By Andrea Warner
They write songs called “Sex with Ducks” and “This Party Took a Turn for the Douche.” They pen odes to one-night stands with lyrics like, “You may know my body / You don’t know my soul / You want the donut / But all you’re gonna get is the hole.”
Meet Garfunkel and Oates, a.k.a. Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, the newest, cutest, dirtiest alt-comedy duo, who have become viral phenoms thanks to homemade video recordings of their catchy and clever musical commentaries on everything from relationships to social etiquette, and satirical skewering of even the precious baby bump (take a listen to “Pregnant Women are Smug”).
It’s been a slow — and somewhat unintentional — climb up the comedy ladder. Both women are actresses (Micucci’s got a recurring role on the TV show Scrubs, while Lindhome most recently starred in the feature film The Last House on the Left) and long-time friends who started brainstorming some songs for Lindhome’s musical short, Imaginary Larry. The partnership evolved into writing more songs and posting videos of them on YouTube, which led to a monthly show at the Upright Citizens Brigade in L.A., that city’s leading playground for up-and-coming comedians.
Now, just a month after Garfunkel and Oates released their debut CD, Music Songs, Micucci and Lindhome are part of the Vancouver Global ComedyFest lineup, sharing program space with Carol Burnett and Steve Martin.
And no, they’re not sure how it happened either.
Has it surprised you that Garfunkel and Oates is selling out shows?
Riki Lindhome: I’m always surprised! I called Kate the other day before our Upright Citizens Brigade show, and I was like, “I don’t think anyone’s going to come,” and she was like, “They just called and it’s sold out already.” They ended up turning people away at the doors! It’s so crazy, because people who don’t get it don’t even like it a little. And people who like it love it. I had one friend come out to our first show, and this was when I realized how it was going to be. We had, like, five friends at our first show and they loved it, but then my other friend was like, “So, this is your band. Ummm...okay. Well, you seemed to be having fun. So, I’m gonna go.” And then he, like, took off! [Laughs] We think it’s cool though, the way it’s turned out.
Kate Micucci: It’s so weird, the fact that people know about us. And we’ve seen it change, too. It used to be all just our friends in the audience, but now it’s a lot of people we don’t know. A friend of mine yesterday went into a bookstore and they were playing our music! And what really surprises me is that people always hand us their instruments to sign. I’m always like, “Well, I don’t wanna ruin your ukulele.” But now it’s happened enough times that it’s not a shock. But I try to assess the situation: If it’s under $100, I’ll sign it, but if it’s worth a lot, I’m like, “Let’s find something else.”
“Sex with Ducks” was inspired by gay-marriage opponents and Proposition 8, but other songs like “One Night Stand” and “This Party Took a Turn for the Douche” — are there specific individuals who inspired them?
KM: Riki is always the idea girl, and oftentimes I’ll just sit at the piano while we’re talking and find the melody. I couldn’t even tell you most of the time who said what. It’s like our brains get all mushy or something [Laughs]
RL: Most songs have been inspired by something that’s happened, but not necessarily to us. “Party” happened when I was with two other friends at this really quiet downtown French restaurant, and this fraternity of guys came in, loud and drunk, and sat next to us. And my friend looks over at me and was like, “Well, this party just took a turn for the douche.” I just died laughing, and asked if I could have that phrase. “One Night Stand” was actually us just trying to make a song like “Bohemian Rhapsody” — one that changed a lot.
Have you found that fellow comedians are welcoming you into the comedy world?
RL: Completely. I think, to a surprising degree. This whole year has been beyond anything Kate and I could ever imagine. The first time we ever played at a comedy club was at the Laugh Factory, and we played on Tom Arnold’s bill between Steven Wright and Ron Wright, and it was unbelievable. I think part of it is because we’re women, and I think people are happier to have more women in the comedy world. It’s the opposite of it being a man’s world. They want women. It breaks things up and it’s a better show.
Carol Burnett will be at the festival, and she’s certainly one of the biggest influences for women in comedy.
KM: Oh, my god, I just heard she was going to be there. I’m such a huge fan! I live near CBS Studios, and when I drive by I always think that’s so cool — she filmed there. I hope I get to meet her when I’m there. Once I met Lily Tomlin on a soundstage, and she just came up to me and was like, “Hi, I’m Lily.” It was, like, four years ago, and I was working on my first TV show, and she was working on Will & Grace around the corner, and she just came up to me and I was like, “Oh, my god, I have your autograph taped to my wall.”