Garfunkel and Oates is a Netflix comedy show in which the comedy-folk-music duo Garfunkel and Oates play a ukulele, a guitar, and fictional versions of themselves.
The comparison to Flight of the Conchords is inevitable, accurate, and highly complementary. Good musical comedy is always impressive in its own right – so many so-called musical comedians simply strum a few chords along to some subpar jokes and receive applause breaks because audiences are conditioned to clap after songs. This is not the case with Garfunkel and Oates. Their songs blend surrealism, satire, and sharp writing, much like the aforementioned kiwis.
They do differ though. While the Conchords are in a band, G&O are touring comedians, which allows for a lot more deconstruction of their material and comments on the comedy industry. For example, in the second episode, the porn actresses / imitators Garfinger and Butts explain the formula of musical comedy to our heroes. It’s a startlingly accurate peek behind the magician’s curtain, but doesn’t detract from your enjoyment of the songs.
It shouldn’t be so rare to have a comedy show with female protagonists who seem like real people. As this is something that I should be able to simply take for granted, I’m going to use this opportunity to criticise the rest of the media instead: guys, look how easy it is. Women are people and therefore have the ability to be amusing without fitting into the dull stereotypes of dumb-blonde, psycho-bitch, fat-one, or nympho. It’s particularly satisfying that Garfunkel and Oates do a great job of satirising the whole ‘women in comedy’ thing in the episode ‘Road Warriors’ in which they argue with a protestor who claims that women cannot be funny.
No one can possibly watch Garfunkel and Oates and still claim that women aren’t funny. If it doesn’t get a second series, it will be a travesty.
Recommendations in brief:
The Jimmy Carr episodes of The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast is really good. While he isn’t my favourite comedian (which sounds nasty, but I just mean that I like him, and laugh at his jokes, but he isn’t my favourite) his deeply analytical approach to stand-up is fascinating.
Isy Suttie’s new podcast The Things We Do For Love is charming and wonderful. It fits in with the optimistic whimsy (in a good way) corner of British comedy, alongside Kitson and Josie Long. While you’re at it, you ought to listen to Isy on Distraction Pieces too.
I’ve heard great things about the new Radiohead album.