Set to perform at the Venetian in Las Vegas on March 21st (or this weekend), actresses Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome, the pair behind folk comedy group Garfunkel and Oates, have come along way since meeting at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in 2006. Over the past nine years the singers-songwriters have put out four comedy albums, been featured on an episode of Comedy Central’s The Half Hour, and launched a television series on IFC. Born and raised in similarly small Pennsylvanian towns, the uproarious duo have carved out a niche for themselves penning witty and raunchy songs that mock everyone from smug pregnant women to bible thumpers who, in attempt to retain their virginity, have anal sex.
Before tackling our Lucky 7, the dynamic duo discuss the changes in their musical collaboration, performing vulgar material in Texas, and why their love for Hall, Oates, Simon, and Garfunkel will never fade.
How do these songs usually come together?
Lindhome: Well it takes long and longer these days. It was a lot easier in the beginning, but now it takes a long time.
Is that because there are now high expectations?
Lindhome: Yeah, I think writing two songs is easy. But when you’ve written 60 songs you want the 61st song to be better then the previous 60. What would you say our writing process is Kate?
Micucci: I would say it’s definitely changed as the years go on. Recently, it’s boiled down to us brainstorming on a subject for a long time, and we might even brainstorm for months at time. We’ll have a document, sometimes 20 pages long about whatever the subject matter is. Then Riki will take that and try to formulate it into lyrics and try to weed out what we want to use. Then I’ll take those and begin to set a melody to it. And then we’ll come together and it’s a free for all from there.
When you two go on tour around the country, have you found regions where the material works better or worse?
Lindhome: You know it’s funny, the more I tour, the less I know what to expect from an audience. I feel like you can prejudge it and go, “Oh it’s Utah, they’re not going to like this material.” And then you’re just wrong pretty much every time. So we never know what we’re getting into. Every show is different. When we started people were just going to a generic comedy show, so the response was a lot more mixed. Now, people are generally coming to see us. It’s pretty positive. They’re not surprised.
Micucci: What I would say is 90% of the time that I think, “Oh my gosh we’re going to a very conservative place,” it’s always the best crowds. I never know what to think anymore. The bible belt has been very good to us.
I would’ve never thought that.
Lindhome: Yeah, we have this really racy song called “The Loophole,” and the first time we played it was in Dallas, and it went really well. And we were like, “Okay, we don’t know anything.”
Micucci: It went so well that people were offering up stories. It was really crazy.
How much do you two like Hall & Oates and Simon and Garfunkel?
Lindhome: I mean pretty much more than anything. Those are probably my two favorite bands. Micucci: We’ve seen Hall & Oates maybe eight times probably, if not more. We kind of go crazy when we get to see them live. And thankfully John Oates reached out to us early on in our comedy career and we’ve become friends. We go to each other’s shows, which is pretty cool.
What are they like live now?
Lindhome: They’re so good. Their voices are the same and as you can probably imagine their playing is even better. Every show feels like they’re playing it for the first time. They don’t seem bored. It’s so fun. And it’s just this weird mix of people. All ages. I read something that their tour now is bigger than it was in the 80s. It’s amazing.
What was your first exposure to Playboy?
Lindhome: The first time I saw it was in wood-shop class in 7th grade. Some of the boys had a Playboy and I was like, “What is that?” I thought it was scandalous.
Micucci: I remember there was a magazine store in my town and there was a section that was sectioned off a little bit. Being a kid it was the lowest level. They didn’t have a big piece of paper over it, so I remember just seeing the words. I remember wanting to go for those magazines and my parents saying, “No, no, no. Not those.” It wasn’t something that I was allowed to see, but I didn’t understand why. I’m not sure why they put those at eye-level for kids.
What movie scared you the most as a kid?
Micucci: I remember going to see Little Shop of Horrors in the movie theater and crying and having to leave. I was probably five or six. It was New Years Eve and my parents took my brother and I thinking, “Oh, it’s a musical; kids will like it.” And now it’s one of my very favorite musicals, but when you’re a kid, and you see people getting eaten by a plant, it’s a little scary.
Lindhome: I don’t think as saw any scary movies as a kid, but I remember being terrified by the “Thriller” video. I thought it was the scariest thing I’d ever seen. When he turns around with those yellow eyes at the end I would just scream.
On the off chance that you both end up on death row, which I don’t think is going to happen, what would your last meal be?
Micucci: My mom’s spaghetti. It’s the best.
Lindhome: I knew she was going to say that!
Micucci: It’s a sauce recipe that’s been passed down for a ton of generations. So that would be my choice.
Lindhome: I would get the chef selection at Providence. It’s basically this chef who just brings you a bunch of fish dishes and stuff. It’s my favorite restaurant. And then I’d probably order a margarita.
What was the first song you knew all the words to?
Micucci: I’m terrible with lyrics, even like Christmas songs I still don’t know a lot of the lyrics. For some reason lyrics don’t stick in my head. But I remember very consciously trying to learn all the words to “Ants Marching,” the Dave Matthews Band song. Lindhome: The first song I knew all the lyrics to was, “Like a Virgin.” I didn’t know what was a virgin was. I just loved that song and I’d dance around to it, and I’d make up dance routines to it. I thought a virgin was a bird. In the video she releases a bunch of doves and I thought that was a “virgin bird.”
What was your first car?
Micucci: My first car was a white Bronco II. After OJ happened, my brother and I were like, “Woah, we have a white Bronco.” Lindhome: Mine was my aunt’s old Ford Mustang. Mine was white, too. It really wasn’t cool. When I say “old,” I’m being nice about it. It was a 2-door, very small for the icy roads of Buffalo.
What is your pop culture blind spot?
Micucci: I don’t watch a lot of reality shows, so maybe The Bachelor? I feel like everybody is really loving The Bachelor right now and I just don’t have any clue about it.
Lindhome: I’ve never seen The Bachelor or American Idol. And anything to do with sports. Any athlete in any way, including the olympics. I know zero. I don’t get it and I don’t care.
Micucci: Music-wise, we’re pretty up on pop stuff.
Lindhome: But we’re so out of it in terms of “cool bands” that we don’t even know what we’re missing.
What was your favorite mistake?
Micucci: Oh man, that Sheryl Crow song. (Laughs) Lindhome: (My favorite mistake, and it might be yours Kate, it was the thing that got our whole band started. The first song we wrote, we were trying to write this love duet. Kate and I were singing, “As the stars above/I really want to … ” and Kate said, “kiss you” and I said “fuck you.” And then we were like, “That’s our song and the dynamic for our whole band.” That’s it.
Micucci: That is the best answer. Had we not had that moment, I don’t know if we would have Garfunkel & Oates.