Female comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates named themselves for two of rock ’n’ roll’s great second bananas and made their name the way many musicians do — on YouTube. They shot videos for such songs as “Pregnant Women are Smug” and “The College Try,” each built on the comic tension between their sweet dispositions and the complicated world they live in.
Those videos helped persuade the IFC Channel to air Garfunkel and Oates’ self-titled television show late this summer. So far, there hasn’t been word on whether it will be picked up for a second season. When they play The House of Blues Saturday night, it will be on their first tour since the show debuted.
“We jumped into touring during the airing of the show,” Micucci said by phone. “The biggest difference is that many people ... found us through the TV show.”
Comic actresses Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci wrote funny songs on their own until comedian Doug Benson introduced them one night in 2008 at a show in Los Angeles.
“We were both on kind of bad dates, and at least I was looking for an escape,” Micucci told Under the Radar. “So running into Riki I was like, ‘Oh hey I know you.’”
They began writing together for a short film project Lindhome was making, “Imaginary Larry,” then started performing the next year. The videos started not as a career move but as a way to keep Lindhome’s parents abreast of the short’s progress.
“I put the videos up online so that they could see the music things I was making,” she said.
“Without the videos, we probably would never have performed live,” Micucci said.
The name suits their comedy, as neither performs as somebody born with a Jagger-like lust for the spotlight.
Lindhome’s nerdy sweetness makes her seem comically over her head much of the time., and it’s easy to imagine the doe-eyed Micucci blushing herself into a coma after some of their videos.
Micucci admits that some of their songs have taken longer for her to get comfortable with.
“Most of the time we’re on the same page, but there’s a song we have called ‘The Loophole,’ and it took me a year for me to say, ‘OK, I’m ready to write this one,’” she said. She found the the idea of examining the scriptural escape clause that allows Catholic girls to be sexual while remaining virginal a little racy, and it took a while for her to feel like she was ready to sing about it.
“Most of the time it’s not a comfort thing, “ Lindhome said. “Usually it’s a comedy thing. If it’s just not funny, then let’s not do it.”
“Of the two of us, I’m usually a little slower to figure things out in general,” Micucci said. “Even with Garfunkel and Oates. It me longer to figure out, ‘Oh, this is really something.’”
Garfunkel and Oates have yet to hear from Art Garfunkel, but they’ve become friends with Daryl Hall’s musical sidekick, John Oates. He helped Lindhome buy a guitar and made a guest appearance on their show as a porn store clerk.
Since they relied on other comedians and talented people to help get around budgetary limitations on their videos, they were used to working with cool friends.
Other situations that came up on the television show required bigger adjustments.
“All the stuff we did before the show was on our own, but a TV show is a big group effort,” Lindhome said. “Learning to work as a team was different for us.”
Suddenly, additional writers, directors and other creative people had a hand in their process as they told stories rooted in their lives.
“It took a while to adjust to it. We’d be like, ‘It didn’t happen that way.’”
Micucci takes pride that despite that, “Garfunkel and Oates” is consistent with what she considers the hallmark of their comedy.
“In our songs, we try to be honest and truthful, and the same goes for the TV show,” she said.
Alex Rawls writes about music in New Orleans. He can be reached at MySpiltMilk.com.