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Rhys Darby Laughs It Up In Auckland

Monday 3 December 2007

He's one of New Zealand's premier comedians (even though he now lives abroad) but Rhys Darby is back to entertain us for a handful of shows!

He's recently been on our screens as hapless manager Murray Hewitt in the HBO comedy show "The Flight of the Conchords" but live is truly where Rhys shines and excels.

His first show in Auckland sold out within days of being listed on Eventfinder - and the organisers at the Classic Comedy Bar on Queen Street were urged to ask him if he'd put on another couple of shows.

Thankfully he said yes. There are two more chances to see the show on 10 December and 12 December.

Eventfinder was lucky enough to get a few minutes with Rhys ahead of his shows and on his return to New Zealand.

He was nominated for the prestigious Billy T Award back in 2001 and 2002, and since then it's been a non-stop ride for Rhys Darby.

His stand up performance captured audiences when he first started out, mixed as it was with telling stories and providing sound effects and mime for the crowds. After winning an open mic contest at Southern Blues Bar in Christchurch, he began to get a feel for the comedy circuit. But it was getting the chance to perform at two international comedy festivals which led to Darby moving up to Auckland to seek more solo stand-up experience. In 2002, after performing his first solo show in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Darby moved to the UK to pursue his career further.

More recently, Rhys has become synonymous with New Zealand's very own comedy folk performers, the Flight of the Conchords.

His performance as their manager on a UK radio series was so successful, it gave him the chance to breathe life into the character on the recent HBO series (which has just finished screening on Prime TV.) But his role as Murray Hewitt has also attracted the attention of some of the Hollywood bigwigs and as a result, he's just spent the past two months filming a role in the new Jim Carrey film, "Yes Man."

Eventfinder spent a bit of time with Rhys in Auckland ahead of his dates back at the Classic Comedy Bar.

EventFinder: So what's it like to be back in New Zealand after living and working in both New York and London?

Rhys Darby: It's great to be back - and it's also great to be playing Auckland once again; it's always felt like home to me as I enjoy performing on the stage here.

EF: What can audiences expect from the show?

RD: Well, it's going to be a mix of stuff from the past 6 years and also some new material - stories about mermaids, spaceships, whales; basically, a whole range of things that people talk about in everyday life!

EF: The shows in Auckland are being used as a try out for a dvd recording in LA next year - is it important that you get to test the material out and have the audience be part of that whole organic experience?

RD: Yeah, it's important to me to make sure the material isn't just about New Zealand and has a global feel to it and can translate to audiences across the world as the DVD will be released globally.

EF: Obviously a lot of people will recognise you from your appearance as band manager Murray on the TV show "The Flight of the Conchords" - which was made in America; without trying to put the boot into New Zealand television programmers, was it odd that this show about Kiwis was made abroad?

RD: No, not really - I think ultimately it worked out for the best as the show is about two New Zealanders in New York; it may not have been such a successful show if it was about two Kiwis in, say, Wellington. It's also about the band manager who's a Kiwi trying to find his way in a foreign country.

EF: So when can we expect more?

RD: Well, with the writers' strike on in America at the moment, there's not much being done - we're hoping some time in June. The boys (Bret and Jemaine of the Conchords) need to write some more songs for the series.

EF: Obviously the show's been quite successful for you as Hollywood executives saw your role and you ended up with a part in the new Jim Carrey film, "Yes Man". How was that?

RD: It was a great experience working with Jim; he was good to work with on the set and traded tips with me - it was amazing to me that a Hollywood person had seen this character on TV and thought I would be perfect for the role.

EF: Your son, Finn, is two years old at the moment - are you hoping one day that he'll follow in your footsteps?

RD: If he wants to that would be great - I'd like him to be a spaceman but my wife thinks a career as an accountant would be better for him.

EF: Maybe he could get a job as an accountant in space?

RD: (laughing) Yeah, am not sure how the tax laws lie in space! But if he wants to follow my footsteps in entertainment, I'll support him all the way.

So it's clear Rhys' star is very much in the ascendance and you should head to these extra shows on 10 December and 12 December as it's a chance to sample the show which will be filmed in LA for a DVD release later next year.