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 of Earth.

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 Telegraph

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 itself.

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 that.

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. Highly recommended.



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 of both.                                                                                                      

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

Chortle 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!

Humouroids Humourbeasts

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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