Flight of the Conchords
Nob Hill Masonic Center
Review by Jennifer Maerz
May 27, 2008
Fans of the Conchords: An audience review roundup, from the hand-fracturing clappers to the forced laughers
Every big act attracts its signature crowd, people you could characterize without even setting foot in the venue where their favorite bands are playing. But a musical comedy act is going to draw more memorable characters than most. It's clear just from attending a regular comedy gig that some ticket holders are aching to be part of the show, whether or not they’re consciously blurting gibberish from the other side of a beer bottle.
Flight of the Conchords, a musical act that creates deadpan parodies of being a musical act, attracted an audience that was itself something of a show (and a parody) last night. Certain forcibly loud laughers and insistent song requesters (one gal for "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymnocerous," who, after being teased by Flight of the Conchords, was rewarded with the song) were just as much a part of things as Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement, the New Zealanders who became hits on HBO and Sub Pop for such tender songs as the monogamous sex funk track “Business Time.”
I could go into detail about all the ways Flight of the Conchords were funny live (in short: those hilarious songs from their TV show and CD were still very laugh-worthy live. But add a good amount of deadpan banter about things like Bret being a great kisser who “knows all the kisses, like all the kisses that just came out this month,” or the fact that Jemaine boasted about getting “40 blowjobs backstage,” and you have a reason to log on to Ticketmaster early the next time they come to town). But I’d rather review the Flight of the Conchords fans, since, as mentioned, their responses were also performances in and of themselves.
The ready-set-ovationers: This faction was attached to invisible springs, antsy to be launched from their seats so they could rapidly bash their hands together. Bret and Jemaine had only just walked from the side of the stage to their stools and the applause had already moved from welcoming to enthusiastic to orgiastic. The minute the Conchords finished their last song, these fans were already vertical, pleading for the encore with a standing ovation like a Labrador pleads for its morning walk. On the plus side, this type beats the jaded arm crossers in enthusiasm; they're in full support of having a good time. On the negative side, if you’re at all misanthropic, all that good cheer will only turn you into an evil, hateful person.
The theatrical laughers: Not content to merely enjoy the jokes, these Number One Fans performed jarring laughs of the sort that insure everyone sitting within ten rows understands they’ve memorized all the Flight of the Conchords lyrics. They’ll even go so far as to guffaw at high volume when nothing particularly funny is happening (Jemaine knocks his toy sax against the mic! Hilarious!) No mere gigglers, the theatrical laughers forced out their appreciation like they were hacking up hairballs – these were painful, violent vocal contortions, often followed by loud affirmations of their random insider knowledge (“I love their use of doppelgangers!”)
The eager understudies: Due to repeated listening sessions with Flight of the Conchords material, these fans had memorized lyrics to even the most obscure Flight of the Conchords songs. Unlike the actual duo, their lines often don't come out on cue: certain eager understudies loudly blurt out punchlines (“Jacques Cousteau!”) before their time, only disappointing nearby patrons who thought these fans had really done their homework. (See also: the eager repeaters, the pair who insists on parroting the best of the Conchords' punchlines to one another the second after they're said into the mic).
The lusty ladies: Bret and Jemaine are undoubtedly sex symbols at this point in their career -- regular looking dudes with self-depreciating humor and long monologues about having imaginary children and wives are very attractive these days. Last night a couple females showed up with signs that said “Have my babies” (Jemaine read these out loud and responded by saying, “We’re going to need a nursery soon.”). Other women hadn’t come as prepared, but were willing to leap across seats to catch the black sweat rags the guys tossed in exaggerated motion to the crowd.
The breast man: He yelled out “Please, Boobs!” as a request. Flight of the Conchords have a boobs song? I’m ashamed that I did not know this.
The hand-fracturing clappers: Fairly self-explanatory. Every third song or so they would smash their palms together so hard I’d swear there was a bone fracture in the making there.
The sedentary farter: It’s one thing if you wolfed down your meal from Shalimar too quickly (the show did have an early start time) and are feeling the repercussions from the moment Flight of the Conchords played “The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room).” It’s another if you refuse to move around after you detonate. At seated events, stinking up the adjacent rows is unacceptable if you can’t at least create a draft that takes the p.u. along with you.
The ear-plugger: Trying to pretend like she’s fixing her hair if you look her way, this woman is really plugging her ears with both fingers for most of the set. The exact reasons for her ear-pain are a mystery; she could be responding to hand-fracturing clapper or the eager understudies, or it could just be Bret’s wild keytar soloing (which moved from the stage, down the aisle, out one door, back in through another aisle, and down to the stage again).
The cranky journalist: Unable (or unwilling) to just sit and enjoy the show like everyone else, she’s spending the whole Flight of the Conchords set scribbling notes into a dark notebook she’s not even going to be able to read later. She doesn’t even clap loudly because there’s always a pen in her hand. Most likely just grumpy because she didn’t use that extra Memorial Day holiday to catch up on sleep, she writes a stupid review of the fans at a show when she should’ve just written about the band.