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Monday, May 31, 2010

Over the Weekend: Flight of the Conchords

Posted By on Mon, May 31, 2010 at 10:01 AM


Flight of the Conchords
@ The Greek Theater
May 28 2010

Better than: any kind of complimentary muffin.

There were several people dressed up in giant tin foil covered boxes parading around as robots Friday night waiting for the Flight of the Conchords to take off. The sold out crowd at the Berkeley Greek Amphitheater was full of homemade signs with silly exclamations. "I heart u sugarlumps!" read one poster in the back of the audience.

The two comedian openers barely got everyone ramped up for the hilarity that ensued. Eugene Mirman, who plays himself on the Flight of the Conchords HBO series, regaled the audience with the story of how he had once met a twelve-year-old boy with Asperger's Disorder who was convinced that he was God. "Religion is not a leap of faith; it's a high functioning autistic little boy," was Mirman's summative remark. He also explained how he has been trying to infiltrate the Tea Party's political organization. Mirman printed out a handful of fake logos he has tried to post on the tea party website; one read, "I'm not racist, I like my tea black".

A native Bay Area boy, Arj Barker, who plays the character of Dave on Flight of the Conchords, followed Mirman with a quick stand-up set of his own. He got deeper with the audience by saying, "I'm political, I care about sh*t." The effect left the audience in giggling shambles. He poked fun at the recent volcanic eruption in Iceland, the movie Avatar, and the BP oil spill (which was a little hard to laugh at).

When Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement sauntered on stage and took their seats at their respective stools, the audience went wild. Jemaine said, "Thank you," repeatedly in such a genuine manner that he only encouraged everyone to whoop and holler more. As soon as they broke into their first song, "Robots", off their 2007 EP The Distant Future, everyone started singing along. They followed their first song with another crowd-pleaser off the same album, "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)".

Bret and Jemaine don't make jokes about funny things. Instead, they take completely ordinary situations and through their innocent and dynamic storytelling, they create the most comical and entertaining sketches that aren't about anything. At one point, the boys spent a good ten minutes discussing the "crazy complimentary muffins" a hotel they were staying at left on their bedside tables. It left everyone in stitches.

The duo sat mainly on two stools, center stage. They played two acoustic guitars and occasionally swapped instruments for a drum pad or a synthesizer. Bret did a rare karaoke performance of their foreign language song, "Oh Dance Baby", which had an accompanying weird music video shown on screens on the sides of the stage. They brought down the house with riveting versions of "Too May Dicks (On the Dance Floor)" and "Jenny".

When they started rapping their song "Hurt Feelings" the audience cried with laughter. In between songs, Bret and Jemaine carried out a long-winded conversation about charities. "We're into anything that Bono's into," cried Bret at one point. They then went on to talk about saving whales, because whales can't call emergency services with their big flippers.

The final song of their set, "Bowie", was off their first album Folk the World Tour. The lights went black and came up a few seconds later, to find Bret and Jemaine in sparking sequined shirts. After the final number, it was plain to see that the audience didn't want them to leave. "If we don't go now," Jemaine said, "we'll end up living here." The reaction he received for saying that was the cacophonous sound of adoration, which they completely deserved.

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Carla Selvin


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