I read recently about the “2% Rule” in comedy; that there are certain jokes that only 2% of your audience will understand.
Such is the humor of the act formerly known as “New Zealand’s 4th most popular folk parody duo,” Flight of the Conchords. Made up of “musician comedians” (musicianedians?) Bret Mckenzie and Jemaine Clement are now better known as “the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular folk duo in New Zealand.” According to them, anyway.
Flight of the Conchords is a “guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo.”
This brand of funnies will be lost on a lot of people. It seems like since the advent of YouTube, the rise of androgynous anti-comedy has taken acts like Tim & Eric, Patton Oswalt and Zach Galifianakis to the forefront of modern culture.
It’s hard to explain why a lot of the skits and characters are humorous. As an example, I once attempted to show my parents a Tim & Eric skit. Can’t remember which one. While I was bubbling with giggles, they both just look confused and asked the most prevalent question for this genre of humor: “This is what’s funny these days?”
Yes. Yes it is.
Flight set out to replicate various genres, sort of like Weird Al Yankovic. But they employ witty repartee and sharp humor in order to tell sharp humor. They appear as a lackadaisical, bumbling set of brothers, but it’s all a very well done, orchestrated act. The resulting product is a clever, intelligent “band” that has garnered a cultish following.
Hard to believe that Flight’s been around almost a decade, and has been done with their television run on HBO for a few years now as well. Thankfully, they released two full-length albums to cement their legacy. I Told You I Was Freaky is the group’s second album on SubPop records.
Over the course of 13 tracks (almost all of which appearing in season two of their revered HBO series of the same name), Bret and Jemaine use versions of rock, new wave, reggae and folk songs as a sort of backdrop for their various skits. You don’t have to watch the show in order to appreciate most of the songs, but for some of them like “Too Many Dicks (On the Dance Floor)” it’s all but essential.
While neither Bret or Jemaine are classically trained musicians, they really nail this particular subgenre of comedy. Believe it or not (but believe it, because it’s true), some of the songs could even come off as sincere, in spite of the shtick; like “Carol Brown,” for example.
In their most “human” moment, Bret sings: “Carol Brown just took a bus out of town… but I’m hoping that you stick around.”
Taken out of context of the rest of the inanity around it, it’s a touching, genuine moment.
…which is shattered in the next track, “Angels” which centers around cherub coitus.
Oh well. It was nice while it lasted.
Flight of the Conchords, summed up: humorous, dry songs that will alienate a lot of people; but to whom it does connect, it’s genius in comedy rock song form.
And while I normally don’t like reggae, this is a highlight of the album: from 2009’s I Told You I Was Freaky, this is Flight of the Conchords’ “You Don’t Have to Be a Prostitute” –
Standout tracks: “Hurt Feelings”; “We’re Both In Love With A Sexy Lady”; “Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor)”
Weakest track: “Rambling Through The Avenues Of Time” because I don’t like Irish folk-music. Deal with it.
RIYL: Comedy bands with talent, like Garfunkel and Oates. Tenacious D-type stuff, but not nearly as raunchy. Weird Al, who is not that weird in person.