Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rhys Darby: Imagine That!

WHAT: 1-hour special of Flight of the Conchords' Murray
WHEN: You probably missed it, and that's OK
GOOD IF: You are not below 40

Have you ever wondered what it might look like if New Zealand tried to make a comedy special with the look and feel of something that would air after a Gallagher special on early 1980s HBO? Well, someone made it for you.

Aired as an anchor in a Conchords-themed special on Comedy Central, Rhys Darby made this special which, as far as can be told, started life as a direct-to-DVD comedy special sold overseas, licensed for air in the USA. Most of the material seems almost warm and fuzzy, while not necessarily funny, with occasional outbursts of cursing. Which doesn't seem to go well together.

(The promo is a little misleading, as the Rhys Darby in the wrapper segments is much more likable than the one performing.)

The comic lacks a clear voice, this special seems like it saw production before Darby managed to put together a really solid chunk of material. The more savvy comedy fan may initially view the show as being a joke about some of the hacky material you've seen other comedians do 20 years ago, then you find out that this is the actual show. He's really making jokes about mimes, and inkblot tests, and sheep.

While repetition is important in comedy, the amount of unnecessary callbacks to his robot bit don't get funnier as the shows go on. He keeps doing them, and other little beeps and blips and helicopter impressions, but it's nothing you haven't seen before. There's a lack of wit which was replaced by a light version of the career of Michael "Police Academy" Winslow.

Considering the likes of Eugene Mirman and Arj Barker were excellent supporting players on Conchords and genuinely funny on their own, it's a shame that Darby didn't produce the same kind of special. Imagine That! proves surprisingly bland for a performer that just recently came out of a highly regarded paid cable TV series. If you really dig Murray on Flight of the Conchords, do yourself a favor: hold on to that memory, and just watch DVDs of the HBO show instead. You're welcome.

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