Quick Answer: Garfunkel and Oates have been recording quirky folk-comedy music for nearly a decade, pulling their name from the "lesser-halves" of two legendary music duos.
Long before Garfunkel & Oates (2014) became an IFC television series, Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome started their folk musical comedy act in Los Angeles. The two have been performing music together for nearly a decade. According to the girls, they named their group after “two famous rock-and-roll second bananas,” a reference in jest of their own simple brand of quirky folk songwriting and niche appeal. With the name, their comedy starts before a note of their music is heard, colored by the way they identify with two of rock and roll’s “lesser-halves.” Lindhome performs as “Garfunkel” and Micucci is “Oates.”
Kate Micucci and Riki Lindhome
For the somehow uninitiated, Art Garfunkel is the latter half of Simon and Garfunkel, a folk rock duo who became counterculture icons in the 1960s and stand as one of the best-selling groups of the decade. Their biggest hits include “The Sound of Silence,” “The Boxer,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “I Am a Rock” and “Mrs. Robinson.” Unlike the relationship between Micucci and Lindhome, Simon and Garfunkel often quarreled over artistic decisions and ultimately broke up because of their tumultuous relationship. Paul Simon’s prominence as a musician has hardly waned since, while Garfunkel’s crashed in the 1980s, never undergoing a true resurgence.
John Oates is the latter half of Hall and Oates, the Philadelphia-based duo who were hugely popular in the late 1970s and 1980s. The pair's sound fused rock and roll with R&B to produce a successful and super marketable brand of music. Their hits are numerous, including "Rich Girl," "Kiss on My List," "Private Eyes," "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)," "Maneater" and "Out of Touch.” As Daryl Hall was the frontman, primary songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and lead singer of the group, John Oates (though also a multi-instrumentalist and co-writer), primarily played guitar and provided backing vocals on their tracks.
Micucci and Lindhome grew up a few hours from one another in Pennsylvania but were introduced at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Los Angeles by comedian Doug Benson, known for his Comedy Central specials, podcasts, and films like Super High Me (2007). As working actors regularly guest starring in roles on major television series, acting became a platform for Kate and Riki's exposure. Their music quickly found its way into popular series, particularly via Micucci’s role on Scrubs (2001 - 2010). From there, fans became intrigued by the quirky tunes and their songs started to establish a following of their own in short order, enjoyed independently of the duo’s acting careers.
In a Reddit AMA, the duo was asked if Art Garfunkel or John Oates had ever contacted them about the name. Micucci revealed that in 2009, a little over a year after they started performing with that moniker, John Oates sent her a message through MySpace. Micucci said, “He was totally cool with us using his name as long as we offered him a beer when he came to our shows. And then he asked if we would want to open for him. We were seriously jumping up and down, [we were] so excited. So we opened for John when he did a solo show near L.A. I think his audience was a little confused or shocked by us. But the highlight of the show for us was playing Maneater with John. I played a trombone solo during it while Riki did a strip tease. She stripped from one modest dress to another. John has probably played that song a zillion times. But I think that was the first time he sang it while a trombone solo and strip tease were happening simultaneously. John has been a great friend to us. Last time we played Nashville he even helped Riki pick out a new guitar.”
She also said John Oates really needs to grow back his iconic mustache.
As entertainers, both Micucci and Lindhome continue to perform live and record albums as Garfunkel and Oates and act in films and on television. Their series on IFC ran for one season and combined the comedy of their songs with narrative storytelling.