Interview: Kate Micucci, Co-star of “Don’t Think Twice” | Under The Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Kate Micucci, Co-star of “Don’t Think Twice”

The Garfunkel and Oates-er Discusses Her Latest Movie

Jul 21, 2016 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


In Don’t Think Twice, Kate Micucci plays Allison, a member of the tightly-knit improv group The Commune, whose performance space is unexpectedly shut down when their landlord gives them the boot. As her best friends and longtime collaborators splinter and go their separate ways, her character turns back to a cartooning career she let fall by the wayside many years earlier.

Micucci is a cartoonist herself, which was something that excited the film’s director, Mike Birbiglia. (Birbiglia directed the wonderful Sleepwalk With Me, and is even better known as a comedian.) The filmmaker incorporated Micucci’s real drawings into the movie, in which he also stars with Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Gethard, Gillian Jacobs, and Tami Sagher.

With her songwriting partner Riki Lindhome, Micucci performs as Garfunkel and Oates—a musical comedy duo who are favorites of ours, and we’ve featured here several times over the last few years. Their latest endeavor was the Vimeo release, Garfunkel and Oates: Trying to Be Special; one of the songs from the show, “Frozen Lullaby,” was just nominated for an Emmy.

In addition to her art and music, Micucci is a regular television actor, best known for her roles on shows such as The Big Bang Theory, Raising Hope, and Scrubs. She sat down with us recently to talk about what’s new in her world of film, TV, and music.

Austin Trunick [Under the Radar]: Congratulations on your Emmy nomination for your song from the Garfunkel and Oates special.

Kate Micucci: Thank you so much!

You’ve taken your first step towards an EGOT.

I didn’t think about it like that, but you’re right. It was a complete surprise, but I think that’s what made it so exciting.

You’re a musical theater geek –

I am! Are you?

Well, I enjoy it, but I know there are lots of people out there who really enjoy it.

[Laughs] The funny thing is I don’t really geek out about anything else, but Broadway is the one thing I just can’t get enough of, ever. I just love it so much.

The first thing you a Riki did together was a musical, correct?

Yeah, it came out of the writer’s strike. The strike was happening and Riki wanted to do a short, because we all had time on our hands. She asked if I’d come over – she’d seen me perform in my solo show, and asked if I’d want to come over and write some songs. She also would write funny songs on her own, and so we joined forces for this little short that she made called Imaginary Larry. We wrote two songs in three hours and were like, oh, this is fun, this is easy. We put them on YouTube for her mom and dad to see… and then a lot of people saw it. [Laughs] I remember being so embarrassed. “Oh, no! People are seeing this??” But then it made us aware that people wanted to see more, and encouraged us to keep doing it.

Did you have any improv background before you got into Don’t Think Twice?

No, I didn’t really have any improv background. For two or three days in college I was in an improv group called Catholic Guilt. It didn’t last long at all. [Laughs] The group just fell apart, but we got T-shirts made so I guess that counts.

So, yeah, I never had any improv training. I took the 101 class years ago at UCB, but other than that I really hadn’t performed as an improviser. But the show that Riki and I do, that we tour with, we don’t plan – we have our setlist, which we sort of stick to, but all the banter and talking is improvised, so I guess it’s our weird, two-person version of an improv show. But to be in a group like The Commune in Don’t Think Twice? I’d never been part of that. But the cool thing was, we had two weeks of training and I got to take classes with some of the best people in the world, so that was really great.

I have to imagine performing with one of those improv groups could be a little like being in a band, that the more you play together the more chemistry you build.

That’s something I think was so important – The Commune, in the movie, had been together I think ten years, and had lived together and known each other for so long. It would have been really hard to start shooting day one and be like, “Hi, nice to meet you. Now here we go!” That was one of the best parts, building that community – Mike saying, “Hey everybody, come early, we’re going to do this for two weeks and get to know each other.” We went bowling and out to dinners, and we were really friends by the time we started shooting. It made all the difference.

You perform live as a musician, and have done all different types of comedy, but going out and doing improv – not having any idea what you’re going to be performing beforehand – was that frightening?

It’s terrifying! For me, it was so scary. I had that feeling – it brought me back to middle school. It was like, that feeling hasn’t gone away, has it? But, I love to scare myself. It’s part of the job, I guess. I love feeling terrified when no one’s life is in danger, if you know what I mean. [Laughs] I don’t want to go skydiving. That’s okay. But going up on stage? It’s always a little bit terrifying, but I think that’s why it’s so addicting. That little bit of anything can happen.

Do you have any rituals you do, or methods of getting yourself in the mindset to perform?

Yeah, we had our own rituals for our group. I think that’s important. I think it might sound hippy-trippy, but in that moment before you go out on stage – a million different conversations can be happening, but then you all have a ritual as a way of centering yourselves. A way of saying, “Okay, we’re a group. This is a thing. We’re ready. Let’s go!”

We did that with The Commune, and then Riki and I have a chant we do every night before we go out on stage. We actually put the chant in our comedy special, so people can see it – it’s not a secret or anything. It’s got a bunch of swear words. [Laughs] But a ritual is nice. It’s important.

Your real artwork was used in this film. Can you walk me through how that came about? Did Mike know you drew and wrote it in, or was it a happy coincidence?

It was really lucky. When I auditioned for the movie and then was talking to Mike about it, skyping, he said he was thinking about making the character a cartoonist, and I was super excited about that. He’d seen my cartoons on Instagram, I think. It made a lot of sense for my character, Allison.

I remember when I first went to see improv as someone in the audience, I was so enamored by it and I thought, this is just like cartooning. In my mind, I thought it was a similar thing because I don’t ever plan my cartoons – I just draw, and then something happens. Something takes shape, then I figure out, oh, I can do this thing, and then I work out a punchline. It’s not planned, it just happens, and I’ve heard from other cartoonists who feel the same way. You just sit down with a piece of paper, it’s not something you already have set in your head. I mean, I’m sure there are people who do. I remember thinking, though, that improv was so much like cartooning, so it was serendipitous that Mike said, “I think our character should be a cartoonist.” I was like, “Oh my god, that makes so much sense. I would love that.” And, of course, it was really cool to have my actual cartoons in the movie.

You studied visual arts, right?

Mm-hmm.

I know you do both now, but how did you go from visual arts to acting?

Well, it sort of makes sense. I wanted to be a toy designer – that was my whole big plan. I got into sculpture, then I got into making puppets, and then I got into performing with those puppets. And then, “Oh, man, maybe I can do voiceovers?” Because it was really fun to doing all the voices for the puppets. So then, yeah, it kinda went from visual arts to sculpture to puppets to voiceovers to acting. And I still love puppets! I have a puppet on my refrigerator.

Your next thing coming up looks to be the TV show Powerless, which takes place in a world where superheroes are real. Do you read superhero comics?

I’m a big Peanuts fan. [Laughs] I don’t know the superhero world really well, but I’m getting to know it better. As far as comics go – I always read the comics in the paper after school, almost religiously. And then on Sundays, the color comics. Peanuts, and For Better Or Worse, those were my top two favorites. But the superhero world I know more from walking around at Comic-Con. I love seeing the people dressed up – that’s the coolest thing.

Can you tell me three people whose work has inspired you recently: as an actor, as a visual artist, and as a musician?

There’s this artist out of L.A., his name is Woodrow White. That’s the coolest thing about Instagram – I follow a lot of artists, and one person will tag another, so you discover a lot of new people. Woodrow does these paintings of pools, and I’m obsessed with them. He does these pieces, and they’re gorgeous. Lately, he’s been one of my new, favorite artists.

Acting? I really love Maria Bamford’s new show, Lady Dynamite. I’ve known Maria for years through the comedy world, but I think her new show is really great, and so much fun. I’m super stoked for her, and also a fan.

Musically, getting back to Broadway: I’ve been obsessed with the musical Waitress. Sara Bareilles wrote all of the music, and I got to see it a few weeks ago. It’s so great. The lead girl, Jessie Mueller, won the Tony for Beautiful, the Carol King Musical, and she’s incredible in this show. I’ve been listening to that soundtrack a lot on my iPod.

You just put out a Garfunkel and Oates special through Vimeo. Is that something you’d like to do more of in the future?

We had been wanting to make a special for a while, and it was really cool that we finally got to capture the show we’d been touring with for so long. We’ve taken that show all over the country, and so for people who can’t get to a city where we’re at or can’t afford to go to a show, they can watch the special, which is awesome. And I think the special is kind of neat, because you get to see our friendship in a way – I’m really proud of it, because you see us both as friends and as performers.

I think we’d need to come up with a new batch of material before we make another special. [Laughs] But it would be a possibility once we write more. But I think the next thing we want to do is a musical, so that’s the hope there.

Keep working towards that EGOT.

There you go!

***

Don’t Think Twice opens in NYC on July 22nd. You can see Micucci’s artwork on her website, or see the latest from Garfunkel and Oates at GarfunkelandOates.com.



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Jack Rass
July 30th 2016
9:01am

Kate Micucci acting carrer is gowing fast it’s really awesome seeing her succeding in this competitive industry

jenniferlassiter
August 28th 2016
11:43pm

Hey Austin Trunick am the big fan of “Kate Micucci” my first movie where i seen her it was awesome “Bart Got a Room”.

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May 9th 2020
10:26am

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