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A comedian abroad
11:53am Thursday 3rd July 2014 in Leisure News
ELECTRIC copper-haired comedian preparing for his UK tour? Present.
Giddy reporter holding back her excitement? Present.
And so the scene was set for an interview with the man who made roll calls cool.
New Zealander Rhys Darby heads to the UK with his latest stand-up tour Mr Adventure this month.
But he says despite cult hit Flight of the Conchords last being on screens in 2009, fans of the show, where he plays hopeless band manager Murray, are still as enthusiastic as ever both in America and the UK.
And he admits one of the best loved scenes where Murray conducts a roll call despite only band members Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement being in the room was the result of some simple improv at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The 40-year-old added: “I always say Edinburgh was where everything came together.
“I was doing my own show over there while the Conchords were doing theirs and BBC wanted to make a radio pilot and asked if I wanted to play the part of their band manager.
“I came up with idea to do a roll call on the spot but I never would have thought years to come it would end up being this huge thing.”
The show following the Kiwis trying to make it in New York shot the trio to fame and lead to Hollywood calling for Rhys but he admits he was a little nervous how his character would be received.
The performer, who splits his time between Auckland and LA, added: “We were doing our New Zealand comedy in America and it was needed because at that time there was a lot of very similar situation comedies and this was something refreshing.
“It had fantastic music that was loved all over the world and already performed in front of thousands of people.
“My only thing was ‘Are they going to like me?’ I wasn’t very cool, dorky and uptight and thought fans would say ‘Ah get rid of that guy’ but it just worked.
“It turns out they could relate to the guy that wanted to be part of something cool.
“Even though it’s a very comical take it’s got that thing of little people wanting to make it and thanks to the show we did.
“But we had worked a lot to get to that point.”
The former soldier’s career began during university in Christchurch where he realised performing comedy was something he was ‘naturally good at’.
His wife Rosie opened a comedy club cafe, which is where they met, while Rhys performed as a hobby in a duo.
From there he says his sketchy, surreal comedy snowballed leading to his second UK tour this summer after sell-out success in his home country.
The Brit-inspired comic added: “This tour is a lot more epic than I have done in the past.
“It’s about my adventures abroad and has got a lot of dramatic elements to it as I wanted to create an adventure on stage as well as talking about it.
“I grew up being obsessed with British comedy and the first thing we do when we hit the UK is see Monty Python live which I never thought would happen in my lifetime.
“It will spur me on to have a fantastic tour because they’ve always been my idols.”
It adds to an exciting year for the father-of-two who is set to take on the incredible challenge of climbing more than 5,000 metres up to Everest base camp with his comedy mates before setting the record for the world’s highest stand-up comedy gig to raise cash for Save the Children.
The master of sound effects and story-telling added: “I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year and once you climb one mountain that’s it you’re a mountain climber and the phone starts ringing...and I didn’t even want to climb that one!
“Being married with kids you can’t just say ‘Oh let’s go to Nepal’ so I took the opportunity as a famous comedian because if you don’t you’re only going to regret it.
“I’m trying not to think too much about the fact I’ve got a nine-day trek climbing a mountain before the gig and I think I’ll have to do one of my more static sets.
“Hopefully at that altitude it will be like when you’re on a plane and you’ll laugh at anything.”
As for the future, the sit com writer hopes to create a second series of his mockumentary Short Poppies and doesn’t rule out working with Bret and Jemaine again even if he won’t be drawn on whether or not it’s more Conchords.
“I think we will always do stuff together because it’s a case of working with your mates”, he added.
“When you’re from a little island in the south Pacific you might as well see how far you can go.
“Worst case scenario is you might have to come back to paradise and hang out by the beach.”
Band meeting concluded.
Rhys Darby is at The Lowry on July 19.
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