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Worth a Watch: Flight of The Conchords 15 years on

Cast your mind back to 2007. Crude oil prices had opened up the new year at $58.32 a barrel, and a panel of international scientists stated that millions of poor people will suffer unless drastic action was taken against climate change (good thing we took that issue seriously and achieved world peace all in the same year!).

For me, 2007 was the same for me as it was in 2006. I spent most of it kicking back, enjoying my life of sports, books and watching tv, blissfully unaware of all the great things looming for me on the horizon fifteen years later.

Do you know what else was released all the way back in that long-gone era? That’s right, the HBO series follows the New Zealand comedic musical duo Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement as Flight of the Conchords in their self-titled show.

This comedic smash hit follows two New Zealand expats Bret (Bret McKenzie) and Jemaine (Jemaine Clement) as they move to New York to chase their music stardom dream, their only problem is that New York is a big place and they’re only a little band.

To try and help themselves they’ve employed the affable New Zealand consulate official turned band manager Murray Hewitt (Rhys Darby). Armed with Murray’s limited knowledge of the New York music scene and their mum and dad guitars Flight of the Conchords is taking their innovative comedic sound to the biggest stages in the United States… eventually. Yes, at the moment it seems like the only sorts of gigs that Murray can book for them are small parks, hole-in-the-wall venues, and this recurring thing at the library which seems completely counterintuitive.

Over the show’s two seasons, broken down into twenty-two episodes, we see the band struggle to make enough money to afford their crappy apartment, meet women, keep women, keep the band together and confront all the different feelings that bubble up over the series. They also had some important lessons on the importance of foreplay, who the dopest rappers are and the pressures of city life. All these issues are tackled in twenty minutes with dry New Zealand wit and some very catchy tunes sprinkled throughout.

You’re probably asking yourself one question, why are we talking about this show about two New Zealanders failing to break into the New York music scene? It’s a fair question but one with a very simple answer – it’s a bloody great show!

Looking at the cast’s other work it’s not hard to see why it’s such a good show. Jemaine Clement co-wrote the hilarious What We Do In The Shadows and has done some directorial work and cameos in the FX series Wellington Paranormal and his fellow Conchord Bret McKenzie has gone on to develop a bustling musical career in his own right. Even their band manager, Rhys Darby, now headlines the FX series Our Flag Means Death as well as his comedy standup and television and video games work. This show’s clearly not a one-off success story.

If you’ve seen What We Do In The Shadows, Our Flag Means Death, or Wellington Paranormal then you’ll know the dry New Zealand wit that permeates the entire two seasons of Flight of The Conchords. From Jermaine’s proclamation that he’s “usually more charismatic than this” to comparing a beautiful girl to a tree or a high-class prostitute to Murray’s boundless optimism and Bret constantly quitting the band, there’s an innocence and well-meaning to the humour that I just love.

In the end, it comes down to that – the show is genuinely fun to watch. Bret and Jemaine aren’t mean-spirited like the Seinfeld gang or dysfunctional psychopaths like the patrons of Paddy’s Pub from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, they’re just two guys from Ireland New Zealand making their way in the world trying to make their dreams come true and, in the end, isn’t that all what we want for ourselves?

You can watch the episodes again and again, picking up new little jokes and details on every rewatch which I see as the ultimate endorsement for a show. There’s really nothing more to be said. The show’s great, I absolutely adore Murray Hewitt so enjoy the compilation video of Murray Hewitt’s best moments from the series.

If you’re ever looking for a great story about surviving New York City circa 2007, Flight of The Conchords is your go-to show if you want comedy, great songs, and some really poignant moments.

Have you seen Flight of The Conchords? What are your thoughts and which Flight of The Conchord song is your favourite? Let me know in the comments below.


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