for HBO, Lindhome and Micucci are hoping to follow the cult success of Flight of Conchords with their very own self-titled television program, debuting this week (Thursday at 10 PM) on IFC. Taking a breather from a long weekend of promotion at this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, the duo discussed the difference between themselves and their characters “Riki” and “Kate,” John Oates, and having porn and puppets featured in the same episode.

Mike Hilleary (Under the Radar) Hi there ladies. So where do I have you calling from?

Riki Lindhome: I’m in my apartment in L.A. Are you at home Kate?

Kate Micucci: Yup. I’m in my apartment. We live five minutes away from each other.

You just didn’t want to put the effort into being into the same room huh?

Riki: No. [Laughs] That’s a long five minutes.

Kate: Though we were just at Comic-Con. That’s where we were this past weekend. We were there Friday throughwhen did we get back? It’s all a blur.

Riki: Saturday night.

Did you guys enjoy your time there?

Kate: Yeah it was a lot of fun!

Riki: I always look forward to it. I just have a blast. It’s the only place you see people dancing with abandonas far as I’ve seen. At Comic-Con everyone dances. They do it’s so much fun.

Kate: It’s true. I’m terrible. I’m very, very scared to dance but at Comic-Con I don’t care. We look forward to the dance parties.

I didn’t know Comic-Con was known for that.

Riki: It is in my mind. It’s probably not for other people. For other people it’s probably comic stuff and panels.

Was this your first time there?

Riki: It was our third time there. But this felt a little different because we were promoting the show so it was very exciting.

Well let’s talk about the show. I got to watch a few episodes and I really enjoyed it. Just wanted to say congratulations on it. It definitely fits nicely into my wheelhouse of humor. I think for me the moment I really became a fan is when you depicted your agent as a puppet. When Riki says something like, “Oh just do what I do and imagine him as a puppet.” I immediately thought to myself, “Oh please when they cut to the agent they show a puppet.” And sure enough you did.

Riki: Kate is a big puppet fan. She’s into puppeteering. She actually did show on the show.

Kate: Yeah I was so excited because in the second episode we have we have that puppet video and I actually got to puppeteer. It was likenot to sound cheesya dream come true.

I also appreciated how nicely you managed to poke fun at yourselves when you do that flashback to your audition tapes.

Riki: Yeah we’ve had interesting careers before Garfunkel and Oates.

Were those based on your real-life experiences as actresses?

Riki: It’s just exaggerated versions. Of the actual reels we used to have.

Kate: Riki and I first met when we were doing commercials, so we would always go out for like aliens and elves and things like that cause we have big eyes.

Well how did you guys meet?

Kate: Well we were actually at Doug Benson Interruption at UCB. We were both friends with Doug Benson and we met in the lobby and we kind of hit it off. But we did also see each other at auditions. And then if you want to go way, way back we actually met at music camp when we were 10 and 11 but we don’t really remember that as well.

Riki: Yeah Kate had walked up to me because she was like, “Hey don’t I know you from auditions?” and I was like, “Yeah,” cause we had been seeing each other for like six or seven months.

Kate: And also we were both on kind of bad dates and at least I was looking for an escape. And so running into Riki I was like, “Oh hey I know you.”

Riki: “I know that girl. Anyone but this guy talk to me.”

Well obviously you hit it off really well. What was the impetus for writing music together?

Riki: Well we had both been writing funny songs on our own for a while and I had seen Kate perform live and I thought she was so funny. And I was writing a short and was trying to turn it into a musical and she and I wrote songs for that and it was just so fun and our sensibilities lined up so we just kept going.

What was the short called?

Riki: It was called Imaginary Larry. I just wanted to see if I could write and direct. I wanted to see how it went.

Kate: I remember Riki calling me over. She was like, “Hey can you come over to my house and write some songs?” and I was like, “Okay,” ‘cause we had become friends and gone out to lunch and I was not sure what was going to happen. But we wound up writing two songs in an hour and half. It’s never been that easy since but it was this magically thing that just happened right then and we were excited about it.

Well working on this television show, how long has this been in development? I know you guys had done some shorts with HBO for a little while.

Riki: Yeah so we did the HBO shorts for a little while and thenhow long has it been in development Kate?

Kate: I believe it was 2009 or 2010 that we were with HBO and we were there a couple years. I think it was 2010. So yeah when they said they weren’t going to make our show IFC came and said, “Hey we’ll make it.” So it kind of worked out.

Oh okay, so were you guys trying to get something in terms of a full-episode series with HBO?

Riki: Yeah they gave us a deal to make the web show and write a pilot. And we did both of those things and it was great experience. We learned a ton. But after we wrote the pilot they decided not to move forward with the series. So we just kind of kept going forward but with a different network.

So do the episodes tend to center around a particular song, or does it work the other way around?

Kate: A little of both I would say. Because the show’s TV-14 a lot of our dirtier material we were not able to use. So we have songs where we were like, “How can we incorporate this into a script?”

So what do you find funny? How would you gauge your sense of humor?

Riki: For me it’s all about juxtaposition. For me I find Kate really funny. She says the dirtiest stuff with the most innocent face. That’s the kind of stuff that makes me laugh. In the same episode we have porn stars and puppets. That is what does it for me.

Kate: And try to be truthful about a lot of the things we do. Finding comedy in the truth, it kind of hits a little harder.

Riki: It is fun to say stuff you know you would never say in real life and everyone’s thinking but don’t say.

So what is it about music and comedy that go so well together?

Kate: I feel like comedy is all a rhythm. A stand-up comedian is doing music in my mind. There’s beats and there’s timing. It’s sort of the same thing. So I think when you can meld that into a song it’s nice. I do think they’re one in the same. We’re just putting some chords over top of a set in some way.

One of the interesting things with music is that everyone wants to hear the hits when you play a live, whereas in comedy everyone wants to hear new material.

Riki: You could not have said that better. That is our eternal struggle. No one has ever actually pointed that out before with us. We never know what to do on the road because we want to find that perfect balance of giving people the songs they love and giving people new things to laugh at. We’re always juggling with it. It’s so funny. Most comedians just want new stuff ‘cause they get new laughs, where with us we’re like, “Okay we can’t have too much new stuff.”

Kate: People will say, “Hey how come you didn’t play thing one. I was really hoping you’d play it.” And you’re like, “Shoot.”

Riki: You want to give people a good time and give them a good show. And comedy tickets are expensive. They really are.

At the same time you have the best of both worlds.

Riki and Kate: Yeah!

What I also really appreciate is that you provide one of the few, if not only, female perspectives in musical comedy.

Riki: We do use that to our advantage as much as possible. Sometimes we’ll ask ourselves, “Okay, what can only women say?” There’s a lot of stuff men can say, but there are some things that can only come out of a women’s mouth.

Kate: Yeah, even going back to one of our earlier songs like “Pregnant Women Are Smug,” a guy couldn’t write that song.

No. Not at all. So I know we were scheduled to speak a few days ago but scheduling got in the way. Then I saw on your Instagram you were in a recording studio. What were you guys recording?

Kate: We’re still working on finishing up our next album. We’re trying to get that all done. I don’t know when it will come out. That’s the thing.

Riki: Yeah we were supposed to finish last summer but then the show got picked up and we got a little busy. [Laughs] We were on a slight year-long detour. Now we’re trying out best to finish it up.

So what is your songwriting process like?

Kate: With songs we often find a topic we want to write about and we’ll just brainstorm on it for days and days

Riki: Sometimes months.

Kate: Yeah sometimes months and we’ll just make a giant document. It might be like 20 pages long with everything we can think about on this topic. And then we kind chip away at that, and then I’ll go and usually do a bit of the melody and Riki will go off and do some of the lyrics and we’ll meet together and it gets all mish-moshy from there. Over the past couple years we’ve figured out it works best to brainstorm and go our separate ways and come back together.

Well it must be nice since like you said you live five minutes away from each other. Is there a designated writing location, like someone always hosting the other or does it switch off?

Riki: I think it depends on the weather. If it’s nice out Kate will come to my house. I have a really nice roof that’s kind of inspiring to write on. And if it’s at night or not as nice weather I go to Kate’s house.

Kate: Yeah I don’t have a nice roof. That’s not true. I actually have a great roof but it’s a lot more complicated to get to. You gotta jump out a window and climb up a scary… It’s a little different.

When you first started this project, was it difficult understanding early on what it was and what it could potentially be?

Riki: No. We had no idea. A lot of it has been operating from feedback. At first we put up two YouTube videos and we were surprised when people watched them. Like, “Oh maybe we should make some more.” And after we made some more people were still watching, so then we thought, “Maybe we should play a show.” And we liked that and we kept going.

Kate: In the beginning it really was like, “Oh, that works. Let’s try this, let’s try that.” Riki had put those first two videos up because she had wanted to show her family the songs we wrote and then other people found them. Truthfully if it wasn’t for YouTube I don’t know if any of this would have happened.

So I almost forgot to ask this earlier in the conversation, but is it true [Hall & Oates’ John] Oates makes a guest appearance in the series?

Kate: Yeah he’s in the second episode. He’s the guy that works at the porn store.

How did you get him involved?

Kate: We just asked him! It was like, “Hey, do you want to play this character who works at a porn store?” We were pretty nervous to ask him but he was totally game. He was so great. And we’ve been friends ‘cause back in the MySpace days he found us on MySpace and wrote to us. We ended up opening for him when he did a solo show out here in L.A. He’s been so supportive of us.

Jumping off the topic of musical legends, who do you look to in terms of your musical influences?

Kate: Well Riki and I both have a great love of Broadway and musicals as well as pop radio. It’s odd to say but pop and Broadway are our two musical inspirations, and you know and sometimes Kesha.

So how much of “Riki” and “Kate” are based on your real-life personas?

Riki: I think it’s half and half. It’s based on our lives, like we use our lives as a jumping off point and then take as much creative license as we want from there. We don’t feel beholden to make it all truthful, but it’s also not out of nowhere.

Kate: They’re definitely exaggerated versions in many places. I remember having a conversation before we stared shooting like, “How do we act like ourselves?”

So do you remember the first time you went live onstage as Garfunkel and Oates?

Riki: Yeah, it was three in the morning on the Tomorrow Show.

Kate: I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it but the Tomorrow Show is a show that starts at midnight on a Saturday night, and we the last to go up, so it was so late. We were just so tired we just giggled the entire time. I friend of mine was in the audience and she was like, “It was really good but I think maybe you want to laugh less.”

So with all that’s been going on now, what are you finding to be the biggest challenge?

Kate: I think the biggest challenge writing new material and new songs. That’s been our biggest struggle because for the past year and half we’ve been writing scripts and working on the show. Now that we’re done with this first season now we have to go back and try to write new songs.

With all the different mediums Garfunkel and Oates is able to tap intowhether it’s a live performance, an album, now a TV showwhat do you find the most satisfying in your work?

Kate: Well for me when we play live shows we’ll have people come up to us tell us stories of how a song helped them or made a difference to them. Those moments are always the most meaningful. Knowing we made something that meant something to a person that’s my favorite thing.

Riki: Yeah do you remember when we met that couple that used “As You Are” as their wedding song.

Kate: Yeah that kind of stuff. You’re just like, “What? That’s crazy.”

[Garfunkel and Oates airs on IFC on Thursdays at 10 PM.]


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Doctor Buttstuff
March 28th 2018

Love Garfunkle and Oates. Favorite song is “The Loophole”