Flight of the Conchords

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Flight of the Conchords
Flight of the Conchords @ Gramercy, 2007.jpg
Jemaine Clement (left) and Bret McKenzie (right) performing at Gramercy Theatre in New York on 14 June 2007
Background information
Origin Wellington, New Zealand
Genres Comedy, alternative rock, acoustic, parody folk, Hip hop
Years active 1998–present
Labels Sub Pop, Flight of the Conchords Music, BBC Audiobooks
Associated acts So You're a Man, The Black Seeds, The Humourbeasts, Rhys Darby, Kristen Schaal, Arj Barker
Website flightoftheconchords.co.nz
Members Jemaine Clement
Bret McKenzie

Flight of the Conchords is a New Zealand-based comedy band composed of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. The duo's comedy and music became the basis of a BBC radio series and then an American television series, which premiered in 2007 on HBO, also called Flight of the Conchords. They used to refer to themselves as "New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo", however now are "the almost award-winning fourth-most-popular folk duo in New Zealand."[1]

They were named Best Alternative Comedy Act at the 2005 US Comedy Arts Festival and Best Newcomer at the Melbourne Comedy Festival, and they received a nomination for the Perrier Comedy Award at the 2003 Edinburgh Festival Fringe for their show at Edinburgh venue The Caves. The duo's live performances have gained them a worldwide cult following.[2]

Career history[edit]

McKenzie and Clement were flatmates at Victoria University of Wellington, where they were studying film and theatre before forming Flight of the Conchords in 1998. They first performed as part of a five-man group called So You're a Man, which included Taika Waititi and debuted at Wellington's iconic BATS Theatre, garnering a small but loyal following in New Zealand and Australia.[3]


The band performed its first televised performances over four nights (3–6 May 2000) on Newtown Salad, a show on Wellington's short-lived local TV station "Channel 7" (later renamed "WTV"). The songs, in order, were "Bowie", "Ladies of the World", "Petrov, Yelyena and Me", and "Hotties".[4]

They performed at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2002 and 2003, when they were nominated for the Perrier Award.[5] They also performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival where they won the Best Newcomer Award. They were later featured in a 2004 campaign for British mobile phone retailer Phones 4U.[6] They were also featured on Australia's ABC TV in the show Stand Up![7]

HBO gave the group a special on their Friday night half-hour stand-up comedy series One Night Stand. They then headlined at the opening weekend at Comix comedy club where they recorded two tracks included on 2007's "The Distant Future". They also performed at the South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, Texas. During their visit to Texas, they recorded a documentary titled Flight of the Conchords: A Texan Odyssey, which aired on New Zealand's TV3 in late 2006.[8]

In June 2007, the band performed on the Late Show with David Letterman[9] and were also interviewed by Terry Gross on the NPR radio show Fresh Air. The band appeared at the 2007 Bonnaroo Music Festival in Manchester, Tennessee.[10] The EP The Distant Future was released. It was produced by Mickey Petralia and recorded in Los Angeles and New York by Petralia and engineer Matt Shane. The live portions were taken from concerts at Comix comedy club in New York City. On 19 June 2007, Flight of the Conchords appeared as the musical guests on Late Night with Conan O'Brien.[11]

In January 2008, the band spoke and performed as part of Comcast's presentation at CES 2008.[12] On 10 February 2008, the band won the Grammy for best comedy album for The Distant Future.[13]

On 13 February 2008, Flight of the Conchords had their first post-Grammy concert, a freebie show, at a small Wellington video store called Aro Video.[14] On 5 March 2008, Jemaine & Bret performed at a private show at 'The Depot' in Salt Lake City, Utah. The performance was for the 2008 Omniture web analytics conference. The following day, Flight of the Conchords performed in Cahn Auditorium at Northwestern University. On 24 April 2008, Jemaine and Bret played a free show at Amoeba Music in Hollywood, California. On 28 May 2008, Flight of the Conchords performed at the Google I/O conference in San Francisco. The band performed on the Main Stage of the Sasquatch! Music Festival on Monday 26 May 2008 at The Gorge Amphitheatre in central Washington State. On 12 July 2008, Flight of the Conchords performed at Sub Pop's 20th Anniversary Music Festival. On 31 March 2009, the duo performed in Masterton New Zealand to 2000 locals as a benefit for Jemaine's old college Makoura College raising around NZ$80,000 prior to setting off on a 50 date tour of the US. They also appeared on the season four finale of Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! replacing Tim and Eric briefly during a high-stakes game of tennis.

Flight of the Conchords performing at Cirkus in Stockholm, Sweden in May 2010.

The duo guest starred as a pair of camp counselors in "Elementary School Musical", the season premiere of the 22nd season of The Simpsons, which aired 26 September 2010.[15]

On 23 August 2013, Flight of the Conchords co-headlined the Oddball & Curiosity Festival with Dave Chappelle, kicking off the tour in Austin, Texas. Kristen Schaal also performed on the tour, playing all dates except the final show 22 September 2013 in Phoenix, AZ.[16]

BBC radio series[edit]

In 2004, the band created a radio series for BBC Radio 2.[17] Largely improvised, the series was based on the band's search for commercial success in London. It featured Rob Brydon as their narrator,[17] Rhys Darby as their manager and Jimmy Carr as a devoted fan called Kipper. The radio series is clearly a progenitor of the television series: the plot is similar (the band arriving in a foreign country to make their fortune; Rhys Darby playing their manager and calling band meetings; and many of the songs were later used in the television series).[18]

The BBC Radio 2 series won the duo the Bronze Sony Radio Academy Award for comedy.[19]

HBO television series[edit]

The duo starred in a television series for HBO, titled Flight of the Conchords, which premiered in the United States in June 2007. The series simultaneously premiered in Canada on The Movie Network and Movie Central, and was also shown on The Comedy Network.

The fictional series revolves around the pair as they try to achieve success as a band in New York City and try to develop an American fan base. The regular cast includes fellow comedians Rhys Darby as Murray, Arj Barker as Dave, and Kristen Schaal as their obsessed fan Mel. This show also features many other comedians in guest starring roles. Their songs are woven into the plot of each episode. The first season consisted of 12 episodes. The show received an Emmy nomination for Best Comedy.[20] The show was shot primarily in the Two Bridges neighborhood of Manhattan.

The second season of Flight of the Conchords started on HBO on 18 January 2009. The first episode of the second season premiered online on Funny or Die a few weeks early on 17 December 2008.[21] On 21 December, the first episode of Flight of the Conchords, season two, became available for online viewing on a variety of additional platforms including HBO.com, iTunes and HBO's YouTube channel.[22] The second season consisted of 10 episodes.

On 10 December 2009, the duo and co-creator/director James Bobin announced via their website that the show would not return for a third season.[23]

Surprisingly, given their success outside New Zealand, Bret and Jemaine are rumoured to have had project proposals continually denied funding by New Zealand public television. As Brannavan Gnanalingam notes in The Lumiere Reader, rumour has it that NZ TV3 denied funding because Bret and Jemaine's humour was deemed "too Wellington", meaning their humour would not work with the average New Zealander outside of Wellington.[24]

Film appearances[edit]

Both Bret and Jemaine, alongside Rhys Darby, appeared in a horror comedy titled Diagnosis: Death, though not as Flight of the Conchords. The film was released on 3 August 2009. They have also each appeared in several films separately; Jemaine in Men in Black 3, Eagle vs Shark, Dinner for Schmucks, Gentlemen Broncos, and Muppets Most Wanted and Bret in The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring, The Muppets, Two Little Boys, Austenland (film). Additionally, the song "I'm Not Crying" appears in the film The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists. In 2014, both Jemaine and Rhys Darby starred in the horror comedy mockumentary titled "What We Do in the Shadows", directed by Jemaine and Taika Waititi.


Extra video content can be seen on the HBO Flight of the Conchords site, for example Dave's Pawn Shop Video.[25] In May 2010, Bret and Jemaine also appeared in a web video on bbc.co.uk in which they officially opened the BBC's Comedy website.[26]

Reunion, tour, and film[edit]

In an interview with Vulture, Bret said that plans were in the works for a reunion tour in 2012 and that he and Jemaine were discussing a Flight of the Conchords movie.[27] On 28 November 2011, Bret McKenzie stated that efforts were being made to bring the comedy folk duo to the big screen. He said: "We're going to try and do a movie. We just need a story".[28] However, HBO has stated they themselves do not have plans for such a film.[29]

It was confirmed in March 2012, that a full 10 show tour of larger New Zealand venues was in place for June 2012. Tickets went on sale on 23 March, with the premium seats at each venue only available in person at the box office, to prevent scalping. All original shows sold out within 10 minutes once they were released on general sale.

For Red Nose Day 2012, the duo recorded a charity single composed of lyrics volunteered by Auckland and Wellington school children, titled "Feel Inside (And Stuff Like That)".[30][31] The song features performances from other New Zealand celebrities, including Dave Dobbyn, Brooke Fraser, Boh Runga, Sam Scott, Luke Buda, Savage, Young Sid, Tyree, Deach, PNC, Zowie, Ruby Frost, Kids of 88, Rikki Morris, Moana Maniapoto, Nathan King, Maitereya, Victoria Girling-Butcher, Elizabeth Marvelly, Peter Urlich and Cherie Mathieson.[32][33] The song entered at number one on the New Zealand Singles Chart, becoming their first number one and was certified Platinum, selling over 15,000 copies in its first week.[34]


Award Awarded for Awarded at
Bronze (Comedy) BBC Radio Series Sony Radio Academy Awards 2006
Grammy for Best Comedy Album The Distant Future 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards 2008 [35]
Album of the Year Flight of the Conchords New Zealand Music Awards 08
Best Group Flight of the Conchords New Zealand Music Awards 08
Breakthrough Artist of the Year Flight of the Conchords New Zealand Music Awards 08
International Achievement Flight of the Conchords New Zealand Music Awards 08

Other achievements[edit]

  • On 15 November 2007, The Dominion Post awarded Clement and McKenzie with the 2007 Arts Wellys, and named them the 2007 Wellingtonians of the Year.
  • Time magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 5 New TV Series of 2007, ranking it at #2
  • Entertainment Weekly named Flight of the Conchords the seventh best show of 2007.
  • Flight of the Conchords was nominated for two Emmys in 2008, for Best Writing (Comedy Series) and Best Directing (Comedy Series).
  • Flight of the Conchords placed three songs in the Triple J Hottest 100, 2008: "Business Time" #19, "The Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)" #60, and "Hiphopopotamus Vs Rhymenoceros" #67.
  • Flight of the Conchords had 3 more songs placed the following year, (Triple J Hottest 100, 2009): with "Too Many Dicks (On The Dance Floor)" at #86, "Hurt Feelings" at #30, and "Carol Brown" at #24
  • Clement was nominated for the 2009 Emmy for Best Actor (Comedy Series).
  • In 2012, McKenzie won the Academy award for Best Original Song for "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets.



Year Title UK U.S. NZ Aus Can Label
2002 Folk the World Tour Flight of the Conchords Music
2006 The BBC Radio Series: Flight of the Conchords BBC Audiobooks Ltd
2007 The Distant Future (EP) 116 14 Sub Pop
2008 Flight of the Conchords 32 3 1 37 34
2009 Pencils in the Wind (7" Single) [36]
I Told You I Was Freaky 47 10 7 69
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.


Year Title NZ
2012 "Feel Inside (And Stuff Like That)" 1


  1. ^ "What the Folk!". Retrieved 20 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Conchords Take Flight on Prime". Prime TV. 16 August 2007. 
  3. ^ Itzkoff, Dave. New in Town, Talking Funny. The New York Times. 10 June 2007.
  4. ^ "Youtube video:"Newtown Salad" Channel 7, Wellington". 
  5. ^ "if.comedy — Past winners". Retrieved 25 August 2007. 
  6. ^ "What the Folk! – Vision". What the Folk!. Retrieved 25 August 2007. 
  7. ^ "Stand Up!" (Press release). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 2 June 2004. 
  8. ^ "Flight of the conchords: A Texan Odyssey". What the Folk!. Retrieved 25 August 2007. 
  9. ^ McIntee, Michael Z. "Monday, 11 June 2007: Show #2768". Retrieved 25 August 2007. 
  10. ^ "Bonnaroo.com — Flight of the Conchords". Bonnaroo.com. Archived from the original on 19 May 2007. Retrieved 11 August 2007. 
  11. ^ "Late Night with Conan O'Brien". 19 June 2007. Retrieved 11 December 2012. 
  12. ^ "YouTube – Comcast / Flight of the Conchords at CES 2008". Youtube.com. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "GRAMMY.com". GRAMMY.com. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  14. ^ "Secret Conchords show packs tiny store (+photos, video) – New Zealand's source for entertainment news, gossip & music, movie & book reviews on". Stuff.co.nz. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  15. ^ Strachan, Alex (2 August 2010). "Gleeful over Glee: Cory Monteith to appear on The Simpsons". Canada.com. Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  16. ^ "Oddball Festival". oddballfest.com. Retrieved 28 August 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "The Flight of the Conchords". BBC — Radio 2 Comedy. 29 September 2005. Retrieved 25 August 2007. 
  18. ^ Flight of the Conchords: best new sitcom in years?. The Guardian.
  19. ^ "Radioawards.org". Archived from the original on 30 December 2006. Retrieved 11 January 2007. 
  20. ^ Flight of the Conchords makes Emmys shortlist (+photos). New Zealand Herald. 27 June 2008.
  21. ^ "Season 2 Online Premiere – Flight of the Conchords". Funnyordie.com. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2014-04-20. 
  22. ^ "The Futon Critic". 
  23. ^ "December 10". Flight of the Conchords. 20 May 2010. Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  24. ^ "'Flight of the Conchords – Definitely in the Top 3'". Lumiere.net.nz. 13 February 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2010. 
  25. ^ "HBO Flight of the Conchords website". 19 May 2010. 
  26. ^ "Flight of the Conchords on bbc.co.uk/comedy". 19 May 2010. 
  27. ^ "Bret McKenzie on Songwriting for The Muppets, Jason Segel’s Power Ballad, and Teaching Chris Cooper to Rap". 28 November 2011. 
  28. ^ "Flight Of The Conchords announce plans for a movie | Film & TV News". Nme.Com. 29 November 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  29. ^ "Flight of the Conchords movie rumours dismissed - Story - Entertainment". 3 News. 1 December 2011. Retrieved 2 April 2012. 
  30. ^ 8/27/12 8:30am 8/27/12 8:30am. "Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement Cure Kids with New Flight of the Conchords Song". Gawker.com. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  31. ^ "Flight of the Conchords Return With New Song 'Feel Inside (And Stuff Like That)' (Video)". Hollywoodreporter.com. 27 August 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  32. ^ "Red Nose Day Comedy For Cure Kids - Shows". TV3. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  33. ^ "Flight of the Conchords Aid Kids". TimeWastesTooFast.com. 28 August 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  34. ^ "NZ Top 40 Singles Chart | The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Nztop40.co.nz. 3 September 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  35. ^ "Past Winners Search GRAMMY.com". grammy.com. The Recording Academy. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  36. ^ Sub Pop Records (25 January 2009). "Pencils in the Wind". 

External links[edit]