Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome.
Photo-Illustration: by Vulture; Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images for Waterkeeper Alliance
There has always been a childlike sense of innocence and wonder to Kate Miccuci and Riki Lindhome’s comedy folk duo Garfunkel and Oates that only made what they sang about — the inability to give hand jobs, the smugness of pregnant women — that much funnier. That contrast reaches its maximum with their biggest song, 2013’s “The Loophole,” a song about young Christians who view anal sex as a virginity work-around. The song, which appeared on the groups last album, 2015’s Secretions, has recently become the center of a TikTok trend, where teenagers play it for the first time to unsuspecting parents.
What happens when the duo takes that playful spirit and actually tries to make music for children? Netflix’s Waffles & Mochi, the Obama-produced, healthy-eating kids’ show, for which the duo penned songs about tomatoes and umami, is just a preview for what’s to come. The streaming service recently announced that the duo is co-writing an animated musical.
On Vulture’s Good One podcast, Micucci and Lindhome talk about “The Loophole,” their long-in-the-works move to writing music for kids, and being comedy partners. You can read an excerpt from the transcript or listen to the full episode below. Tune in to Good One every Thursday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Riki Lindhome: Oh my gosh. I think we were in Ireland, right?
Kate Micucci: We were in Ireland. Both of us grew up in small towns, and we had known of this thing that people do. We were really just talking about it and then we were like, “Oh gosh, that sounds like a song.”
RL: I was obsessed with doing it, and I started writing lyrics and stuff.
KM: I was just like, I don’t think I can sing about this. This seems to me like it is crossing the line for me. It was me just being really uncomfortable with the whole idea of singing, you know? Riki came up with the phrase.
RL: “Fuck me in the ass because I love Jesus.”
KM: It made me laugh. I fell over going, “Yes, this is so good.” But I just personally wasn’t ready to sing about it. And Riki was really very cool about that and respected my being uncomfortable with it. And so we just …
RL: Sat on it. I would like to bring it up a little bit, but Kate is good with boundaries. She’s very firm. And when it’s not happening, it’s not happening, so there’s no point fighting it. I’d be like, “Is there any other …” And she’d be like, “Nope, nope, nope.” And then it was like a year, a full year later …
KM: It was about a year later. I remember just all of these things were brewing. I thought maybe I’d have this one job and another thing. I think I was worried for a lot of reasons, like disappointing family or whatever. I felt like I had a lot of worry about singing this, and then I just hit a point where I was like, Who cares?
RL: You told me in person. We were on that walk. It was like, “I have something to tell you.” I was like, “What, are you pregnant? What’s going on?” “I’m ready to do ‘The Loophole.’”
KM: The timing had to be right, but I really appreciate it. Riki, thank you again for being patient with me. I don’t actually think I ever said that to you just with the way things unfolded.
KM: When we made this video, I remember we were on such a high. Everybody who was a part of it, everyone on the crew, everything about it was magical.
RL: Except remember when we shot it?
KM: It was my birthday, which was Easter.
RL: And we needed to get a church and a school on Easter weekend that would let us sing about anal. And we were like, “We’re not going to find this.” So we brainstormed, and then I was like, “Wait, I know who has a school and a church — porn sets!” So, we called around the valley asking porn places, “Do you have these standing sets?” And they’re just cheaper to use. So we went and rented out a porn studio, and we had a church and a school.
When we went to do the location scout, we get there and they were shooting a Sir Mix-a-Lot porn. There was a white screen and it’s painted with clouds and there’s two big butts. We were like, Oh my God. And we asked, “What are they doing with the butts when they’re done?” And they were like, “Doing nothing. They’re going to throw them out. I think they’re going to be, you know, unusable.” They just left them there. So we had this stage that was painted with clouds, with two big butts.
KM: Overall, I feel like it’s maybe our best comedy song. I really am so proud of it, but then after the video came out, my family was not happy.
RL: I think your mom defriended us on Facebook.
KM: Yeah, that wasn’t good.
RL: And they called Kate and said, “If you don’t take this down, your career is going to be over. You’ll never work for Disney.” And, since, Kate’s worked on like seven cartoons for Disney.
KM: Yeah, but it was, you know, all the things I was worried about. And it was a really hard time, honestly. Like, I got really depressed after the video came out, and it was really not good. But, you know, it got me into therapy. It was just something that I had to work through, and it all turned out just fine. And I think that that was a good thing.
RL: In 2010, we were like, We want to write soundtracks for animated movies, and we want to write Broadway musicals. That’s our next move. We’re going to do comedy, and it’s going to lead us into that!” We were hoping those doors would open, and they did a teeny bit, but not at the level that we were hoping. It did feel like a lot of our male counterparts were getting at least the meetings to write full soundtracks of these movies. We didn’t get those meetings, but we did get in the pool of people who could submit songs. They’ll be like, “Hey, we need to write a song about a peanut getting married, and it’s got to be reggae.” You just do it on spec. And then if your song ends up in the movie, you get a song in the movie. We did that for a really long time, and some of our things ended up in movies and some didn’t. Or we would be in the final cut until three weeks before. It felt like the return wasn’t really matching the effort, because we were producing these full songs over and over and they weren’t really sticking. So, we’re like, We just have to write our own animated movie if we want to actually do a soundtrack. And so that’s what we did with Steps.
The press release said that it was Cinderella’s stepsisters, but it’s not. It’s a fictional character named Isadora, and it’s her stepsisters. Isadora is chosen by the prince, and then it’s basically what happens when the prince doesn’t pick you. It’s about how these people have to actualize themselves and become real human beings. I feel like the message that I wish I had seen when I was little, that I wanted to put in this movie, is that other women are not the enemy — the idea that there’s only one princess, there’s only one spot, there’s one person. It’s a myth perpetuated to keep us down. And not only are we not each other’s enemy, we’re each other’s salvation. We’re the only way to get out of the trap that is to be not running things. You’re in a system that’s designed for you to fail, and the only way out is with each other. It makes it sound really boring, but that is underneath a funny story. There’s a lot of fun songs. Like half comedy, half not-comedy.
At first, my instinct was for simplicity. I remember reading Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling uses simple words in a cool way. I’m like, Oh, I want to do that. I want to use words that kids understand. I know that’s not the best reference, but that was what I was looking at at the time. But then when we started writing songs, we had a new philosophy on it because of Hamilton. You see 3-year-olds know every word to “Alexander Hamilton,” and we realized we were thinking too small as far as the things that kids can sing along to. If they know all the words to “My Shot,” then we’ve been underestimating the audience. Now when we write kids’ songs, we’re less afraid of using bigger words or weird rhymes or talking too fast. Hamilton threw that out the window for us.