Flight of the Conchords is a Grammy Award-winning New Zealand comedy duo composed of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. Billing themselves as “Formerly New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a capella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo”, the group uses a combination of witty observation, characterisation and acoustic folk guitars. The duo’s comedy and music became the basis of a BBC radio series and then an American television series, which premiered in 2007, also called Flight of the Conchords.
They were named Best Alternative Comedy Act at the 2005 US Comedy Arts Festival and Best Newcomer at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and they received a nomination for the Perrier Comedy Award at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2003. The duo’s live performances have gained them a worldwide cult following.
Here are two of my favorite songs from the first series:
Bret and Jemaine were flatmates at Victoria University of Wellington, where they were studying film and theatre before forming Flight of the Conchords in 1998. They have since developed a mass cult following. They first performed as part of a five-man group called So You’re a Man, which included Taika Waititi, and had a small but loyal following in New Zealand and Australia.
The band performed its first televised performances over four nights (May 3-6 2000) on Newtown Salad, a show on Wellington’s short-lived local TV station “Channel 7” (later renamed “WTV”). The songs, in order, were “Bowie in Space”, “Ladies of the World”, “Petrov, Yelena and Me”, and “Hotties”.
In 2002 and 2003 they performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They were nominated for the Perrier Award in 2003. They also performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival where they won the Best Newcomer Award.
In 2004, the band again performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. They were later featured in a 2004 campaign for British mobile phone retailer Phones 4U. They were also featured on Australia’s ABC TV in the show Stand Up!
HBO gave the group a special on their Friday night half-hour stand-up comedy series One Night Stand. They then headlined at the opening weekend at Comix comedy club where they recorded two tracks included on 2007’s “The Distant Future”. They also performed at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. During their visit to Texas, they recorded a documentary titled Flight of the Conchords: A Texan Odyssey, which aired on New Zealand’s TV3 in late 2006.
In June 2007, the band performed on David Letterman’s Late Show and were also interviewed by Terry Gross on the NPR radio show Fresh Air. The band appeared at the 2007 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee. The EP The Distant Future was released. It was produced by Mickey Petralia and recorded in Los Angeles and New York by Petralia and engineer Matt Shane. The live portions were taken from concerts at Comix comedy club in New York City. On October 24, 2007, Flight of the Conchords appeared as the musical guests on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.
In January 2008, the band spoke and performed as part of Comcast’s presentation at CES 2008. On February 10, 2008, the band won the Grammy for best comedy album for The Distant Future.
On February 13, 2008, Flight of the Conchords had their first post-Grammy concert, a freebie show, at a small Wellington video store called Aro Video.
On March 5, 2008, Jemaine & Bret performed at a private show at ‘The Depot’ in Salt Lake City, Utah. The performance was for the 2008 Omniture (Web analytics Conference). The very next day, Flight of the Conchords performed in Cahn Auditorium at Northwestern University which was sponsored by student-run A&O Productions.
On April 24, 2008, Jemaine and Bret played a free show at Amoeba Music in Hollywood, CA.
On May 28, 2008, Flight of the Conchords performed at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco.
The band performed on the Main Stage of the Sasquatch! Music Festival on Monday 26 May 2008 at The Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington State.
On July 12, 2008, Flight of the Conchords performed at Sub Pop’s 20th Anniversary Music Festival.
BBC radio series
In 2004, the band created a radio series for BBC Radio 2. Largely improvised, the series was based on the band’s search for commercial success in London. It featured Rob Brydon as their narrator, Rhys Darby as their manager and Jimmy Carr as a devoted fan called Kipper.
The BBC Radio 2 series won the duo the Bronze Sony Radio Academy Award for comedy.
The duo star in a television series for HBO, titled Flight of the Conchords, which premiered in the United States in June 2007. The series simultaneously premiered in Canada on The Movie Network and Movie Central, and is also currently playing on The Comedy Network.
The series revolves around the pair as they try to achieve success as a band in New York City and try to develop an American fan base. The regular cast includes fellow comedians Rhys Darby as Murray, Arj Barker as Dave, Kristen Schaal as their excessively devoted and obsessed fan Mel, David Costabile as Doug and Eugene Mirman as Eugene. This show also features many other comedians in guest starring roles. Their songs are woven into the plot of each episode. The first season consisted of 12 episodes.
The second season of Flight of the Conchords started on HBO on January 18, 2009. The first episode of the second season premiered online on Funny Or Die a few weeks early on December 17, 2008. On December 21, the first episode of Flight of the Conchords, season two, became available for online viewing on a variety of additional platforms including HBO.com, iTunes and HBO’s YouTube channel.
New studio album
In early 2009, Flight of the Conchords will be releasing their second full-length studio album. It will feature around 15 songs. Out of those 15, ten of those songs will be featured in the second season of their television series. The night after an episode airs, one of the new songs that made its debut in the episode will be released on iTunes as a single
For more information on Flight of the Conchords check out What the Folk