Working And Dating In LA, Living To Sing The Tale

Aug 7, 2014
Originally published on August 7, 2014 10:43 am

Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome, who perform together as Garfunkel and Oates, are experts at wrapping ugly, hilarious truths in sweet melodies. The guitar-and-ukulele duo's simple, often saucy songs about love, dating and navigating life as 30-something women have now made their way to a scripted comedy on IFC. Lindhome and Micucci recently spoke with NPR's David Greene; hear their conversation at the audio link.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are experts at wrapping ugly, hilarious truths into sweet melodies.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PREGNANT WOMEN ARE SMUG")

GARFUNKEL AND OATES: (Singing) Pregnant women are smug. Everyone knows it. Nobody says it 'cause they're pregnant. Effing son of a gun. You think you're so deep now. You give me the creeps now that you're pregnant.

GREENE: Yes, this is the song "Pregnant Women Are Smug" by Lindhome and Micucci's comedy band, Garfunkel and Oates. So named, they say, in honor of the two greatest second bananas in rock 'n roll history. They play the ukulele and the guitar. And their songs leave you wondering is it really possible to be this sweet and this risque at the same time? Lindhome says it's just a reflection of their real lives.

RIKI LINDHOME: I was talking to three pregnant girls who were in my theater company at the time.

GREENE: And they were just annoying the hell out of you?

LINDHOME: Well, they were just talking about pregnant people stuff and I was totally fine with it - just kind of listening until the one turned to me and was like, what do you even do all day?

GREENE: How do you live not being pregnant?

LINDHOME: Exactly.

GREENE: How do you pass the time?

LINDHOME: As if you don't remember four months ago.

GREENE: It's that kind of tone-deaf comment and the everyday humiliations of their lives in Los Angeles that provide the fodder for Lindhome and Micucci's new show on the cable channel IFC. The show revolves around the duo's music and the tight bond they formed working and dating in the comedy world.

KATE MICUCCI: We met at a mutual friend's comedy show. And Riki and I were both on really boring dates. And so we started talking to each other and totally hit it off. And yeah, we just kind of stayed in touch after that, and about a year or two later started writing songs.

GREENE: So if those dates had gone well this might never have happened?

LINDHOME: Yeah, thank God we don't have love lives. (Laughter).

MICUCCI: I never thought about that, though. Had that date been going really, really well, we would never have talked.

LINDHOME: I know, we would never have talked to each other.

GREENE: Well, the way that you met and came together, I mean, it feels like it almost plays out like one of the episodes of the new show. Tell me what you two are going for here.

LINDHOME: Going for the in show?

GREENE: Yeah.

LINDHOME: Ratings. No, I'm just kidding.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: There you have it, Riki. And that is the end of the interview.

LINDHOME: The big money. What are we going for?

MICUCCI: You know, we're playing ourselves. It's definitely an exaggerated version of ourselves. But often times we're like man, I wish we could share this moment with people because we have the funniest stories from being on the road, dating stories. Like - so yeah, we're just, you know, we're bringing a bit of our lives to TV.

LINDHOME: And I think we're going for just - we want people to have fun and then after the episode go, oh, that was - they were, like, making a point there.

MICUCCI: It's the same thing we try to do with our music because, you know, we write these songs that are pretty dirty. But at the same time, usually, they have a point to them. So hopefully people can get something out of it as well as laugh.

GREENE: I want to play a scene here because there's this dynamic between the two of you. Riki, your reactions to some of Kate's naivete - it's pretty priceless. This is a scene with Natasha Leggero.

(PHONE BEEPING)

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GARFUNKEL AND OATES")

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GARFUNKEL AND OATES")

MICUCCI: It's Daniel again. I don't know why he's not getting it. (Reading) Busy at work. Upside down smiley face.

LINDHOME: You mean sad face?

MICUCCI: Oh, yeah.

LINDHOME: He's not getting it 'cause you're trying to break up with him without breaking up with him.

NATASHA LEGGERO: I just always text back can you pick up my kids from school?

MICUCCI: The last guy I dated I wrote back mailer-daemon.

LINDHOME: Mailer-daemon? That's for email.

MICUCCI: Well, it worked.

LINDHOME: God, is everybody doing this?

MICUCCI: Yeah.

LEGGERO: Yeah.

LINDHOME: This has to be our new song.

MICUCCI: Oh, yeah. We can call it "The Fade Away."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE FADE AWAY."

GARFUNKEL AND OATES: (Singing) Inside I know my tactics, just delay it. But I'll do anything so I don't have to say it. I'll draw this out forever like it's Vietnam. Then one day I'll be gone like Bambi's mom. Aw. 'Cause there's the right thing to do. Then there's what I'm gonna do. There's so much I should say. But instead, I do the fade away. Fade away.

MICUCCI: "The Fade Away" came from me doing that one too many times. Like, you know when you go out with a guy for however many dates and then you're realizing this isn't something that you want to pursue. But rather than just being honest with them, you kind of just text it out of existence. And you know, I feel like a lot of people do it. It's sort of an odd phenomenon. I had just turned 30 and Riki was like, you know what, you just turned 30. This is not - you're too old to be doing the fade away. Let's write this song.

GREENE: Riki, one thing that strikes me - the relationship between your characters. It's really supportive. I mean, it feels much more fulfilling than the partnership, certainly, among any of the dudes you encounter in the show. I mean, that feels like a really important part of it.

LINDHOME: Yeah, and that's deliberate 'cause that's - I mean, in a way, that's kind of why our dating lives aren't as maybe as great as they could be because we don't need it as much I think.

GREENE: Because you have each other, you're saying?

LINDHOME: Yeah. Yeah.

MICUCCI: I remember about a year into working and writing together, we were, you know, on the phone at night doing our daily check-in, almost like how was your day? How was your day? And then Riki was like, oh, my gosh, we're like doing the check-in phone call.

LINDHOME: Like, we're dating.

GREENE: You're dating.

LINDHOME: Like, we're for sure dating.

MICUCCI: (Laughter) Yeah, it was just a big revelation because we weren't dating guys. We were just, you know, working and checking in with each other at the end of the night. And we are really supportive of each other in our lives. And I think you have to be when you're working together so closely. I think that, I mean, we're very lucky in a way.

LINDHOME: Yeah, I think the network maybe wanted us to have some conflict because that's, you know, part of storytelling. But we really had trouble having it between the two of us, and so we just had it with other characters.

GREENE: Really? They were kind of putting a little pressure saying, like, can you two fight ever?

LINDHOME: Well, it's just like a normal dramatic trope. There's conflict in every story. And we just never could find any. We're like, uh, can we just fight with other people?

GREENE: Are you both as raunchy as you come across in the show?

LINDHOME: Yes.

MICUCCI: I - Yeah.

LINDHOME: I know Kate's, like, trying to protest but she can't think of the words 'cause she knows I'm right. (Laughter).

MICUCCI: Yeah, no, I'm stuck. I'm just stuck. I'm frozen here. Yeah?

LINDHOME: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GARFUNKEL AND OATES")

MICUCCI: Do you think I could be a hot slut?

LINDHOME: Yeah, totally.

MICUCCI: For a part in a movie?

LINDHOME: Oh. In walks hot slut, dress bursting at the seams, more curves than a man knows what to do with. I thought I told you to stay away.

MICUCCI: You didn't mean that.

LINDHOME: Leave before I call the cops. He closes the blinds.

MICUCCI: You're not going to call the cops.

LINDHOME: I'd do it sexier.

MICUCCI: You're not going to call the cops.

GREENE: If we set aside, for a moment, the raunchy, the funny - I mean, you mentioned earlier that you're trying to get to something larger. What is it?

LINDHOME: I think we're just trying to be, like, a new kind of feminist. What do you think, Kate?

MICUCCI: Yeah, I don't know. I feel like, you know, when we tour and people come to us afterward to tell us how a song really affected them in their lives, that's such a cool feeling. And I feel like we've, you know, tried to do that with the show a bit, too, so people can say oh, that really - I related to that.

GREENE: Riki, what do you mean by new feminist, I wonder?

LINDHOME: I don't know. I regretted saying it the minute I said it.

(LAUGHTER)

GREENE: But now you did.

LINDHOME: But just like - just a different way to show feminism, 'cause the show is - it's not hit you over the head feminist, but it's very pro-female. And this is set in the comedy world, but there's a lot of male-dominated fields that women are trying to find their own path in.

GREENE: Well, Riki, Kate, thank you so much. And best of luck with the show.

MICUCCI: Cool, thank you so much.

LINDHOME: Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEY GIRL IN THE MOONLIGHT")

GARFUNKEL AND OATES: (Singing) Where do I look when someone's serenading me? I look him in the eyes and it feels really awkward. Am I supposed to stare at him the entire song? If I look away, will he know I'm bored?

GREENE: Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci - they're the comedians behind the band Garfunkel and Oates and their scripted television show - of the same name - debuts tonight on IFC. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

And I'm Steve Inskeep. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.