THE LAUREL & HARDY OF MUSIC
A Spotlite on the Band NANCY & BETH Featuring MEGAN MULLALLY & STEPHANIE HUNT
By Tyler Malone
Just the other day, Nancy & Beth–a music duo featuring actresses Megan Mullally (Will & Grace and Children’s Hospital) and Stephanie Hunt (Friday Night Lights and How To Live With Your Parents For the Rest of Your Life)–released a video on Funny or Die of them singing a folksy rendition of Riskay’s infamous infidelity-themed rap song “Smell Yo Dick.” Their performance features a special guest appearance by Megan’s husband, and star of Parks and Rec, Nick Offerman. The video went viral, and threw their band into the spotlight. Though they don’t have an album yet, you can find performances of a number of their songs on the internet.
I spoke with them on the phone a few days after the video went viral. When I asked them who they’d want to play them in a future biopic, after saying a couple other people first, they settled on Laurel & Hardy–which works because their music has the perfect mix of comedy and pathos.
Tyler Malone: First why don’t you start by telling me about how Nancy & Beth got started.
Megan Mullally: Well, Stephanie and I, and a guy named Nick Offerman, whom you might know from Parks and Rec, all filmed a movie in Austin the Summer before last, called Somebody Up There Likes Me. It’s getting ready to be released actually at the beginning of April by Tribeca Films. Nick had a starring role, Stephanie had a good supporting role, and I had a little tiny cameo in it. So Stephanie and I just started palling around a lot because I had a lot of extra time on my hands, and she was just showing me around. We both like going vintage clothes shopping, so we did a lot of that. She had mentioned to me that she wrote songs and played the ukulele, and I had been saying I wanted to hear her stuff. Then after filming ended, right as we were getting ready to leave, she sat down and said, “Okay, I’ll sing, but you have to sing part of it with me.” So we started singing together and we were like, “Wait, what?”
Stephanie Hunt: Yeah, I was privy to the fact that Megan has an angelic voice, and I just knew our voices would work together, but I just didn’t know how well.
TM: Who would you say are your musical influences?
MM: I feel like we both have such a big range. Stephanie grew up listening to a lot of old music, so I’ll just randomly pick some weird song from the ’60s, thinking there’s no way she’ll know it, and she always does. She knows everything.
SH: We love like girl groups, but also ballads, folk music, rock ‘n’ roll, blues. We like to celebrate all kinds of music from the roots up.
TM: I liked your performance of “I Don’t Hurt Anymore” and “Jack, You’re Dead” on Conan. Do you have a favorite song that you guys perform?
SH: It’s like Sophie’s Choice. I dunno, they are all pretty fun.
MM: We definitely have our favorites, I suppose. But our favorites keep evolving and changing.
TM: I know you two have made a joke out of refusing to say who might be Nancy and who might be Beth, so I won’t ask that. But I am curious how the band name came about?
MM: If I recall correctly, we were talking about a bunch of names at dinner with Nick. That night or the next day, I wrote all of those down and sent them to Stephanie. I didn’t put them in any order, so she didn’t know which was my favorite. But my favorite was Nancy & Beth. She emailed me back right away that her favorite was Nancy & Beth.
SH: So it’s just meant to be, you know?
TM: What was the impetus behind the cover of “Smell Yo Dick”?
MM: I was doing another indie movie this last Summer called Kings of Summer, and the guy who was playing my husband came to see us twice at Largo. He loved our band, and he suggested we cover that song. It’s funny because he’s a really funny guy, an incredible comedy improviser, but he kind of looks like an accountant. I wasn’t really expecting him to recommend a song like that. I had my assistant copy out the lyrics for us, and he’s a Christian, and it almost killed him. He was really crushed by it.
SH: But once we got the lyrics, we were sitting on my bed, and the second we started singing it, we were dying.
MM: And that video, that’s the first and only time we’ve performed that song.
TM: Oh really? Wow, I didn’t know that.
SH: Yeah, we were a little worried because it was our first time, because we thought maybe we could have done it better. But it actually turned out pretty good.
MM: We just wanted to get it out there, but I’m sure the more we do it, it’ll grow and change as we do it.
TM: In addition to your music, you both are working on so much other stuff. Tell me a little bit about what each of you are working on in addition to Nancy & Beth? What shows or movies we can see you in in the coming months?
MM: Stephanie has a TV show coming out.
SH: Yeah, I have a show on ABC that is gonna premiere in April called How to Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life. And then I’m just doing some writing, and making short films with friends here and there. I’ve got some stuff, but Megan’s got a ton of stuff. She literally does everything.
MM: I’ve got those movies coming out that I mentioned earlier, and we just finished our fifth season of Children’s Hospital. I just sold a show to IFC that I created. I’m writing the pilot, and producing, and I’m going to be in it. I’m really excited about that, but I’m also really just so excited about this band. People freak out over it. We’ve had lots of repeat customers. People seem to really respond to it.
TM: Both of you are actresses first, and that’s how you met and everything, but I’m wondering if music was something both of you always had dreamed of doing and wanted to pursue? Or if this just kind of came about and happened out of nowhere?
MM: I would say we both are actually more musically-inclined than acting, right Steph?
SH: Yeah, like right from the get-go, we were both sort of musician-y than actor-y. I’ve been playing music since I was five.
MM: And I basically came out of the womb in a top hat and tap shoes, singing showtunes.
TM: So where does the band go from here? I know you’re on tour around the country this month. After that, do you have plans to record an album?
MM: Well, we’re definitely going to record, but probably not til the Fall, due to our schedules. We want to record, and get stuff out there, so that people can download our songs, and check us out. I had never seen a Facebook page until like two weeks ago–and I’m not even joking, I had never even seen a page, much less had a Facebook page–but now we have a Nancy & Beth Facebook page, and a Twitter, and our website. So we’re cranking all that into gear. We’re just so passionate about this project. Stephanie and I just have an affinity for each other.
TM: Yeah, you can see the chemistry, and you can hear it.
MM: Yeah, it’s a mysterious thing. She’s thirty years younger than me, but it’s like a one-brain situation. It’s a lot of fun.
SH: We also, in regards to our future, don’t really want to know exactly what Nancy & Beth will be. We are very creative and open people. It’s been a blast to see it evolving. So we don’t know where it will go.
TM: Alright, last question, after you guys become the greatest band of all time, who would you each want to play you in the movie biopic of your rise to musical superstardom?
SH: Alive or dead?
TM: You can choose whomever you like.
MM: I think I’d like Jack Black to play me.
SH: Yeah, I think that’s good. And I’d like Charlie Chaplin to play me.
TM: That sounds like an amazing movie.
MM: Or we could have Laurel & Hardy play us.
TM: That works too.
SH: Yeah, I think we’d have Laurel & Hardy play us.
Nancy & Beth are a band featuring Emmy Award winning actress Megan Mullally and fellow actress Stephanie Hunt.
Written by Tyler Malone
Photography Courtesy of Nancy & Beth
Design by Jillian Mercado
Nancy & Beth, Photography Courtesy of Nancy & Beth