FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS
I n the world of comedy songs there are plenty of one-off successes. South Park’s ‘Chocolate Salty Balls’ springs to mind, as does Spitting Image’s ‘Chicken Song’. Even the Goodies’ ‘Funky Gibbon’ had a certain primatal charm to recommend it. But they were one-offs on the whole. And though Flight of the Conchords haven’t written a number one single, they’ve achieved the rare feat of making song after funny song, all of which fail to grate after repeated listens. Their tracks get into the mind, demanding to be sung; performed; appreciated.
No wonder, then, that YouTube is stacked with videos of fans (mostly university-age males), strumming their guitars along to ‘Bret You Got it Going On’ or belting out ‘The Humans are Dead’ at open mic nights. There are now several part- time acts who have fulfilled part of the prophesy of one of the Conchords’ old jokes (that they have a tribute act who are slightly more popular than they are), performing under the name Like of the Conchords. I too have a long-held ambition to perform some of FotC’s material, but have never quite been prepared to form a band to do it. Luckily, Edinburgh’s Electric Circus was on hand to offer List staff a private Conchords sing-a-long in one of their rather luxurious karaoke suites. I was, needless to say, well-rehearsed, and after some initial awkwardness I warmed up with a version of ‘Think About It’.
A suppressed burp ruined my first attempt, forcing me to restart (I was aiming for nothing less
In homage to his heroes, Jonny Ensall attempts Flight of the Conchords karaoke at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus than perfection) but my second stab at the Marvin Gaye-alike song from series one of the Conchords’ HBO show was a classic. Some surprisingly soulful backing music really brought the sentiment alive: ‘They’re turning kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers; but what’s the real cost cos the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper . . . what are your overheads!’ Pivotal stuff.
‘Hiphopopotamus Following this, a colleague moved us all with Bret’s ballad of emotional denial, ‘I’m Not Crying (It’s Just Been Raining on my Face)’. We were then treated to an authentically accented version of ‘Business Time’ before, inevitably, we looked to deal out the coup de grâce evening’s entertainment – a version of rap epic vs Rhymenoceros’. As comedian and comedy listings editor Siân Bevan (the Hiphopopotamus to my Rhymenoceros) remarked, the lyrics ‘My rhymes are so potent that in this small segment I made all of the ladies in the area pregnant’ are somewhat difficult to spit out. After a couple of false starts we managed however, mother flippin’ our way to a glorious homage.
It’s all credit to the Conchords’ music that their songs are not just good for giggles, they actually sound great, even when filtered through croaky vocal chords and stifled laughs. In short, I’m in awe, and at the risk of sounding like superfan Mel, just singing along makes me feel like I’m with the band. Electric Circus, 36 Market Street, Edinburgh, 226 4224. www.theelectriccircus.biz
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<< 2004 Phones4U harness their advertising powers in a retail campaign. Flight of the Conchords also return to the Edinburgh Fringe, this time playing above ground, in a sell- out set that includes ‘Jenny’, ‘Business Time’, ‘Stana’ and an unfinished love song called ‘The Scientist and the French Teacher’.
26 THE LIST 13–27 May 2010
2005 Their Edinburgh success leads to a six-part BBC Two radio show. Bret and Jemaine move to London where they spend five months writing and recording a mockumentary about the lives of a fictional version of themselves. Flight of the Conchords are asked to film a half-hour comedy performance for the Friday night show One Night Stand.
2007 The first episode of Flight of the Conchords airs on HBO. It is created with James Bobin, who also wrote and directed Ali G in the USAiii. The show centres on the fictionalised lives of shepherds-turned-musicians Brett and Jemaine, seeking fame in New York City. The show wins instant popularity. It is nominated for the 2007 Satellite Award for Best Television Series, Comedy or Musical. Bret and Jemaine are honoured by their home city as ‘Wellingtonians of the Year’. 2008 More prizes. The show receives four Emmy Award nominations, and three Writer’s Guild of America nominations. In 2009 this success is followed by six more Emmy Award nominations.
2009 to present A second series of Flight of the Conchords premieres in January 2009, and is equally well received. The duo announce, however, that it will be the last – Jemaine has previously commented on the length of time the series took to write. The duo appear in comedy-horror Diagnosis Death (2009) and are set to appear in an episode of The Simpsons in late 2010. Jermaine appears, and is due to appear, in several other comedy films, including Gentleman Broncos (2010).