2003 Edinburgh Fringe
Brian Logan - The Guardian, August 7th
Last year's from-nowhere smash, this Kiwi
duo has accrued a cult following that seems to include every
other comedian on the fringe. You can see why: their show,
High on Folk, is a late-night gem. Armed with two acoustic
guitars and a choice line in muttering deadpan, Jermaine Clement
and Bret McKenzie are reinventing folk music. You want gangsta
folk? You've got their rap odyssey The HipHopapotamus Versus
the Rhymenoceros. You want soul folk? Here's Jermaine's ballad
I'm Not Crying (It's Just Been Raining on My Face).
They know they're supposed to banter between
songs, but about what? For parodists, the pair take themselves
unflinchingly seriously. Their songs range freely over unlikely
subjects: man-flower love, Lord of the Rings, a robot takeover
But it all boils down to the tunes. You
can't do Proclaimers meets Kraftwerk without musical skill.
Clement and McKenzie have that in abundance. And the lyrics
are a joy. "How come we've reached a fork in the road,
and yet it cuts like a knife?" sings Clement. And "Why
can't a heterosexual guy tell a heterosexual guy that his
booty is fly?" It's a delicious combination and the perfect
way to see in midnight on the fringe.
Celebrity choice: Demetri Martin in the
I saw Flight of the Conchords' High on Folk,
and thought it was so excellent. I think when you use music
with comedy, you're upping the ante. And those guys completely
deliver. They're good musicians, they're genuinely funny,
and the conversations they do between songs are so subtle
and really good.
The Scotsman - James Mullighan
No Puns, please, about crashing 1960s aeronautical
icons, or about Richard Branson snapping up a fleet of supersonic
craft. Were Branson to back this duo, it would be a wise investment.
Last year the scruffy New Zealand pair could scarcely get
arrested in the Gilded Balloon caves. Now they are the venue’s
number one ticket, thanks largely to constant tip-offs from
most of the Fringe’s big comics.
They describe themselves as "two acoustic
guitars and a microphone, and another microphone (and some
cabling)" or, even better, the "fourth most popular
folk-parodist duo in New Zealand". They are on to a rich
lode of comedy here and they calmly and efficiently mine it
dry. "We’re going to folk it up," "folk
it" and "folkenomenon".
"Folk" is a perhaps a misnomer,
however, unless Johnny Cash, Billy Bragg and Nick Cave all
belong in the same bag. The songs are well sung, better played
and simply bursting with comic invention: "How come we’ve
reached this fork in the road, yet it cuts like a knife?"
or "Is it cold in space, Bowie (would you like to borrow
my jumper?)". Have such gags been just sitting there
undiscovered for years? Comics everywhere, kick yourselves.
Later, some strummed hip hop becomes a dual
between the Hiphopapotamus and the Rhymeoceros. In between
songs there’s banter, which is "clever talking"
apparently, and it is so shamblingly self-effacing, ludicrously
silly and beautifully timed as to be enough for a show in
Overall, this is an hour with not one slack
moment, not a moment that doesn’t incite a grin, giggle
or gasp. It would take a greedy punter to ask for more than
Independent - Flight of the Conchords:
High on Folk By Steve Jelbert, 12 August 03
The description "comic's comic"
usually refers either to the more outré performers
whose singlemindedness can't help but induce a sneaking regard
or, more often, to those whose existence is a professionals'
secret that might not even be comprehended by non-adepts.
New Zealand's "fourth most popular
folk-parodists", Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement,
belong firmly in the latter category. Their second trip to
the festival shows two extremely talented comedians who play
off each other brilliantly, and have even mastered the rare
skill of penning convincingly amusing songs.
Based around the central conceit of two
folk musicians who really wish that they were bad-ass rappers
and who slip into cack-handed rhyme schemes at every opportunity,
the real story is the tension between the pair, or to be strictly
accurate, the lack of it. Clement is positively comatose at
times, and his robot impression is considerably more animated
than his usual state. His more uptight partner might have
a sexual thing going on with a dancing-flower toy, but nothing
ruffles Clement - even when he starts to confuse their brotherly
camaraderie for something more marital.
The pair are Spinal Tap's Tufnell
and St Hubbins with acoustic guitars, and this beautifully
played and highly self-aware show is a rare treat, forever
tripping over itself without losing sight of its premise.
FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS - Folk the World
To old and sore to rock out? Then folk out
with Flight of the Conchords at the Classic! Forget those
horrors of folk dancing circles at Primary School this is
folk of the new order and it's willing to take the people
anywhere. Someone should get these guys to play at a wedding
just to see if the guests notice.
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are obviously
talented musicians, and hey, if this whole comedy thing doesn't'
pan out they could always start a band…Then again, you
may have heard of The Black Seeds. I'm not sure how much to
give away as McKenzie could be hiding from his fans. You may
recognize him from such films as The Fellowship of the Ring,
you could see his face for almost a second - just long enough
for a few die hard fans in the US to devote themselves to
searching out everything they can about him. Stalkers / publicity
- it's a fine line.
Enough digressing, quite simply this
is one of the best shows of the festival. The dialogue is
convivial with a nice tone of sincerity (it's as if they really
do want a flock of woman to go out back and kiss them), their
lyrics guffawingly straight up and their music simply superb.
I would be hard pressed to come up with a favorite song. Getting
eaten by boat mates whilst lost at sea is a lovely number
but I think the song they originally did for 'another project',
one that instigated McKenzie's international moment of fame
is my favorite. My companion for the evening loved the Wellington
City Council Leggy blonde number as she has been / is, a victim
With a variety of supporting musicians whose
talents stretch from the trumpet to the triangle, their repertoire
and musical might built throughout the show. French folk Discotheque
Supermarche was a tribute to school learned French everywhere,
and then there was that case of time travel…Enough gushing,
in case you failed to notice these guys rocked; or rather,
folked! See them.
Holly Knill With thanks to goss from Bernie! Taken from
at the TV2 Laugh Festival
Laugh! Festival at the Classic and Underground
13.05.2002 By Francis Till
Flight of the Conchords is the act, and
music-comedy duo Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are the
mellifluously bantering core of what on Friday night turned
out to be a 10-piece ensemble band that assembled itself quite
magically during a club jazz opener as an over-capacity crowd
filtered into the Classic.
An extremely dry, deadpan wit is on display
here as Clement and McKenzie chat in a series of verbal riffs
that celebrate the unlikely and the preposterous to equally
rollicking effect. Meanwhile, the band comes and goes as necessary
to support the songs that are the pearls in this beaded string
of a performance. Clement and McKenzie are parodists of the
first order who happen to work through music. What really
sets them apart is the fact that the music itself is first-rate
- some of their songs deserve radio play - and it runs the
gamut from hip hop to bebop, with a fusion jazz underpinning.
Most acts in this genre simply reprise lyrics
to grab gags, but Clement and McKenzie score their own material,
top to bottom, and perform it with seasoned assurance. Of
particular note: the ballad for Paula Thompson (a guided tour
bus drive through an ordinary life in rural New Zealand),
and the mermaid song, an entire film and nightclub act wrapped
up with chips.
Folk The World - Flight of The Conchords
Apparently one of New Zealand’s top three folk bands
– though I’m not convinced the other two would
be as funny. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie are accomplished
guitarists, and competent singers, but this is a comedy show.
Cannibalism, groupies, dragons, a time warp Bowie, stationery
(particularly pencils) and Tony the Tour Bus operator all
feature in their lyrics, plus there’s an obligatory
Lord of the Rings reference thrown in too (they filmed it
in New Zealand don’t forget).
Some punchlines are lost through indistinct
pronunciation, but the audience heard didn’t seem to
mind, getting enough of the gags to stay laughing. A couple
more songs would have gone down well (and have finished the
show nearer the expected time), but what we got was good in
both musical and comedy terms.
twrating: 3/5 Taken from review at ThreeWeeks
review from Edinburgh Fringe 2002.
Another Fringe review here.
Pretty good too.
And because I like them so much
here is a Humourbeasts review thrown in for free!
Launching straight into their surreal style
of comedy with a run of funny visual gags, Taika Cohen and
Jemaine Clement soon get their audience laughing. And they
maintain momentum as they speed through sketches that skip
through memoirs and minds of mad inventors, and ‘the
magic of the theatre’, before an absurdly funny reversal
sequence as a finale. Some of the content is downright weird,
and you can’t help thinking if they were performed by
less competent comedians it would be embarrassing to watch.
But these boys have the ability to deliver the goods - performing
both visual and verbal humour with ease. New Zealand comedy
is lucky to have these two on its side.
Gilded Balloon Cave I, 2-26 August, 10.30pm (11.30pm), various
prices, fpp.33 twrating: 4/5 Taken from review at ThreeWeeks
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