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Flight of the Conchords is a New Zealandmarker comedy duo composed of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. Billing themselves as "Formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo", the group uses a combination of witty observation, characterisation and acoustic guitar music. 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 2003 Edinburgh Festival Fringe after performing at a venue called The Caves. The duo's live performances have gained them a worldwide cult following.

Career history

Bret and Jemaine were flatmates at Victoria University of Wellingtonmarker, where they were studying film and theatre before forming Flight of the Conchords in 1998. 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.

Appearances

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", "Ladies of the World", "Petrov, Yelyena and Me", and "Hotties"

They performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2002 and 2003, when they were nominated for the Perrier Award. They also performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival where they won the Best Newcomer Award. 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, Texasmarker. 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, Tennesseemarker. The EP The Distant Future was released. It was produced by Mickey Petralia and recorded in Los Angelesmarker and New Yorkmarker 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 Wellingtonmarker 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 following day, Flight of the Conchords performed in Cahn Auditorium at Northwestern University. 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 Franciscomarker. 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. On 31 March 2009 the duo performed in Mastertonmarker New Zealand to 2000 locals as a benefit for Jemaine's old college Makoura Collegemarker raising around NZ$80,000 prior to setting off on a 50 date tour of the US.

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.

Television series

The duo star in a television series for HBO, titled Flight of the Conchords, which premiered in the United Statesmarker 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 fictional series revolves around the pair as they try to achieve success as a band in New York Citymarker 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 Mel's tolerant husband Doug, and Eugene Mirman as Eugene, their landlord. 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. The second season consisted of 10 episodes.

While the duo have not completely ruled out doing a third season, Clement said in an interview that they "probably won't." According to Clement, the series is extremely difficult to write for because they have to "...record two albums worth of material, and write a sitcom at the same time it would take to do an album."

Surprisingly, given their success outside of New Zealand, Bret and Jemaine are rumoured to have had project proposals continually denied funding by New Zealand public television. As Brannavan Gnanalingam notes in The Lumiere Reader, rumour has it that NZ TV3 denied funding because Bret and Jemaine's humour was deemed "too Wellington", meaning their humour would not work with the average New Zealander outside the nation's capital.

Film

Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie and Rhys Darby (the main trio from Flight of the Conchords) have appeared in a horror comedy titled Diagnosis: Death. The film was released on August 3, 2009.

Jemaine Clement will also appear as novelist Ronald Chevalier in the upcoming 2009 comedy film Gentlemen Broncos opposite Michael Angarano and Sam Rockwell.

Jemaine Clement also starred as Jarod in Eagle vs. Shark!

Bret McKenzie appeared as an unnamed elf in "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring". The Lord of the Rings fanbase dubbed the elf Figwit. McKenzie returned for a small speaking role in "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" as the same elf of Rivendell, now named "Elf Escort". He informs Arwen that she 'cannot delay' after she has a brief vision of her future with Aragorn and their son.

Awards

Award Awarded for Awarded at
Bronze (Comedy) BBC Radio Series Sony Radio Academy Awards 2006
Grammy for Best Comedy Album The Distant Future 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards 2007
Album of the Year Flight of the Conchords New Zealand Music Awards 08
Best Group Flight of the Conchords New Zealand Music Awards 08
Breakthrough Artist of the Year Flight of the Conchords New Zealand Music Awards 08
International Achievement Flight of the Conchords New Zealand Music Awards 08


Other achievements

  • On November 15, 2007, The Dominion Post awarded Clement and McKenzie with the 2007 Arts Wellys, and named them the 2007 Wellingtonians of the Year.
  • Time magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 5 New TV Series of 2007, ranking it at #2
  • Entertainment Weekly named Flight of the Conchords the seventh best show of 2007.
  • Flight of the Conchords were nominated for two Emmys in 2008, for Best Writing (Comedy Series) and Best Directing (Comedy Series).
  • Flight of the Conchords placed three songs in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2008. Business Time #19, The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room) #60, and Hiphopopotamus Vs Rhymenocerous #67.
  • Clement was nominated for the 2009 Emmy for Best Actor (Comedy Series).


Discography

Albums

Year Title UK U.S. NZ Aus Can

Label
2002 Folk the World Tour Flight of the Conchords Music
2006 The BBC Radio Series: Flight of the Conchords BBC Audiobooks Ltd
2007 The Distant Future (EP) 116 14 Sub Pop
2008 Flight of the Conchords 32 3 1 37 34
2009 Pencils in the Wind (7" Single)
I Told You I Was Freaky 47 19 7


References

External links




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