Garfunkel and Oates: Download Their Sweet New Comedy App
I found out this week that Garfunkel and Oates just put out a new iPhone app, and I’m mildly fascinated with it. I pay attention when people in the comedy world turn indie mobile app developer, because after all, I’m a person in the comedy world who has turned indie mobile app developer. (If you’re a comedian and haven’t yet downloaded my free app for iPhone & Android OPEN MIC LIST, you should join the thousands of your fellow funny folks around America who have.) So I checked their app out.
Here’s a video of me both a) checking out Garfunkel and Oates’ new app and b) needing a shower:
By the way, Garfunkel and Oates and I have never actually met in person (if you’re reading this, nice to sort of meet you, ladies). It turns out we’re socially connected through their and my comedy songwriting friend Alex Burke of Los Angeles jazzpop band Magnolia Memoir. He’s good people, and he tells me we’ve just missed each other on stage at Upright Citizens Brigade once or twice, and I know I’ve definitely been in a room or two where a friend pulled up a Garfunkel and Oates YouTube video during that point in hanging out with your friends when you’re finally just showing each other things on the internet. Their comedy is generally great for that sort of sharing environment, because their tunes online are basically somewhere between sketches, jingles, and music videos. They also accomplish the rarely-accomplished job of being both funny and pretty at the same time (which which also describes their app). Add that all up, and you’ve got something super shareable, which in real-world terms represents many millions of views of Garfunkle and Oates’ videos online.
Here’s some of what I think about their app, section by section:
VIDEOS: Pretty much what you’d imagine: a video section. This is a vertically scrolling listing of Garfunkel and Oates videos. I’m not sure if these are ‘app-only’ videos (which would be cool) or just an RSS of their YouTube channel (less cool but it’s a free app so I’m still down). I’m actually having trouble loading them over both 3g and WiFi as I’m writing this, but I trust others won’t have that problem.
PHOTOS: This section is a slideshow of four photos of both members of Garfunkel and Oates acting silly.
ON TOUR: This is an archive of their past shows (January through March? Hmm…), mirroring the one on their website. I’m not sure if they’re just not playing soon, or if they just haven’t gotten their no-doubt-impressive tour calendar posted up yet. Either way, when they do play shows, there’s now a convenient way to find out. Once you select a show on the calendar, an in-app browser opens up and takes to you an off-app ticketing page.
KAROAKE: This section is pretty obviously the most interesting feature of the app. Let’s suppose that you wanted to be Garfunkle and Oates. Or maybe let’s instead pretend that you wanted to get drunk after work and pretend you were Garfunkel and Oates. Now you can. This section let’s you piece through their albums and play voiceless versions. You can also check out the chords for each tune, or, cleverly, buy the song on iTunes. Frankly, more actual bands should be doing this. Well played.
UPDATES: This part’s basically a feed from their Twitter timeline, so do with that what you will.
So, with all that in mind:
Things I wish were different:
I wish the Garfunkel and Oates app asked me to allow push notifications when I first downloaded it. Normally I would decline push notifications on new apps for fear of them being annoying — but these two are comedians, trained in the art of tweet-sized messages worth reading. I’d be very curious to see how they might use the comparatively intimate push messaging system with their userbase/fanbase. You know how Marc Maron uses the intimacy of the podcasting environment (compared to radio, for example) to connect more ‘directly’ with listeners, making you forget at times that he’s not talking directly to you? I think Garfunkel and Oates, and any comedian with a mobile app, have a similar opportunity via other novel communications channels, push notifications being one. Maybe next time…
Things I really like:
The Garfunkel and Oates app appears to seamlessly integrate with their website and some of their social accounts, if only because the information is mostly the same, but highly optimized for my mobile experience (iPhone 4s). Or at least, at least I hope it’s run from their website for their sake — it would suck to have to input all of the shows, videos, and pictures twice each time for two user experiences. I know, I’ve done it. I appreciate that they’ve kept their comedy brand consistent across the platforms, and this app represents a great way for new (and younger) fans consume their comedy. This is smart move for Garfunkel and Oates:
Garfunkel and Oates’ audience will soon mostly be hearing them over mobile devices, so it’s a good idea for Garfunkel and Oates to be ready as their careers expand.
But who the fuck am I, right? Go download it yourself. You play enough Temple Run to completely ignore indie comics like Garfunkel and Oates.