YouTube Sensation Garfunkel & Oates Re-Route the Road to Stardom
Take note, people of unbridled ambition. This is the new career path to fame:
1) Make a series of web videos DIY-style.
2) Make them irresistibly funny.*
3) Post them on YouTube with little regard for future employment.
4) Wait a year or two.
5) Watch them inexplicably go viral.
6) Conquer the world on tour. *and/or be easy on the eyes. That has more or less been the path for the comedic musical duo known to fans as Garfunkel & Oates — and known to their parents as Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, respectively. Of course, the two have been performing for the better part of their lives, theatrically and on TV, and also as individual jokester musicians, following various artistic muses along the way.
Earlier this year, a made-at-home video for their song “Pregnant Women are Smug” caught the favor of the interwebs, registering some million and half hits, and now they’re touring the country and pitching a semi-autobiographical series to HBO. They’ll be at Cobb’s this weekend, but before that, Lindhome took a moment from an increasingly demanding promotional schedule to describe their whirlwind arrival on the scene and talk a little more trash about smug pregnant women.
I’ve been watching your videos and they’re hysterical. They’re really refreshing in the sense that the focus is just on simple but clever songwriting, with few frills distracting us from the song. Do you think that’s why your videos have caught on and gone viral?
I’m really not sure. I think maybe. I don’t know what it is is. Maybe it’s just that we say stuff that people are thinking. Honestly, I’m not sure why it happened but I’m grateful that it did.
When did you start to realize that you really had done something special?
Things didn’t feel different until January of 2011. Then it felt like something had sort of changed. I’m not really sure what, but it felt like there was this greater awareness of us. But it wasn’t until this year, where we would play shows and people were singing the songs and stuff like that.
So talk a little bit about how you and Kate became friends and how you first decided to work together.
Well we met through our friend Doug Benson, who’s also a comedian. I’d been writing funny songs forever but not really performing them, and Kate called me and said, ‘oh I’m performing funny songs, come see me.’ So I went to see her and was like, 'oh OK, maybe we need to join forces,’ and that’s kind of how it started.
And you guys played the same style of music, too?
I played guitar with voice and she played ukelele with voice, and sometimes guitar with voice. But yeah, we both had that super simple melody. It’s come down to Kate’s more of the melody person and I’m more the lyrics person. It just sort of divided up that way, although we both work on both sides of it.
Had either of you done standup before or been in bands?
No, no, neither of us. We’d both been performing, I had done plays and she and I had both done TV spots, but neither of us had done standup.
And you mentioned that both of you had acted before, in various TV and film spots. Are those mediums that complement this songwriting project?
Yeah, I think so. Every aspect complements the other; the writing and the performing, it’s all cohesive.
Going back to your videos, the one that really caught my attention was “Pregnant Women are Smug.”
That’s the one that has the most hits!
It really struck a chord with the YouTubing public.
Yeah. When I wrote the words to that song, I thought 'somebody’s already done this, for sure.' And we looked everywhere and were like, 'no this has to have been done before, we cannot be the first people to write this.' But we looked and looked and looked, and we didn’t want to copy anyone but we were afraid subconsiously we might have, but no one had talked about it, so we were like, 'that’s cool.'
Yeah, so you’re trailblazers with this idea. It seems like a lot of women of a certain age hold this thought dearly, and I have noticed that with some women, there is this tension between women with and without child. Why do you think that is? Is it the smugness?
I think so. It’s just some of the things that pregnant women say, that don’t actually make any sense. That people just kind of give them the benefit of the doubt for no reason. Like saying 'it doesn’t matter what the sex is just as long as it’s healthy.' Who started that phrase? It makes no sense, at all. It’s like saying 'I don’t care what I have for lunch, as long as I don’t get cancer.' 'OK, but what do you want for lunch? We know you want your baby to baby to be healthy...'
Do you think that’s a song you’ll look back on someday, with child, and think, 'oh I was so naïve…' Or will you make a point to be whatever the opposite of smug is?
I don’t think so. We’re not making fun of being a mom, or anything about your body. The only thing we make fun of is things they say. And I don’t see myself saying that stuff. Since I was 16, that’s been one of my biggest pet peeves.
Some of the songs are very sweet, like "My Apartment’s Very Clean Without You." It seems like it would take some serious guts to mix sentimental songs with edgier songs. Is that a goal, to be able to mix in some serious songs?
It’s not really a goal, it was just where I was at, at the time. When you’re heartbroken, it’s really hard to write about anything else. That’s just kind of how it happened, not really by design. It’s like, 'ok, my apartment’s empty now. It feels weird.' It just came from a real place.
Who do you listen to on a normal basis that inspires you as a songwriter?
We watch a lot of musicals and listen to a lot of ‘80s music.
Have you seen Avenue Q or any of the other comedic musicals to have come through?
Oh my god, I love Avenue Q. I still desperately want to see Book of Mormon. We actually collaborated on that "Apartment is Empty" song with Jeff (Whitty) from Avenue Q (one of the two writers of the musical).
What’s on the horizon for this project? Touring, I trust, and anything else we should be on the lookout for?
We’re writing a show for HBO. Hopefully it will go, we have our fingers crossed. We’d love nothing more than for that to happen. We’re playing a new city every weekend, so things are busy.
Can you give us a general outline of the HBO show?
It’s basically our lives three years ago, starting a comedy band, living in L.A., trying to be grownup. I’m not totally sure how to do it.
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