You know Megan Mullally from TV’s just-returned-after-hiatus “Will & Grace.” She plays Karen, the shrill socialite who is Grace’s friend.
You know Stephanie Hunt from ... Wait! You don’t know her. She was on “Friday Night Lights,” but you probably don’t remember her as Devin, the bass-playing lesbian.
Anyway, Mullally and Hunt met on the set of an indie movie in Texas in 2011. Despite a 30-year age difference, they bonded. So much so that they formed a musical duo, Nancy And Beth. Yes, the “And” has a capital A.
They made a self-titled album and now they’re hitting the road, with a show set for Thursday at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.
Their music is mostly serious, their takes on obscure oldies like “Please Mr. Jailer” and “Fine Brown Frame” plus there’s a so-straight-ahead-it’s-hilarious rendition of rapper Gucci Mane’s overly sexist “I Don’t Love Her.”
In a recent three-way conversation, Mullally phoned from Los Angeles and Hunt checked in from Austin, Texas, to talk about Nancy And Beth, Mullally’s vacations in Minnesota and plans for the just-renewed redux of “Will & Grace.”
Not only do Mullally and Hunt have the same taste in music, but they look surprisingly alike (really) and sound amazingly alike (totally), especially over the phone.
Luckily, Mullally’s husband, Nick Offerman (“Parks and Recreation”), will be their road manager. He can pull them out of all the vintage shops when it comes time to perform.
On who is Nancy and who is Beth
“That is a secret that we’ll take to our graves,” Mullally explained. “Literally not one other person on the planet except for Stephanie and I know — including Nick Offerman.”
On what percent of their stage act is musical and what percent is comedy
“I think it’s 90 percent musical,” Mullally estimated.
“It’s like a sundae of music with a sprinkle of comedy,” continued Hunt.
“Yeah, it’s the hot fudge sauce on your sundae,” Mullally offered, and Hunt giggled.
On describing the act in 10 words
Hunt: “You do five words and I’ll do five.”
Mullally: “Punk cocktail traveling tent show.”
Hunt: “Lively. Duo. Ladies. Ah, jiggling ... ”
Mullally: “Singing and dancing.”
On five words to describe each other as people, not performers
Hunt on Mullally: “Thoughtful. Creative. Instinctual. Fun and otherworldly.
Mullally on Hunt: “Human Xanax. Creative. Instinctive. Hold on, I’ve got a dog trying to eat my watermelon. Ethereal. Funny.”
On walking the line between treating songs respectfully and spoofing them
“We never mean to do a spoof on a song but sometimes our wit comes into play,” Mullally said. “Every song that we do is out of complete love and admiration for it. I’m going to qualify that with Gucci Mane. We do love that song but we love it because it’s wrong. It’s so wrong that it’s right.”
On how they bonded
While filming “Somebody Up There Likes Me” in Austin, Texas, they decided to go to a movie one night but they both arrived too late so they had to kill time before attending a later screening. Hunt was so excited to be socializing with Mullally that she unconsciously rolled her paper movie ticket into a little ball and lost it. Eventually, she and Mullally found the teeny ball on the floor of their rental car.
“We carefully unfurled it and we just started laughing,” Hunt said. “That was it.”
“We just had deep understanding at that point,” Mullally said.
On the first song they sang together
When they were moviemaking in Texas, Mullally wanted to hear one of Hunt’s songs. It was 110 degrees out so they retired to Hunt’s air-conditioned rental car. She grabbed her ukulele and started singing one of her original tunes, “Too Too Many.”
“There’s a round at the end,” Hunt pointed out, “and I asked Megan to sing the round.”
On comparing Jack and Karen’s chemistry on ‘Will & Grace’ with Nancy And Beth’s
“I feel like there’s a shared quality I have with Stephanie that I also have with Sean Hayes, which is a psychic connection,” Mullally said. “Stephanie and I don’t ever talk about anything. We just get in a room together and things start happening. We’re completely on the same wavelength.
“The same is true with Sean Hayes. When we’re doing scenes together, we have an unspoken shorthand. I don’t know where that comes from. Stephanie and I will often say the exact same thing at the exact same time.
“But in terms of harmonies, Stephanie is the harmony genius. We never talk about it. I’ll start singing the melody and she’ll just threading these complicated, unusual, beautiful harmonies.”
On the cover of their album in which they both appear nude with type covering up certain parts
OK, it was the photographer’s idea. Each woman posed separately and when they saw their photographed bodies side by side on a monitor, they realized, well ...
“We were exactly the same size. Like proportionally. Our knees, our waist, our shoulders,” Mullally said. “You’d think that was digitally manipulated; it was not.”
Added Hunt: “It’s become more and more apparent that we’re very parallel.”
On what they do for fun on the road
Two words: vintage shopping.
“We find weird stores and we have a knack for unturning every stone in the store that could be interesting,” Hunt said.
On Mullally getting marooned on a boat with Offerman on her first trip to Minnesota in 2000
“That was a big night,” she said.
His family has regularly vacationed at a Minnesota resort. On her first trip to meet his family (“I have two people in my family and he has like 300”), she and Offerman took a late-night pontoon boat ride on a lake. As they drank wine, admired the moon and “made out,” the pontoon’s battery went dead because Offerman had left the headlight on.
“There was one oar. A green wooden oar. And he started rowing. It was like a lake barge. We couldn’t even see the shore we were going to. He said to just start singing. So I sang and he rowed,” Mullally recalled. “It took four hours.”
When they finally arrived, she embraced him on the dock. “I told him that I loved him — and that was the first time I ever told him that.”
“Awww,” interjected Hunt.
On Mullally’s schedule for ‘Will & Grace’
“We start back again in July and we’re shooting up until Christmas. We’re packing 18 episodes into a pretty short amount of time. We worked quickly this year. It’s been a blast. This is going to be more fun in terms of story lines.”
On Hunt’s music career
She is going to release an album of her own songs under the moniker Buffalo Hunt probably next year. She hopes to tour behind the record — without Mullally.