DAME Duets With Garfunkel and Oates’s Kate Micucci

The brunette half of the musical comedy team talks about egg-freezing, being a second banana, and auditioning for elf roles.

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To get an idea of the comic sensibilities of Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome, all you need to do is look at the name they picked for their musical comedy act: Garfunkel and Oates. In picking the names of two famously underappreciated “second bananas” in rock history, Micucci and Lindhome are preparing audiences to watch a female duo who don’t take themselves too seriously. In fact, most of their songs express bewilderment about their lives, couched in cute melodies crammed with multisyllabic lyrics. They sing about rapidly going from having the world in front of you to wondering why no one will marry them in “29/31”; they get excited about California’s loose medical marijuana laws in “Weed Card”; they scratch their heads at women who think getting pregnant is some sort of achievement in “Pregnant Women Are Smug.”

They’ve been writing these kinds of songs since they met at L.A.’s Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in 2006, touring with their musical act while building acting careers that have been impressive in their own right. Lindhome appeared in a number of films, including Million Dollar Baby, and had recurring roles on series like Enlightened, Super Fun Night, and Gilmore Girls. Micucci brought her doe-eyed quirkiness to shows like Scrubs, Raising Hope, and The Big Bang Theory. But their songs have finally been able to reach a larger audience because of the first season of comedy, Garfunkel and Oates, on IFC, which airs the season finale tonight. DAME spoke with Micucci about her friendship with Lindhome and their bond with John Oates, and tries to unpack the mind of the Internet troll.

How much of the friendship vibe that we see on the show is true to life?

Riki and I are so close. We know so much about each other; like in the episode where Riki freezes her eggs, she went through that last year and so you really get to know someone. Knowing every worry, and I was making sure she was okay during that time and it kind of makes you a little nutty but that was an interesting process for the both of us. I’m going to freeze my eggs so she’ll probably have to deal with me in a couple of months.

So, did you guys really switch hairstyles for awhile?

We had a discussion about hair. We definitely did not swap hair. There are some episodes that are fantastical, that was probably our craziest. Also the episode where we go on dates and don’t talk. That’s the cool thing about making a TV show, you can fantasize about, “Oh my gosh, what would that be like? That would be so funny to go on a date and not talk and see what happens. What a great experiment.” But I don’t think either of us would actually be able to do that in real life.

What came first for you, the music or the comedy?

Riki was actually an amazing flute player. In college she was in the orchestra and she’d grown up playing flute. I’d grown up playing classical piano and I competed since I was 4. In college we were each writing funny songs—we didn’t know each other at that time, but it’s really odd looking at our past because we both moved to L.A. at the same month, same year, trying to pursue acting. We’d always see each other at commercial auditions that were for aliens or elves—there was a time in the early aughts where girls with big eyes were really in, so we knew each other vaguely through that. We were just friends for a couple of years then Riki wrote a short film. She wanted to make it a musical and she wondered if I could come over and co-write some songs. It happened so easily. I don’t think we’ve written a song so easily since, but it’s where the universe is just kind of like, “Hey, you guys should try this. This could happen.”

Are the songs you write a reflection on what’s going on with you guys at that juncture just like the show?

Definitely and we’ve been writing songs for six years now and you can see our progression. The songs have become way wordier and more complex in the past year or two. Writing a comedy song is tricky. It’s like a math problem and you have to make it funny and it has to rhyme and it also has to make sense musically. Also as we get older, it changes, like our perspective on dating. We would never have written “29/31” six years ago because we were both on the 29 side. It’s really kind of cool as we get older our feelings change towards things and we’re able to just put them into our songs. I’m so curious to see what will happen even in the next year, what we’ll be writing about. Definitely dating is a huge part of our music but also just what it’s like to be in your 30s. The show is just so much about what is it like to be in your 30s and a musical comedian who tours the country singing dirty songs. It’s an odd life.

There’s an episode where you guys do a show upstate somewhere and you were followed around by the guy that says women aren’t funny. Do you get that kind of flak in real life?

That character is pretty much Twitter and YouTube comments combined, because that’s really where we find a lot of that. A lot of people say, “Make me a sandwich,” “Go back to the kitchen,” which I guess is a way of saying don’t do the thing you’re doing and just make me a sandwich. I’ve not come across someone in real life who was screaming at us “Women aren’t funny.” But online they’re screaming at us all the time.

Why do you think there’s that attitude still?

I really don’t know. There have been so many funny women for so long. I grew up watching I Love Lucy. It’s my favorite television show. How can you say women aren’t funny when you watch that show? But I think women in comedy are having a great moment right now. I think people just follow each other online and if one person says it another person says it. But we don’t let it stop us, of course.

Tell me about the season finale.

The season finale ends with a music video, one of my favorite things of the whole season. I love that it’s bittersweet and really it’s one of the coolest things that we got to do for the whole series. I don’t want to give away too much but it’s basically an anthem for people who try.

You’ve had John Oates on the show. Did you reach out to Art Garfunkel?

No. You know, we know John because when we first started he contacted us through MySpace back in the day. He said, “I see you’re using my name. You owe me a beer whenever I come to your shows,” and we said, “Deal,” and then he said, “Would you like to open for me?” Very early on before we had even started touring, Riki and I opened for John Oates, his solo show out here in California. So we’ve known him for years now and we definitely were so excited to have him on this TV show. We’ve not heard from Art Garfunkel, I don’t know what exactly he thinks of us.

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