10 Feb 2024

The accidental gender gods | existence and magnificence |

You must know two things about
Journey associated with Conchords
– the band and comedy act which movie stars New Zealanders Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. Very first, you need to understand that their unique eponymous tv program, which ran on BBC4 at the end of 2007, is extremely amusing. Component sitcom, part exhibit for McKenzie and Clement’s stirred collection of musical parodies, it highlights the musical organization’s fictional find it hard to get gigs and girls, land an archive offer, eat and simply perhaps not get mugged many times, after transferring from New Zealand to New york. Journey associated with Conchords is actually mild, nice and reassuringly personal; and an essential deviation for the UK comedy scene, that has been dominated by the dark of Ricky Gervais’s unlovable change egos going back four years.

Next, you must know about journey for the Conchords, because 31-year-old Bret McKenzie and 34-year-old Jemaine Clement represent next fantastic archetype in male sexiness. They may be on tipping point of gaining conventional acceptance with regards to their hotness, which means that you’re going to begin fancying all of them. Madly. I know this, partially since they were detailed saturated in salon.com’s 2007 Sexiest guys Alive list; and to some extent because there is that in the event that you mention their operate in a team circumstance – at a dinner celebration maybe – viewers while most in the assembled females can look at you blankly, because they haven’t however skilled the Conchords, at the very least a couple of all of them will begin hyperventilating at the really considered Bret and Jemaine, before launching themselves into breathless paeans about comparative virtues of every man.

McKenzie and Clement are extremely unlikely sex things. On screen, they don’t match with any existing notions on hotness. They truly are quite unlike the classically good-looking guys which monopolise this season’s Oscar nominations, including: the typically sexy Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Daniel Day-Lewis and Viggo Mortensen. McKenzie and Clement absolutely aren’t as Alpha as that good deal – they aren’t Alpha at all, actually. These are typically hopeless and hapless, bumbling and bemused. They’ve been vague. These include low-key, understated and understated to the point of really nearly becoming asleep. They truly are not at all harmful. Physically, they have been gawky and hairy and ungroomed. They wear fascinated clothes (pet appliqué jumpers, doubled-up denim, a swirly-blouse-focused ensemble that Clement defines as ‘Prince nevertheless when he’s simply visiting the shop or something – relaxed Prince’, and personal private fave, shrunken coordinating fabric suits). These are typically tall, in absolutely no way buff – McKenzie’s skinny, Clement defines themselves as ‘an ogre just who operates in a library’.

I fly to l . a ., in which trip from the Conchords are giving an uncommon market with all the hit, to see if i will make feeling of Conchord crave, close-up.

I shouldn’t be doing this.

There is a thin line between getting a journalist that’s uncovered some motivated and inspiring, hyper-exciting breakthrough act and who’s keen to fairly share stated act with as much other people as she are able to – and a journalist that is actually just a little of an obsessed stalker. We have crossed that range, and ambled into crazy area. I don’t consider i am unsafe. But I don’t know for definite.

Jet-lagged and sweaty-palmed, I go into the place of this resort in western Hollywood, the spot where the Conchords are waiting.

I will be right away struck by a few things: Clement is continuing to grow a mustache, and McKenzie is easy gobsmackingly beautiful, fine-featured and flawlessly skinned, an undeniable fact I’d for some reason overlooked until this point, probably because I would already been sidetracked by exactly how amusing and geeky he is.

Flight of the Conchords tend to be tired. They will have flown set for the few days from Wellington, where they insist they however stay (although they spent most of 2007 in ny and Los Angeles); via a gizmo exposition in nevada, at which they performed. They’ve been but in good feelings. They truly are giggly, they’ve been interested. They talk in monotone, New Zealand-accented music, obtaining for each other’s phrases, elaborating and finishing all of them off.

They aren’t totally enamoured regarding strong celeb, that is, people say, why they give couple of interviews. They don’t mind myself, they state, because my personal post will run into the UK, ‘which is distant’.

‘but it is great,’ states McKenzie, of the blossoming profile. ‘Or … its certainly an event. But I would personallyn’t state it’s fun.’


‘Yeah,’ says Clement. ‘No. We thought we had it perfect before, in that …’

McKenzie: ‘ … we can easily appear up to America and work, immediately after which go back to brand-new Zealand and go back to being us …

Clement: ‘ …and nobody would understand. And in addition we would from time to time say: “we have a TV tv series in the usa!” No you might think us.’

The guy laughs, a large, deafening laugh. McKenzie laughs, a breathier, girlier one.

‘nonetheless learn now.’

They quit laughing; they appear just a little glum.

Flight of Conchords couldn’t be prepared to end up being famous, notably less fancied on a worldwide foundation. Clement and McKenzie initially came across in 1998 at Victoria University in Wellington, in which these people were learning movie and theatre.

‘and then we happened to be in crisis pub,’ states McKenzie, ‘which had been like Footlights or something like that. Er, i do believe. From the things I can gather. It had been like a drama dance club, but …’

Clement: ‘It had been much less chummy than that. It was much more a random crowd …’

McKenzie: ‘It noises really Oxford. Once you say, “we had been in a crisis dance club together” it may sound different to just what it was … we had beenn’t performing Shakespeare productions.’

Clement: ‘they actually do! The drama nightclub would carry out Shakespeare productions!’

McKenzie: ‘But we just did this option comedy tv show. It had been 25 individuals, all undertaking a self-devised program about body image. And in addition we got randomly added to a small grouping of five dudes. And Jemaine and that I been in the same party.’

‘i possibly could tell Bret really was amusing immediately,’ claims Clement.

‘It was actually all pretty amusing,’ says McKenzie, ‘because the costume outfit was actually cycle short pants. Cotton type of bicycle short pants, skin-coloured. After which we’d this Velcro-y … you understand those pencils, those type of floppy tresses pencils that you have? Precisely what do you contact those?’

Er, like, Gonk hair pencils?

‘Gonk, is-it? With hair, red tresses? We’d those, with red locks, and then Velcro penises, so you may tear your penis off! Immediately after which wear these phony triangle situations …’

Clement: ‘So you’d have a triangle, a sort of mound of Venus, manufactured from Velcro; and a phony penis …’

McKenzie: ‘So there had been 25 individuals, all putting on these naked matches!’

Clement: ‘Yeah. Plus the females would wear fake tits … except that when Bret wore fake boobs …’

McKenzie: ‘Yis … I really dressed in fake tits, once we required a female figure.’

Clement: ‘And somebody would increase to Bret and tear his knob down! In which he would place their hands up and some body would affix artificial breasts! It was pretty amusing. Well. I discovered it very funny.’

Several months after the penis-ripping program debuted, McKenzie and Clement relocated in collectively. McKenzie took up the rental on a decrepit house, because the guy wished to carry out a comedy play in its yard as part of a festival in Wellington, which had been the only path the guy might get usage of it. ‘therefore i gathered with each other most of the friends that i possibly could discover …’

‘feels like a story!’ says Clement. ‘Sounds like a show!’

McKenzie: ‘particular seems like an American sitcom. Ha! Thus I gathered upwards seven buddies who had been ready to live truth be told there although we performed the tv series, and Jemaine was actually one of these. Therefore we relocated in.’

Clement: ‘And it really was, truly dropping apart. It actually was a student flat. It actually was just like the Kids.’

McKenzie: ‘It actually was really like The kids. The rats would take a seat on the ground watching TV around.’

Clement: ‘And talk!’

McKenzie: ‘They failed to chat, it was close. And in case they’d talked, we would have often heard all of them.’

Clement: ‘They were self-confident! Ha ha! Secure mice.’

McKenzie: ‘Very positive rat colony inside our household. A lot more self-confident than united states. So it ended up being sort of a strange strategy to move into this house. But we did the program and stayed truth be told there for a couple of years.’

They dropped out of college at the same time.

‘We decrease off the rails,’ claims Clement.


‘Ha! No.’

Somewhat, they sang. McKenzie played drums in several jazz groups, Clement developed different comedy acts together with other comedy consorts, both auditioned for TV ads.

Happened to be they committed?

They pause.

‘Er, variety of,’ says Clement, ultimately.

‘i do believe we had been challenging,’ claims McKenzie. ‘But not at all committed when compared to, like, the US realm of challenging. We go into meetings right here, and it’s really just so clear that people’re … different.’

They scraped by financially.

McKenzie: ‘I became always quite interested in this notion of a position and getting paid, weekly.’

Clement: ‘Yeah. Thus ended up being I.’

McKenzie: ‘the very thought of obtaining a pay cheque had been just … amazing.’

And they began composing tracks collectively. They taught by themselves electric guitar, attemptedto perform tracks that were too difficult for newbies, were unsuccessful, and began creating their particular songs alternatively. The comedy/musical work trip of this Conchords evolved after that. McKenzie and Clement are hazy in the schedule, and enthusiastic to point out that ‘we didn’t do it very often. For a time, we performed a gig perhaps as soon as a fortnight,’ claims McKenzie. ‘it was actually only a little five-minute thing, at a very low-key comedy evening. And frankly, more for one thing to carry out.’

‘Because we did not have jobs,’ says Clement.

But it had been persistently well received, so they really started getting it to celebrations – to Edinburgh, Calgary and Montreal. ‘Because we’re a duo,’ says McKenzie, ‘we’ve regularly type ebbed and flowed, although one person’s sensation like installing a bit of fuel, others you can pull back; or you’re both, like, egging both back with casualness.’

Clement: ‘therefore, like, certainly you will say: let us get and do that event! And the additional would be [aloof]: Oh. okay. Between united states, we manage to perform stuff. Ha! Miraculously.’

An HBO skill scout spotted all of them in Montreal in 2004, and welcomed these to the usa to go over a TV tv series.

‘It was surprisingly exciting: US people noticed us, and telephoned united states from America, and asked all of us in the future over and do a bit of shows!’ claims Clement. ‘It was actually merely interesting that a person from The united states had seen united states!’

They visited nyc and shot an one off show for a pilot. 1st show got greenlit this is why; and it’ll be to HBO’s eternal credit that this major US TV route ploughed money into this type of a kooky, un-American and understated affair.

Filming was actually difficult on their behalf. They would pursued just work at their own pace for quite some time; nyc was actually cold together with work, they say, felt overwhelming. They fretted on the tv series. They come to be nearly angst-ridden at the thought of it. ‘It’s really hard while don’t know if men and women are gonna like it. And then you watch 1st slice, while can’t stand it yourself. Immediately after which it gets repaired up and stuff, but in early stages you are going: Oh God, what have actually we completed?’

Clement had gotten pneumonia, they both destroyed a great deal body weight that ‘we appeared as if skeletons’, says McKenzie. And I think these people were homesick for Wellington. ‘I couldn’t really breathe. Or talk,’ says Clement. ‘Yeah, however it was actually remarkable …’ claims McKenzie. ‘It’s like, uh … truly high and then really low.’

If they heard there was to get the second series, both of them quit asleep. I get the feeling they are somewhat alleviated that the article authors’ hit is supporting your whole process.

Preciselywhat are their particular lasting strategies?

‘Survival!’ says Clement.

‘I would like to parody acid jazz and brand-new jack move,’ claims McKenzie.

‘I would like to wear as much denim as outfit designer will I want to pull off,’ claims Clement.

What about their unique celebrity, I ask. Where would that they like that to go?

‘Away!’ says McKenzie.

‘great answer,’ states Clement.

You can find, they grudgingly concede, pluses into the fame.

‘We got free of charge sneakers,’ states McKenzie.

They were also called Wellingtonians of the season.

Congratulations, we say.

‘thanks,’ says Clement; following, with pseudo-smugness: ‘Peter Jackson has actually claimed it.’

‘I know the gran,’ claims McKenzie.

‘and also you decided to go to that celebration,’ says Clement. ‘whenever David Beckham came to Wellington.’

‘real,’ states McKenzie. ‘But i did not be in.’

I tentatively approach the condition of their sex-symbol position.

Will they be aware ladies – er – value all of them?

There is a pause.

‘Well, we just get a weird feeling of what’s happening, in terms of the er, enthusiast, er, base, on the internet. But that is a fairly unusual view, because …’

McKenzie tails down.

It’s warped? We say.

‘Yis!’ says Clement.

My friends have either never ever been aware of you, or are insanely in love with you, we say.

‘You imply, when ladies learn, chances are they …’ states Clement.

Go wild more than you! Yes!

He giggles.


‘I guess … I haven’t really already been meeting here a lot,’ states Clement. ‘But we went out the other night, and four girls came up for me, and had been giggling, and leaping up and down, and …’ the guy laughs, shyly ‘ … therefore was actually rather odd. Specially because I’ve never really been that … positive about that … means. And to have ladies address myself by doing so … as a result it was various. And … it is types of my personal fantasy become a reality.’

So – not the worst thing in globally?

‘No!’ states Clement. ‘No!’

However they didn’t release by themselves to the music/comedy circuit with half a close look on what that will affect their unique possibilities with ladies, we ask. It wasn’t a major encouraging aspect, or anything?

‘Oh, yeah, it actually was!’ claims Clement. ‘completely!’

Carry out women try using them a lot more as artists, or as comedians, we ponder.

‘Ooooh!’ claims McKenzie. ‘hee-hee!’

‘In my opinion you can get different varieties of ladies per,’ says Clement.

‘so we make them both. Because we go between both,’ states McKenzie.

Which will be not totally correct.

While I found myself loitering inside the lodge lobby, looking forward to my personal allotted slot with Clement and McKenzie, I spotted two women. Two good-looking, hipster women, with excellent haircuts, sharp applications – and brand new Zealand accents. Two girls whom, it transpires, tend to be McKenzie and Clement’s fiancées.

We inform the Conchords that I came across their particular fiancées, which will be untrue – I would eavesdropped on it as they’d mentioned the general virtues of Hillary and Obama with Mara the HBO hit officer, but i did not really are able to present myself.

‘Oh, you found Hannah?’ says McKenzie.

Er … I say.

Clement says nothing.

The main point is, you’re involved and therefore not willing to take advantage of the raising legions of groupies, we state.

‘No,’ states Clement.

Bad time, I say.

‘Yeah,’ states Clement, downbeat.

McKenzie starts giggling.

‘It’s terrible being involved,’ claims Clement.

‘No!’ claims McKenzie. ‘Don’t say that!’

Clement laughs their big, loud laugh.

We chat much more: regarding tune Clement started the night time before ‘which is actually particular based on “Roxanne”‘; and regarding the waiter he came across in Wellington who mentioned he was constantly mistaken for McKenzie: ‘and whom we observed ended up being using a T-shirt with a dog upon it. Entirely working it. Yis.’ They let me know that, each time they enter a gathering with Hollywood industry powers they should explain to all of them beforehand that the actual fact that they could maybe not appear enthusiastic, they actually actually are, and it is just their New Zealand means. McKenzie concerns on how he’ll react if he’s previously in a club, and something of their songs is actually starred: ‘because that will be a nightmare. Awful. Awful. The hope.’ They tell me that their unique TV figures have key surnames. ‘I never state it. But I’m Jemaine Clemaine,’ states Clement. ‘And I’m Bret McClegnie,’ claims McKenzie. And then they chuckle in addition they laugh.

Its now that We dissolve into fannish gibbering, which they take-in good spirit; but i understand it’s probably for you personally to go. You will find at the very least was able to navigate all of our time collectively without wanting to touch just one of them.

Am I able to deconstruct their unique sexiness much better now i have met them?

Clearly, they truly are amusing, that’s traditionally beautiful. And they’re brilliant performers, that will be usually gorgeous also; the comedy factor in their unique music doesn’t detract from that. And possibly, countless their own charm is in their unique un-Alpha-ness. Possibly we are tiring, eventually, of self-entitled, self-consciously effective guys, and starting to want something somewhat less apparent. But i believe above all, this is the blend of Bret and Jemaine, which can be gorgeous. This is the nearest right females can hot boy-on-boy motion. As salon.com put it:

‘A guy with an electric guitar is actually hot. A guy with an accent is actually hot. And a guy who is able to create all of us make fun of is truly, actually hot. Just what, after that, might be better than a guy whom embodies the above? Two men, who do. And although we possibly may love McKenzie for his reedy shyness and Clement for his inexplicable overconfidence, that which we love finest about them is exactly how appealing they truly are with each other.’

Really right. And, to people people who haven’t already dropped for journey with the Conchords: prepare yourself for the determining crush of 2008.


Series 1 of Flight of this Conchords is on DVD, £12.97, amazon.co.uk. The EP The Distant Future, £6.98