Garfunkel and Oates talk about their goals, song process and “Making It”

They may have taken on the monikers of the lesser-heralded halves of two famous musical duos, but don’t let their band name fool you. Garfunkel and Oates isn’t playing second fiddle to anyone. In fact, that’s a ukulele that Kate Micucci plays. Not a fiddle. And Micucci and her singing partner, Riki Lindhome, are on the rise — this weekend, they’re celebrating their first Half Hour Comedy Central special and playing to the big festival crowds in Tennessee at Bonnaroo.

It seemed as though they already are enjoying the good life, as they spoke with The Comic’s Comic last week by phone. “We’re in the middle of the ocean,” they told me. “Actually, we’re in a restaurant.” On Catalina Island, off the coast of southern California.

Their most recent video, uploaded on May 28, 2012, already had grabbed more than 555,000 views by this writing. It’s called 29/31. Roll the clip!

Do you feel differently now with the perspective of being 32 and 33 years old?

Lindhome: “It’s kind of how I felt.”
Micucci: ” She tells me I’m not quite there yet.”

Many of the media mentions of you two inevitably compare you to Flight of the Conchords. Is this something you relish? Despise? Would you like me to compare you to someone else instead?

Lindhome: “We think they’re great.”
Micucci:  “Who wouldn’t want to be compared to them?”
Lindhome: “They played arenas.”

And you were following in their footsteps with an HBO deal of your own. Where does that stand now?

Lindhome: “Hopefully we can make a show somewhere else. That’s the goal now. It’s just not going to be HBO. Which is a bummer.”

I’d seen Micucci perform solo before. Pardon me for asking you to recount this again, but how did the duo form?

Micucci: “Where did you see me?”

The HBO festival in Las Vegas in 2007. For the Andy Kaufman Awards.

Micucci: “That was my first big show ever. I fell into it backwards.”

Lindhome: “We were friends. We were acting together…I decided I wanted to direct a short. And then we decided to turn it into a musical.”

Micucci: “One of our songs was called, ‘Fuck You.’ Very quickly after that, though, I was doing Scrubs and they asked me if I could do that on the show.” Which she performed as “Screw You.”

From there, a duo was born.

Micucci: “It all happened very quickly.”

Here’s a clip in which G&O tells Comedy Central more details about their first live gig as a duo. Also, they talk about their worst jobs. Roll it.

When you’re writing a new song, do you sit down together for the whole process, or does one person write lyrics first or melody first?

Micucci: “I would definitely say Riki is more of a lyric girl, and I start with the melody.”

You’ve done multiple TV appearances already before this Comedy Central special, from Leno to G4 to the Independent Spirit Awards. When you’re performing for a larger audience that may not be hip to what you two are doing, do you approach it differently?

Lindhome: “We try to do the (song) that are less dirty…and we just try to speak slowly and clearly.”
Micucci: “Especially if we do a show at a comedy club. It often takes that first song. We need that one song to break it in. We have to make sure to get it across what we’re about.”

As an example from their Comedy Central Half Hour, here’s how they banter to lead into a song about responding to an amazing booty call sent to Lindhome’s phone. Roll the clip!

Riki, you have a podcast on the Nerdist network, “Making It,” in which you talk with your colleagues in the entertainment industry. Do you think your duo has made it yet? Or is there something left to make it to that point?

Lindhome: “You know, that’s weird. A lot of people I ask don’t feel like they’ve made it. I don’t know if we’ll know. What do you think? If we have a show?”
Micucci: “I feel like maybe if you feel like that…
Lindhome: “Maybe you don’t ever want to feel that way. You want to keep striving to make it.”
Micucci: “I guess if I asked my 15 year-old-self, I’d think I have. But if I asked my 30-year-old self, I wouldn’t think so.”

So, after recording this Comedy Central special, what now?

Lindhome: “Now it’s writing time. We’re basically starting over. We hope to get to a better level in our songwriting.”
Micucci: “Every day we sit and write for hours. It’s a renewed excitement for the whole thing.”
Lindhome: “That’s where we’re at. It’s very exciting and rewarding. We’re just super excited for the special.”
Micucci: “Yeah, and I think we’ll start to get out there more.”

You can watch Garfunkel and Oates premiere their Half Hour on Comedy Central tonight. You can see them live this weekend at the Bonnaroo festival in Tennessee, June 13 in Seattle, and June 22 at Largo in Los Angeles.

And you can purchase their CD, Slippery When Moist, now on iTunes:

Slippery When Moist - Garfunkel and Oates

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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