Meet The Whimsical Comedy Band That Sings About Dicks
Art Garfunkel. John Oates. Two talented men who changed America’s musical landscape forever, only to be outshined by their flashier counterparts, Simon and Hall. Musical “second bananas,” as it were. But since 2007, they’ve been given their own fabulous tribute—well, on top of the millions of fans and millions of dollars in royalties—in the form of two ladies singing whimsical songs about dicks: Garfunkel and Oates, a comedy band that recently released their first special, Trying to be Special, on Vimeo.
Garfunkel and Oates is made up of Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, two successful comedic actresses and writers who’ve made appearances in everything from Gilmore Girls to Scrubs. They even had their own self-titled show on IFC in 2014, which followed slightly less notable versions of Lindhome and Micucci around Los Angeles.
Garfunkel and Oates shine a light on a lot of issues that people, especially men, don’t necessarily want to talk abut, incorporating everything from the boredom of blowjobs to the reality of freezing one’s eggs. They’re simultaneously whimsical, irreverent, and truth telling with a feminist bent. Sample lyric: “Hush little egg baby don’t say a word, mama’s gonna freeze you till she gets rich.”
Lindhome currently stars on Comedy Central’s Another Period, which she co-created with the hilarious Natasha Leggero; the show is described as Keeping Up with the Kardashians for the Gilded Age, following two impossibly spoiled heiresses at the turn of the 20th century. It’s heart-stoppingly funny, as well as actually informative—I learned that apparently something called cocaine wine, which is exactly what it sounds like, was actually a thing. Micucci has made appearances on the show as a member of an ill-fated women’s rights group; she’s currently in the midst of filming numerous movies after stints on major comedies like The Big Bang Theory and Raising Hope.
But Trying to be Special is pure, unfiltered Garfunkel and Oates. It vacillates between sweet tales of friendship and some fairly filthy tunes—“Handjob, Bland Job, I Don’t Understand Job,” a track about genital confusion, is a personal favorite. The special, which operates under the conceit that the band is trying to raise money to film a comedy special, is warm, frank, and funny, just like Lindhome and Micucci themselves. We talked to them about Trying to be Special, balancing work and life, and their favorite musicals.
How did the special come about?
Rikki Lindhome: We’ve always wanted to do [a special], it was always in the back of our minds. I think every comedian wants to do a comedy special. But the timing was never really right, and by the time we were ready to do an hour that’s when we started the TV show. So this felt like the right time.
Kate Micucci: It was something we talked about for so long, and we really wanted to capture the live show that we’ve been touring with, especially for people who haven’t had a chance to see us live. So it was kind of perfect timing.
How did you guys meet?
KM: We met at UCB, and neither of us were performing in the stand-up world at all at that point, so we were just friends. Actually, neither of us were performing live at all, we were just—we recognized each other from commercial auditions, and we just hit it off there. And we became friends for a couple years before we actually started writing songs together.
Something I really love about your songs is that they sound so sweet, and then they tackle issues that are really important to women—and they have great dick jokes. What is your songwriting process like?
RL: We don’t just jump into a song. We do a huge brainstorm to try to see if a topic has enough to it to warrant a whole song. Because if it doesn’t have enough for a whole song, we’ll just drop it. But if we feel that we find enough material, that’s when we start the actual writing process.
Kate, on a random note, I wanted to ask you, are you still super into puppets?
KM: My puppet is on my refrigerator, my Kate puppet from our show. I’m not doing anything with puppets right now—I don’t know, I’m sure I’ll get back to it at some point. Ever since I was a little kid, I was kind of making puppets.
“We go out there and it’s not always perfect, but it’s always spontaneous and fun, in a good way.”
What do you consider the overall theme of the special?
KM: It wasn’t until later, until after the fact, that I realized that it’s so much about our friendship. You really get a sense of who we are as a duo and as friends. We never really plan what we’re going to say onstage, and we didn’t for the special, either. We just went out there and did the shows. We definitely have stories that relate to the songs that we’ll tell, but we never really plan it out thoroughly.
RL: We just go out there and start. I think that’s part of our show, is that we go out there and it’s not always perfect, but it’s always spontaneous and fun, in a good way. You can see us over and over because it’s different every time.
That’s a good money-making technique! You guys are really, really close. How much time do you actually spend together?
RL: Well, we’re working a lot.
KM: Every hour of the day.
RL: We’re running a business, and it takes a lot to maintain a business. We write together, we do interviews together, we eat lunch together, and then when we’re on the road, we’re together every second. And sometimes we even share the same hotel room, so it’s 24/7.
KM: Yeah, when we’re working and touring we’re together all the time, so it’s really good that we like each other so much.
I’ve always been obsessed with “Handjob, Bland Job, I Don’t Understand Job.” Can I ask about its origins?
KM: I can’t remember when we first started talking about it, but we were kind of saying we were having trouble in that…
RL: Yeah, we were saying it’s a little confusing, and then it just went from there. It started as a casual conversation.
Are you in touch with Art Garfunkel and John Oates?
RL: We’re friends with John Oates, but we just haven’t heard from Garfunkel. We’d like to, we just haven’t yet.
KM: The cool thing about John [Oates] was that he wrote us on Myspace—that’s how long ago it was, we were just starting out—saying, “Hey, if I come to a show, you owe me a beer,” and we ended up opening for him, and we’ve been friends since.
You guys are constantly filming other projects, and you manage the band and tours. How do you balance everything?
RL: It’s hard!
KM: For a long time, it was just Garfunkel and Oates. Like when we were making our TV show and touring at the same time, there was no room for anything else. But it kind of goes in waves [and depends] on what we’re working on.
RL: We do as much as we can.
KM: Riki was shooting her first season of Another Period while on tour with Garfunkel and Oates without having a second for a break that entire time.
Is it hard to get inspired when you’re on that schedule?
RL: I would say that it’s hard to find that creative energy [when there’s so much going on]. I would like to say no, it’s really easy, but it’s hard.
KM: In order to write freely or feel inspired I always feel like I need a little bit of space, a little bit of room in my head. It’s hard when you’re working all the time to have that space.
And what’s next?
RL: We have a couple dates coming up, but we’re also still figuring out our next move. We really want to write a musical.
What would it be about?
RL: No idea. [Laughs]
KM: We’re big, big musical fans. We [have been] going to see Broadway shows since we were little. I don’t know what it’ll be. We talk about it a lot, but we’re not really sure.
Oooh, what are your favorite musicals?
RL: My favorite right now is Hamilton [Laughs]. Kate’s is Into the Woods.
To finish up, what’s the overall message you want people to get from the special?
RL: It’s a very personal special. There are personal stories, personal videos. We want to bring you into our world.
Watch Garfunkel and Oates: Trying To Be Special on Vimeo.
Images courtesy of Vimeo
Stay tuned to Milk for more musical handjob news.