A Tut of the Absurd


Only 3 months and several hours late. Guess that’s the rock ‘n’ roll way and they certainly aren’t ones to disappoint in that department. Finally they took to the stage. Aged, relaxed and seated. As ever though they did not disappoint with tales of free muffins, ex-girlfriends, of their partying ways and freaking out when trapped in an elevator. They came to shred acoustic guitars, to rock out with their recorders out, to transform a jazz flute into a phone. They came to entertain. It was safe to say the Conchords had landed in London.

The pair, Jermaine Clement and Brett McKenzie, that make up Flight of the Conchords had finally made their way back to the distant shores of Britain. They’ve come a long way not just literally, hailing from the remotes of New Zealand, but professionally since their inception 20 years ago. They’ve shed the title of being ‘New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo’. As having since that original knighting gone on to earn between them a Grammy, an Oscar and a plethora of Emmy nominations. Although the less said about the Oscar the better as Brett earned this on his lonesome outside of the dynamics of the band, which has most certainly not become a point of tension between the two… They have since adorned their deserved title of ‘the award winning fourth most popular folk duo in New Zealand’. All that in just twenty years. Now like any good writer worth his salt before I amaze you with their journey to fame allow me to firstly downplay my subjects in a rhetoric. So how did two shaggy haired nerdy Kiwis go on to have an acclaimed awards cabinet and to selling out 20,000 seat venues.

Like all good things it begins with a meeting. A meeting in which only Jermaine and Brett were present for. The meeting of the two new flatmates at the Victoria University of Wellington. Their first foray into the gigging life came when they joined the five man band; So you’re a man now. Which also starred another lesser known Kiwi by the name of Taika Waititi. By 1998 however the pair were out on their own and operating under the now famous moniker of The Flight of the Conchords. Six years later in 2004 they were busting down the doors of BBC Radio 2, here in England, as they unleashed their unique sense of humour and style upon an unsuspecting British public. Their show saw them arriving for the first time on the blistery streets of Londontown trying to break into the world of commercial music with the ever trusted aid of their manager, dutifully played by Rhys Darby. The show mixed their now trademark musical style and wittily scripted comedy to award winning effect. Now if all is sounding eerily familiar for those in the know. The radio show was a clear propagator to their follow up TV series in 2007 with HBO. Which saw them in great city of New York, fresh off the boat, trying to make a go of it in the city of dreams. It ran for two hilarious seasons and then it was over. Fans were left with one of the smallest and niche-est series out there along with an undying love for the Conchords themselves.

Having gotten the how we must now get to the why. It isn’t down to their undeniable musical talents, which are most certainly undeniable, that have made them such an outstanding success. It’s their goofball, off-the-cuff scriptedly fresh improvisational comedy that has made them so enduring. The enlightened of you may have detected an oxymoron in the previous but please do not be alarmed it was intentional. For the pair deliver scripted comedy so effortlessly that you can never ascertain whether or not it is scripted or its literally just rolling off their tongues right then and there. They achieve it all so easily, all done with a sigh here, a hmm there, a ah over there and then a tut of thoughtfulness to round it off. An interruption of anothers story , an interruption ignored, a correction to events. A miss of the count in, to play off key, to misremember lyrics. They pull you into their world where you never know what was intentional and what wasn’t. They create a perfect air of purposeful error. A quirk particularly evident in their live shows and albums. There is no distinction between riffing and scripted, off-the-cuff and the intended. By plunging you into a style of uninformed humour you never know what could come next making everything effortlessly fresh and breezy. The fact they are also able to bring this skill into their musical numbers, to stop and start, to riff and change, to play off one anothers errors or ideas mid-song both vocally and instrumentally is why they are so loved and so enjoyed. You never know where they are going, whats coming next, it just always feels fresh and intimate. They have even achieved this affability with in the confines of a single-cam sitcom. I guess it does also help they are incredibly charming and immensely talented people too. I guess all I can say is if you have never entered the world of the Conchords there is most definitely no time like the present. You will not be disappointed. Plus they always have plenty of Chip and Dip.


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