comics talk to comics

Tig Notaro Talks to Garfunkel and Oates About Their Show and Santa Claus

Riki Lindhome, Kate Micucci, Chris Hardwick, Sugar Lyn Beard, Abby Elliott, and Tig Notaro - Photo Credit: Darren Michaels, SMPSP / IFC
Garfunkel and Oates Season 1 Photo: Darren Michaels/IFC

Riki Lindhome and Kate Micucci, who have been honing their musical comedy act for years, are hilarious enough as the titular characters in Garfunkel and Oates, which premiered last week on IFC. But because you can’t have too much of a good thing, they also have many of their very funny friends pop up every episode. Tonight’s features the one and only Tig Notaro. Vulture got Tig to talk to Lindhome (Garfunkel, the blonde) and Micucci (Oates, the brunette), who are gearing up for their Monster Energy Outbreak tour, which kicks off on August 22, about the TV show, their unexpected influences, and Santa (so much Santa).

Tig Notaro: Where are you guys?
Riki Lindhome: I am in my office.

Kate Micucci: In my kitchen, in my robe.

RL: Yours is better.

KM: Where are you, Tig?

I am at home in cutoff blue-jean shorts and a Bob Dylan T-shirt.
KM: Nice. Are you in your new home or your old home?

I am in my old home, and I move to my new home next week.
RL: That is crazy!

It’s pretty exciting. But right now, my main priority is interviewing Garfunkel and Oates. When does the show air? This Thursday?
KM: Tonight.

RL: At 10:00 p.m.

Oh, tonight! Oh, my goodness!
RL: You’re so funny in it.

Was there a scene or episode that didn’t make it in that you didn’t have time to do or the network was like, “We are not doing that, kid”?
RL: Well, we did write an episode where Kate and I were not the main characters, and they did not think that was a good idea.

You two were not the main characters?
RL: It was going to be late in the season, and it was based on another person in another city, and then she comes to L.A. and we’re peripheral characters.

KM: It would’ve been a really cool one. Also, our show is TV-14, so a lot of our songs or jokes were not allowed because of the content. Which I guess is understandable.

What is TV-14?
RL: The equivalent of PG-13 in a movie. You can’t swear or show explicit sexual content.

KM: No nudity.

Were you trying to show explicit sexual content or nudity?
RL: We wanted to, yeah. We wanted to do all that stuff, but it was not to be. So now we get to do other stuff! We have a puppet video, that kind of thing.

KM: I think not being allowed to do certain things allowed us to do other things that we’d never have thought of.

People ask what my influences are, and for me, it’s not always obvious. One of my biggest inspirations was Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders. That’s based on how she just does whatever she wants to do, and I love her attitude about everything. It bleeds over into my way of thinking and comedy. I’m curious what influences you have that aren’t obvious. 
RL: Well, I think we’re both really into musicals. I’m also really into Eminem. I kind of copy his way of rhyming things. Or I try to. He’s way better at it than me.

KM: Riki has a painting in her apartment of her and Eminem.

What about you, Kate?
KM: I guess one that wouldn’t be obvious is — well, maybe it’s super obvious, I can’t tell — I Love Lucy is my favorite show, going back to when I was 4. I’ve watched every episode I don’t know how many times. It was something to watch women being funny when I was young.

RL: And also Mister Rogers for you.

KM: Oh, yeah, that’s true.

So Garfunkel and Oates is basically Eminem and I Love Lucy coming together, with some Mister Rogers?
KM: Yeah, if the three of them got together and decided to write a dirty song, that’s what it would be.

Whom would you like to get to be on the show, dead or alive, for next season?
RL: If I could get anyone on our show, who would it be, Kate?

KM: Oprah, right? You would want Oprah.

RL: Yeah, it’d be Oprah.

KM: I would have Sandra Bullock be her character from While You Were Sleeping.

What’s that? What’s her character?
KM: She’s just, you know, a girl who works in a tollbooth, looking for love.

Oh, sure. And what about dead people?
KM: Nelson Mandela?

RL: Oh. I’d like to have him on the show.

KM: That might have people tuning in.

RL: I would like to sing a song on my couch with him. That would be fun.

KM: I’m gonna have to think on this.

RL: What about Lucille Ball, Kate?

KM: Either Lucille Ball or Judy Garland. I kind of think Judy Garland, because she could really take our songs to another level.

RL: I would like to have her singing “Fuck Me in the Ass Because I Love Jesus.”

And do you want Judy Garland as a child or as an adult?
KM: I’m thinking Judy in the early ‘60s, when she was in her 40s.

That’s when she was on her way out, right?
KM: Yeah, she was 47, I believe, when she passed away.

RL: How do you know that?

KM: I know a lot about Judy Garland. She was born in 1922, and I think she died in ’69.

How do you know this?
KM: When I was little, like when I was 8, I knew all of her husbands’ names.

RL: Yeah, Kate used to read People magazine as a child.

KM: I knew way too much about Judy because I loved Wizard of Oz. She was the first time I realized there were actors. There was another Judy Garland movie on TV and it wasn’t The Wizard of Oz, and I was so confused. I was like, “Wait a second, what is Dorothy doing in this movie?” And that’s when I became fascinated. I didn’t realize there were actors.

RL: You didn’t? You thought it was real?

KM: I just thought The Wizard of Oz was like, yeah, yeah, I guess I must’ve thought it was real.

You thought it was a documentary.
KM: Yeah, about masonry and, I don’t know. I also believed in Santa until way too late.

How late?
KM: I was 11.

RL: Wow! That’s really late

KM: I was fighting it.

RL: Nobody told you?

KM: People told me. I just was like, “No, you’re wrong. What about Yes, Virginia There Is a Santa Claus? Why would the man from the newspaper write such a thing? He wouldn’t lie.”

You have a point there. How did you finally figure it out?
KM: I was at a Christmas party and all the older relatives were talking about being Santa for the younger ones, and I was in the room, and they’re like, “Oh, Katie knows,” and I was like, “Oh, yeah, I guess I do.”

RL: You never asked your parents?

KM: I was afraid to ask. I was afraid for the answer.

RL: ‘Cause you knew the answer, that’s why.

KM: Deep down, I knew the answer.

RL: I do like your willful ignorance of the truth, though.

KM: Yeah, that stays with me to this day.

I knew there was no Santa when I was like 5.
RL: I remember showing my older brother. I think I was maybe 6 or 7. But I was pissed.

KM: [Laughs.]

RL: I was mad about it.

KM: I can see you getting really angry about that. That’s funny.

RL: I told my parents I didn’t know if I could trust them again.

Well, it is that bizarre thing. If I had kids, I, of course, would tell them there’s Santa, but it’s also just an odd feeling to be blatantly lying to kids. “There’s a strange fat man that comes in …”
Yeah, my mom said, “Santa is a feeling you have in your heart,” and I’m like, “So he’s not a person! I don’t know if I can trust you anymore.”

I was always told that there were elves jumping around on the Christmas tree from branch to branch while we’d be sitting around.
RL: Invisible elves?

Well, they were visible, but of course, every time I looked away, I missed them.
KM: Aw, that’s so funny and so mean.

We’re doing a Christmas interview because this is gonna come out in December, right?
[They all laugh.]

Is there a song that you guys are working on that is exciting and you can’t quite get all the lyrics down?
RL: We’re trying to write a song about freezing our eggs.

That sounds catchy.
RL: We don’t know what the hook is, exactly. We’ve been working on it, though. We’ve been trying.

KM: In the show, Riki freezes her eggs. This is good to mention. I think we’re actually the first TV show that shows the process.

Uh, they didn’t show that on I Love Lucy?
KM: [Laughs.] They couldn’t even say the word pregnant.

RL: It’s so weird how much sexism was in that show. I saw an episode where she gets spanked for disobeying her husband. On the show!

KM: Oh, yeah. That’s weird.

She got what?
RL: Spanked for disobeying her husband.

He spanked her?
KM: Yeah, he would put her over his knee and spank her.

RL: That is not that long ago. That is so crazy. It really put me off I Love Lucy.

KM: Oh, it’s so good, though.

RL: I tried to watch it because of Kate, and that was the first episode I saw, and I was like, Oooooh.

Not that I’m condoning spanking your wife for disobeying you, but what was the humorous angle there?
RL: It was like, “Oooh, I don’t want to get a spanking!” And he was like, “Well, you’re going to!” “Oh, no, no!” You know?

And 4-year-old Kate is just kicked back, cackling.
KM: [Laughs.] Totally, totally.

That’s hilarious.
RL: Did you think it was a documentary?

KM: No, I knew it was a TV show.

I don’t know why I was onto Santa Claus, but I wasn’t onto peeking into people’s lives and there being a laugh track. It seemed to make sense to me that I could turn my TV on and see into people’s lives. Maybe that’s what’s going to happen to some kids around the country when they’re watching Garfunkel and Oates.
RL: Oh, my gosh. I think if a 4-year-old watches, I’ll be pretty scared.

KM: Uh, that’d be so sad. I think that’s also why it feels so extra weird that it’s coming out, because it is our lives and it’s based on us. It’s exaggerated in places and it’s not all truthful, but it’s still Riki and Kate, and that’s so weird.

Yeah, I’m sure. What’s a for-sure, true thing and a for-sure, made-up thing that could be either/or? That’s realistic enough that people wouldn’t know?
RL: In the episode you’re in, we meet our porn equivalents. We meet the girls who play us in the Garfunkel and Oates porn. So, that’s never happened. But it could.

KM: Yet! We’re still waiting. We’re still hoping.

Yeah, I think there’s a porn version of me out there.
RL: Is there?

RL: Also, we have a gig on the road in episode four. And almost everything happened in reality.

KM: It’s just the gig from Hell, and all of that stuff has happened to us.

RL: We have a sound guy who quits in the middle. We have an opener who is a calculator magician. A guy proposes to a girl in the middle of our show.

Wait, this was all at one show?
RL: No. We took all the weird things that happened at different shows and put them into one episode.

I was there at that one show where the guy proposed to a girl. That was at Largo, right?
RL: Yeah, you opened for us. 

I was there.
RL: Well, I wouldn’t call you our opener.

Yeah, let’s take Riki calling me an opener off the record.
[Both laugh.]

I think our interview time is wrapped up now.
RL: Thank you so much for doing this.

KM: We love you, Tig!

RL: We think you’re so awesome.

You guys are awesome. Thanks for having me. I’ll be at Largo on Thursday, September 18th with a very, very, very special guest.
RL: Oooooh … I will definitely be there. I’m going to come watch.

KM: Oh, yeah. I’ll come, too!

TN: Great. Well, Garfunkel & Oates will be in the audience.
RL: Absolutely.

KM: I’m putting it in my calendar right now.

Tig Notaro Talks to Garfunkel and Oates