While the alter egos of stand-up duo Garfunkel and Oates pay homage to two of rock & roll’s top “second bananas,” musicians/comedians Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci are more likely to sing about blowjobs and pompous pregnant women than, say, troubled waters or dreams coming true. After honing their live act and releasing popular YouTube videos for a few years, the pair landed an eponymous series on IFC, playing exaggerated versions of themselves and using awkward real-life experiences — fertility treatments, awful sex, misogynistic “fans” — as inspiration. They’ve even landed such guest stars as Sir Ben Kingsley, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and John Oates himself as a porn store clerk (the running joke is that Micucci is Oates because if she doesn’t wax, she’ll grow a mustache).
With the season’s last episode airing tonight at 10 p.m., Rolling Stone caught up with the duo to talk about how they separate their real lives from fiction, working with legends like Sir Ben and Yankovic, and which song strangely led to the biggest backlash.
Without spoiling anything, the finale was very tender as opposed to some of the earlier, raunchier stuff. Why the switch-up?
Lindhome: It just felt right.
Micucci: A lot of [the show] is about our friendship, and we kind of wanted to show the less-crazy side of it.
Lindhome: We love super-silly moments, funny moments, serious moments, weird moments. We love to have it all be part of the show.
It’s based on real events, like Riki going through fertility treatment to freeze her eggs. What else has been taken from your lives? Hopefully not a “kazoo parade.”
Micucci: Well, I have been the grand marshal of the kazoo parade in my hometown of Nazareth, Pennsylvania. I did dress up as Uncle Sam and marched through the streets with about 150 kazooers behind me playing patriotic songs — so that’s true, though it might not sound like it.
Have any of the awkward or sad real-life story lines been difficult for you to revisit?
Lindhome: Not really, no. Maybe they should, but it felt fine to me.
Micucci: I think Riki exposes a lot onstage, so at our live shows, we talk about freezing eggs and all that. This is just a bigger audience.
Has the line between the fictional version of yourselves and reality blurred at all?
Lindhome: I think it has, actually. Sometimes I find myself in this super-raw place onstage where I’m like, “Maybe that’s not the best thing. Maybe I need to shut down a little.” The biggest trap that all performers and writers find is that when something really crazy, really bad happens, your mind immediately goes to “can I write about this?” — which is good and bad.
Can you single out other bizarre moments from the show that fall under stranger-than-fiction?
Micucci: For me, it was the Peter Pan Syndrome [a condition where adult is socially adolescent]. I had a therapist tell me I had it and that everyone who has it dies young, and that’s what happened to JFK. Like, “Are you kidding me?”
Lindhome: We had that episode that’s like the gig from hell, and all of it was based on real stuff.
So you really had a calculator magician as an opening act, a sound-guy quit mid-show, and a botched proposal?
Micucci: Yeah. The only thing that wasn’t real was the protester [a fan who sits outside the venue saying women shouldn’t be in comedy]. We consider him the voice of Twitter. He’s a human YouTube commenter.
How difficult was it to adjust to IFC’s rating? Because you can’t do a song like “The Loophole” [previously known as “Fuck Me in the Ass Because I Love Jesus”] when you’re TV-14…
Lindhome: That was the hardest part. We have so much very adult material and it’s hard to tone that down.
“BJ Stream of Consciousness” dealt with the female perspective of blowjobs. Was it written specifically for the show?
Lindhome: Yes. We spend so much time together that off-hand jokes just end up being songs.
Micucci: That was one where a conversation led to the idea.
Lindhome: It was just a glass of wine that kept going.
You probably shock some people doing “The Loophole” and the fellatio one, but do you ever get more of a backlash for topics like “Pregnant Women Are Smug”?
Lindhome: You will not believe the song that we got the strongest reaction to.
Micucci: It’s “Sports Go Sports.” That was by far the most negative reaction we’ve gotten to any of our songs. It was pretty funny when we realized that we got people hot with that song.
Lindhome: People were like, “Why are you picking on sports?!” We’re like, “What?!” We’re picking on sports in general and they took it so personally, like, “How dare you? I love sports.” Didn’t see that one coming.
When you had “Weird Al” on, the joke was that he felt your band name disrespected two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers. Do people get mad about that?
Lindhome: No, not at all. We just thought it would be funny because “Weird Al” is such a nice guy that we had to give him a mean role.
Micucci: And John Oates is a friend. He’s totally cool with it.
You also managed to get Sir Ben Kingsley for your first episode.
Micucci: He was super sweet. I was definitely nervous because it’s Ben Kingsley. I went to shake his hand and he gave me a big hug. He was so nice and really funny, too. He was just wonderful. And very dreamy.
Lindhome: He is mesmerizing. I agree.
With the season ending and not knowing what the future of the show is, what do you have planned for the immediate future?
Lindhome: I’m doing a Comedy Central show called Another Period [a Kardashian-like reality spoof set in the Victorian era] that Kate is actually in as well.
Micucci: That and finishing our new album.
Lindhome: And we have our tour, which is ongoing.
Micucci: We took the best tour horror stories for that one episode, but we’re on tour a lot.
Lindhome: We’ll probably be collecting a lot of them.