You may not know the name, but if you’ve been watching TV or movies in the past few years, you’ve certainly seen Kate Micucci. Whether it was her run on Scrubs, When in Rome, or Garfunkel & Oates (Kate’s band), there is a good chance you’ve wondered who is behind such a familiar face. I had a chance to speak with Kate about her background, dream projects and future in show business. We started at the beginning…
I’ve read from other articles that you were born in New Jersey, lived in Pennsylvania, and then moved to Los Angeles. Can you describe your life after moving to Los Angeles?
I moved to Pennsylvania when I was 8 and had a very sheltered life. I lived in a bubble pretty much until I moved to California. However, I did live in Hawaii for three months, and that’s when I realized, Why don’t I live in a place with palm trees and water? I woke up one morning in Hawaii and I had this strong feeling that I should go to school at Loyola Marymount University…so that’s what I did. When I was there, I still was very sheltered. I was in a big city without a car so I skateboarded everywhere. I had never dated. I had to do my own grocery shopping for the first time. Had to learn to do my own laundry. I was such a baby when I moved out here, so I had to learn all of these things really fast. I had a lot of experiences where I looked back and thought Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t get myself into more trouble. I was so naive. I just thought everyone was a good person.
So how did you get from there to appearing in sitcoms, movies and commercials?
I moved out here for school, majoring in art. Secretly, I wanted to act, but I could barely admit it to myself. So I did a lot of babysitting and I taught piano, which is how I got by after graduating. I also was a sandcastle building instructor. I made an okay living doing that, but one day I decided that I wanted to try commercials, because at the time it was my dream – maybe still is – to be in an Olive Garden commercial. I thought Oh, I’m Italian! That would be perfect! I met with a commercial casting director and pretty quickly did a lot of commercials. All the while, I was still teaching piano which was really fun. At the time it seemed kind of easy. All I could think was Why doesn’t everyone come to Los Angeles to do commercials? It’s the best job ever. You just go on an audition and they say “we’ll just put you in this!”. Later on, I realized that it can be difficult. That first lucky streak came to an end. After that year, I thought it would be cool to try to be on a TV show. So I got a theatrical agent and after a few weeks, I landed a co-starring role on a sitcom, which was awesome.
When did you land your first co-starring role in a sitcom?
That was in the fall of 2005. It was my dream to be on a sitcom. At that point, that was all I wanted to do. I had a couple of lines as a girl in a coffee shop for a new show called Four Kings. Luckily for me, they decided to stay in the coffee shop. I did about a half of their season, but the show was canceled after a few episodes. It’s sad because it was a very sweet show, very cute. It was a great first experience.
And from then, you began to day-play on sitcoms?
Yeah. From there, I just kept doing commercials and guest spots here and there…like on Malcolm in the Middle and How I Met Your Mother. I did a Disney show called Corey in the House, which was cool because I was still teaching piano, so I brought all of my piano students to the taping of that, which I’ll never forget – they thought it was the coolest thing ever. Those Disney tapings are REALLY fun, because it’s the most enthusiastic crowd you could ever ask for.
That’s great! So you did a bunch of day-playing, had a recurring role on Scrubs, and then an even bigger role on ‘Til Death. What was it like to go from day-playing to becoming a recurring character on sitcoms?
It’s a nice progression. Scrubs was amazing, because that role was written for me. I got to play my ukulele, which was great. It’s rare having someone say “Hey! This is for you! Go for it!” I did about 4 or 5 episodes of Scrubs, which was amazing. The Scrubs fans are incredible. I still get letters from fans from all over – Russia, all over the place. ‘Til Death was also awesome. I started as a waitress on one episode and then they kept me for the rest of the season as the daughter on the show. I had such a great time on ‘Til Death. My character was pregnant and eventually give birth, which was exciting, terrifying and super fun.
So you went from being a sheltered girl to who has never done anything before to giving birth on television to a fake baby.
Yeah! I went from not knowing how to make my own bed to all of that.
What does your family think of your success? Did they have any idea it would turn into what it has become?
I didn’t really know how it was going to go. I never told anybody my plan, not that I even really had one. I started doing commercials and I remember my mom saying, “So, I guess you’re acting now, huh?”. They get excited. I just went home to be the Grand Marshall at the kazoo parade in Nazareth, PA. The town made a big deal of it, which was really sweet – my parents were very excited about it. They marched in the parade with me. The dog and the entire family was with me. It was really cute.
That’s great! So, what would you as a child think of you now?
It’s funny because I still feel connected to who I was as a kid, which I feel fortunate for. I’m doing what I secretly always wanted to do. I always wrote and played music. I was in plays. I made movies with my brother in the backyard. I played classical piano at a very young age. I would have to memorize my piano pieces. I would play them with my eyes closed and move my head around like Stevie Wonder. It was something I did at family get-togethers: Stevie Wonder plays Haydn or Stevie Wonder plays Beethoven. I don’t know…I guess that myself as a child would be pretty happy with who I am as an adult. My childhood is influential to me now. I actually wrote a song a few weeks ago about this time when my father took me, my brother and our cousins into the woods during a snow-storm to cook soup. The song makes me cry. When I first performed it, people in the audience cried, which is ironic because it was at a comedy show. But cooking soup in the woods, it is a happy memory – really sweet. I’m really lucky that I had such a fun time growing up – and I put all of that into what I’m making now.
Speaking of music, it would be irresponsible for me to not mention Garfunkel & Oates. You’ve been acting steadily lately – how do you find the time for Garfunkel & Oates?
This past week, Riki [Lindhome] and I were both working on TV shows. Today, for example, I am going into the studio for Garfunkel & Oates. Whenever we have free time, we just make it happen. Our main job is acting, so Riki and I decided early on that acting jobs come first and Garfunkel & Oates is second. But now it seems those two things are starting to merge. We’re figuring it out along the way, but whenever we have spare time, we’re in a studio, writing or planning for something.
Are you currently recording an album?
Yes. We are, right now, in the process of making a full-length album. It’s cool – we’re doing it on our own, so it takes a while, but we’re learning a lot in the process. I’m pretty excited to get it out there. On top of that, I’m also working on a solo-album, so I’ve been jumping around to different studios every week – sometimes every day. A couple of weeks ago, I was in three different studios in one day. To me, that’s a good day.
Connecting G&O with your experience with television, do you suppose there will be a merge in the way that Tenacious D and Flight of the Conchords have done in the past?
I think that’s the hope, and hopefully very soon, we I will be able to tell you more about what’s happening with that. It’s definitely in the works, I should say. Hopefully, it’s something to be excited about. I’m excited!
I’m excited about it, too!
Hopefully, we can announce something really awesome really soon!
You said that you secretly always wanted to be in a sitcom. If you could be in any sitcom (past, present, or even a future sitcom not even invented yet), what would you want to be in?
Oh man, it would have to be I Love Lucy. It’s by far my favorite show ever – I’ve seen all of the episodes many times. Ever since I was a little kid I’ve loved that show. I think it’s a family thing – my brother loves it, my cousins love it. Plus, it was such a new medium at the time. They were groundbreaking in that they made the sitcom. They put three cameras together. I’m also nostalgic for the 90s. I was around in the 90s, but I wasn’t really aware. I wasn’t cool and I didn’t know what was going on. When Friends came out, I liked it, but I watch Friends episodes now and think those actors are amazing. So maybe to go back and be in an episode of Friends would be pretty freaking cool, too. I’d like to go back to the 90s for a day. I definitely own enough flannel.
What kind of character do you think you would play on I Love Lucy?
I often play the odd character role, but nothing is more wacky than Lucy so I don’t know what I would be – I guess I’d be some sort of straight-man in that episode. Who knows…maybe I’d be in Ricky’s band or something.
Perhaps a babalu groupie?
Yeah, I’d ask Ricky to sign my bongos! Ooh – that sounds wrong! (Laughs)
Is there anything you can tell us about your future plans?
Well, hopefully we’ll have something to talk about regarding Garfunkel & Oates really soon. I’m just auditioning for whatever comes around. I would LOVE to do another movie. It’s funny to say, because seriously, wouldn’t everybody? That would be the goal, but the immediate priority is getting my album and the Garfunkel & Oates album out. My live shows are also a big part of my life…touring and playing at random places. Keeping it all going is still the goal. I am happy as long as I’m making cool stuff.
Kate Micucci has an ongoing show at the Steve Allen theater called “Playin’ With Micucci”, which will be back on October 18th after a brief hiatus. Garfunkel & Oates performs regularly at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles.
Follow Kate and ‘Garfunkel & Oates’ on Twitter!!! @KateMicucci – @GarfunkelOates