Riki Lindhome Solves Modern Problems with Gilded Age Wisdom

The co-creator and star of Comedy Central's series "Another Period" delivers frank advice to listeners about camera-shy "Lolitas," unwelcome living room concerts, and dealing with "Downton"-haters.

ctress Riki Lindhome speaks onstage during the Viacom Winter Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 10, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images for Viacom)

Rico Gagliano: Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this week is actor and comedian Riki Lindhome. She is one half of the comedy music duo, Garfunkel and Oates [Ed. note: Hear their appearance from our 2014 Santa Monica live show here]. I believe she is Garfunkel?

Riki Lindhome: Yes!

Rico Gagliano: All right. Their much missed sitcom concluded last year on IFC, and now, along with comedian Natasha Leggero, Riki has co-created and stars in the series “Another Period,” which just launched on Comedy Central. It is a sendup of historical dramas like “Downton Abbey,” crossed with the reality TV elements of the “Kardashians” —

Brendan Francis Newnam: Did you write that, Rico? That’s pretty well-put.

Rico Gagliano: — I might have pulled that off a PR blast. The show is set in 1902 Rhode Island. Riki plays the dumbest of the wealthy, spoiled Bellacourt sisters. In this clip, they show up at a meeting of suffragists… and protest against a woman’s right to vote. Riki is playing the fife [clip plays].

Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome in a scene from "Another Period." Photo Credit: Comedy Central
Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome in a scene from “Another Period.” Photo Credit: Comedy Central

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, Riki, welcome back to the show.

Riki Lindhome: Thank you! Thanks for having me.

Rico Gagliano: We had to play the whole thing; it’s just an amazing scene.

Riki Lindhome: Thank you! It was fun.

Rico Gagliano: You end up stabbing a suffragist at the end of that scene.

Riki Lindhome: Yeah, I do. Spoiler alert; I might be in a band with her.

Rico Gagliano: Mm-hm, that’s Oates getting shivved in the eye.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, how did you land on this particular period of history as the basis of your parody?

Riki Lindhome: Well, one, it was the first year that motion picture cameras were really happening. So, I guess it technically could have happened in 1902. And, the other thing, it’s sort of this golden age where there was no income tax in America, and no antitrust laws.

So, people were billionaires, with a “B,” not adjusting for time period. And they were brand new. They were like, a fur trapper who was suddenly a billionaire. And I was like, well, that’s funny to me.

Armen Weitzman, Christina Hendricks, Michael Ian Black, Beth Dover, Brett Gelman, Lauren Ash, Jason Ritter, David Wain, Riki Lindhome, Natasha Leggero, Brian Huskey, Paget Brewster, David Koechner appear in character for "Another Period." Photo Credit: Robyn Von Swank
Armen Weitzman, Christina Hendricks, Michael Ian Black, Beth Dover, Brett Gelman, Lauren Ash, Jason Ritter, David Wain, Riki Lindhome, Natasha Leggero, Brian Huskey, Paget Brewster, David Koechner appear in character for “Another Period.” Photo Credit: Robyn Von Swank

Rico Gagliano: I mean it’s maybe not a coincidence that you’re doing a piece about the Gilded Age in a time of income disparity…

Riki Lindhome: It’s the same. Because people have figured out how to not pay taxes now. And how to not have trust laws now. You know, it’s all the same.

Rico Gagliano: We’re not saying that it’s a political show, but there might be some underpinnings.

Riki Lindhome: There’s definitely… I mean it’s the stupidest political show you’ll ever see. It’s just so dumb in the best way, but we try to get it in there — try to get some politics.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Well, I would argue that it’s not entirely dumb. I mean your character Beatrice is the resident airhead…

Riki Lindhome: Yes.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Your sister Lilian is ruthless. And then your third sister, Hortence, is actually pretty normal…

Riki Lindhome: She’s the only smart one, and we think she shouldn’t even be alive. She’s barren, so we’re like, “Well… why are you still here?”

Rico Gagliano: “What point do you have?”

Riki Lindhome: “When do you die?” Yeah, she has no point, in our minds.

Brendan Francis Newnam: You give her constant flack, yes. And you give her flack for wanting things like — as we just heard — the right to vote. Can you talk about writing her character and the role she plays in this whole satirical universe?

Riki Lindhome: She’s the voice of reason, who we just all think is absolutely ridiculous. We think she’s just so beneath us, because we are married and we have eight kids, therefore we’re superior beings. And she’s the sad woman who reads.

Rico Gagliano: In a way she’s the modern woman transported back in time.

Riki Lindhome: Yes, exactly. But back then they thought if a woman read at a college level, it would shrink her ovaries.

Rico Gagliano: Is that true?

Riki Lindhome: That’s real.

Brendan Francis Newnam: What?

Riki Lindhome: Almost everything in our show is real. Some people criticize stuff, but we’re like, “No, that’s fact.”

There were anti-suffragist rallies, there were… Freud did diagnose people as homosexual. Last night’s episode that happened. People were appointed Senator, you didn’t vote for it back then. All that stuff is just real.

Rico Gagliano: Before we started taping, you mentioned there was a beauty pageant…

Riki Lindhome: Yeah, beauty pageants used to just be cabbages and birds, and then they’re like, “Let’s put women in there!” And there was a beauty pageant in Rhode Island with women, babies, and cabbages [Rico and Brendan laugh]. And so we’re like, “We don’t have to make that up.” People are like, “That’s so dehumanizing!” And we’re like, “That’s real.”

Rico Gagliano: Wow.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So you and Natasha are the Ken Burns of the Comedy Central set.

Riki Lindhome: Yeah, exactly.

Rico Gagliano: Perfect.

Brendan Francis Newnam: So, you’ve spent a while living in Bellacourt Manor to shoot this show. And it’s a place where they have 17 forks for each plate. Are you ready to answer these etiquette questions we have for you?

Riki Lindhome: Sure. I’ll try.

Just can’t stop the music

Rico Gagliano: Here’s one from Brian in Rutherford, New Jersey. Brian writes:

“At parties at my apartment, friends or sometimes strangers will pick up my guitar or ukulele, or sit down at my piano, and play. 90 percent of the time, they don’t know how to play. It is not enjoyable and extremely distracting for me, and I bet everyone else. What is the best way to politely ask them to stop?”

Riki Lindhome: OK, I have this happen all the time, because I have a lot of instruments. I think the best way… people want music to be a communal experience. So if you just look at your phone, they will stop within, like, two songs. Do you know what I mean? If you just ignore it, if you pretend if it’s not happening, if you continue your conversation, they’ll just stop.

Rico Gagliano: Starve the room of that campfire feeling.

Riki Lindhome: Yes, exactly. Who’s gonna play for half an hour with no one looking at them? Nobody. They’ll stop.

Rico Gagliano: Who says there’s no place for cell phones at a party?

Riki Lindhome: They are good things.

Dealing with the dissing of “Downton”

Brendan Francis Newnam: There you go, Brian. Our next question comes from Patricia in Chicago. Patricia writes:

“Most of my friends have fallen off the ‘Downton Abbey’ bandwagon. I am still firmly on this bandwagon. Is it OK for my friends to bash the show in my presence?”

Riki Lindhome: Wow, you are really sensitive. I mean… can you talk about politics or something? Like, how sensitive are you that they can’t not like a show that you like?

Rico Gagliano: Yeah.

Riki Lindhome: I feel like it would be really hard to be friends with you. I mean, don’t you think? If you can’t bash a show in their presence? That’s pretty–

Brendan Francis Newnam: No, you like to have a little bit of give and take, thrust and parry during a dinner party. And it seems like yeah, television should be a safe ground for that.

Riki Lindhome: It’s like a fun, easy thing to banter about, so you don’t have to talk about real things. Like you should be lucky they’re not talking about Obamacare.

Rico Gagliano: That’s exactly right. I will say though, “Downton Abbey” is one of those shows that… it’s like your family they’re making fun of.

Riki Lindhome: I mean, I guess. In our writing staff for “Another Period,” we were kind of split down the middle: Half the people loved it and half the people hated it.

And it worked for us because we’d be like, “What do you hate the most?” And [they’re] like, “When they do this.” And we’re like, “Oh, that’s funny. We’ll take that!”

Rico Gagliano: What side do you fall on?

Riki Lindhome: I’m on the love side.

Rico Gagliano: Yeah; I can kind of tell. On one hand, you’re obviously bashing the Gilded Age…

Riki Lindhome: Yes.

Rico Gagliano: But on the other hand, you like hanging out in that mansion.

Riki Lindhome: Yeah, it’s really fun. I like the costumes, yeah.

Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome in a scene from "Another Period." Photo Credit: Comedy Central
Natasha Leggero and Riki Lindhome in a scene from “Another Period.” Photo Credit: Comedy Central

Brendan Francis Newnam: You like sucking the cream out of creampuffs and throwing them at people.

Riki Lindhome: Yeah, “Cream time!”

Rico Gagliano: There is a scene where your favorite pastime is to throw empty creampuffs at servants.

Brendan Francis Newnam: “Cream time.”

Pictures without permission

Rico Gagliano: All right, here’s something from Rei in Coplay, Pennsylvania. And Rei writes:

“I am a ‘Lolita.’ Lolita is a type of fashion imported from Japan or a person who wears it…”

Brendan Francis Newnam: We were afraid to Google search that, so we’re just gonna take her word for it.

Rico Gagliano: Yes.

“I frequently get together with other Lolitas in public for picnics or shopping. People often ask to take our pictures or have us pose with them or their kids, which we don’t mind at all. But we often see people taking pictures of us without permission. This is upsetting, feels like an invasion of our privacy and indicates a lack of respect. How do we let these people know their behavior is wrong?”

Riki Lindhome: Um, can I call the bullshit meter on this one?

Rico Gagliano: You can, and we can bleep that out.

Riki Lindhome: I’ve seen the Lolita way of dressing and it is–

Rico Gagliano: Which is what, by the way?

Riki Lindhome: It’s basically you’re kind of dressing like an anime doll… halfway between anime and an American Girl doll. You have anime makeup, a bright pink wig with pigtails, and then a ballet costume and seven inch boots and–

Brendan Francis Newnam: So it’s subtle.

Riki Lindhome: Yeah, it’s subtle. You look like a cartoon character. And a group of them getting together, not wanting to be photographed? I don’t buy it. I’m sorry, I don’t buy it.

Rico Gagliano: Well, they expect to be photographed, they just expect you to ask their permission, though.

Riki Lindhome: Right. We don’t live in that world anymore. This isn’t the ’80s. We don’t! Everybody takes pictures of everything all the time, and you can’t expect to be exempt from that ever, really.

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right, Riki, where do we draw the line? Because you’re becoming increasingly popular. People probably take pictures of you. Is that acceptable?

Riki Lindhome: Yeah.

Brendan Francis Newnam: Great. Rico, take a picture.

Riki Lindhome: I mean, you can’t take a picture of me in the shower or at the gym. But like… you know? I dunno.

Rico Gagliano: If you’re out in public, particularly perhaps if you’re making a spectacular…

Riki Lindhome: Yes. If you’re seven Lolitas in a park, I think you just need to get past it and just realize that’s the society we’re living in.

Rico Gagliano: Expect it, you guys.

Brendan Francis Newnam: All right.

What is the most memorable get-together you’ve ever been to?

Rico Gagliano: Here’s our last question. This is a question we ask everyone who does this segment of the show. What is the most memorable get-together you’ve ever been to? Who? What? Where? Details please.

Riki Lindhome: So, the director of “Another Period,” Jeremy Konner, he got married last summer, two summers ago, something like that. I can’t keep track of time. But, so he had a standard, pretty ceremony. And then the after party got crazy, and everyone including the bride and groom ended up in the pool.

Brendan Francis Newnam: In their clothes?

Riki Lindhome: In their clothes. It was hundreds of people in formal wear, in a pool, and people were just like pouring tequila in your mouth from the bottle.

Rico Gagliano: Sounds pretty Gilded Age.

Riki Lindhome: It was so Gilded Age. I was in a hot tub at one point, in my dress, with 15 or 16 other people just taking shots of whatever.

Brendan Francis Newnam: And all the kids at that local YMCA were like, “What is going on with these people? How come they’re in our pool wearing dresses?” [Riki laughs.]

Rico Gagliano: “This is wrong, mommy!”

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah.

Riki Lindhome: It was kind of a weird night for everyone. A lot of people kinda stopped drinking for a while. It was just a lot.

Rico Gagliano: Well, if your show’s about anything, it is the evils of decadence. Riki Lindhome, thank you for telling your audience how to behave and how not to.

Riki Lindhome: Thank you for having me.