Flight of the Conchords w/ Eugene Mirman @ The Riverside Theater
May 2, 2009
Flight of the Conchords took to the stage in homemade robot costumes, grinding to the Daft Funk electro-house of “Too Many Dicks on the Dancefloor,” but within a song the New Zealand comedy duo had taken their rightful stool perches, having swapped their costumes for the acoustic guitars with which they’d spend most of the evening. “We’d like to thank those robots who opened the show,” Jemaine Clement quipped.
Though their hit HBO sitcom suggests a more manic pace, Conchords’ concerts are low-key affairs, with the duo channeling The Smothers Brothers’ easy straight-man/straight-man dynamic. Lest anyone confuse their ample spoken banter for “a cappella jams,” Clement warned early on their show involved plenty of “professional talking—it’s similar to the talking that you do at home, just more professional.”
The Conchords toured through the Riverside Theater just a year ago, but their show was sharper and funnier this time out, with new, more varied routines. It helped, of course, that last year’s barbarous audience had been substituted for a far more welcoming one, at least at the first of their two shows Saturday (the 10 p.m. crowd was predictably brasher, but containable nonetheless).
Mirthful lyrics are only half of the Conchords’ routine; the real joke is how fully they grasp both the boldest conventions and subtlest nuances of music spanning The Statler Brother’s plucky country to Serge Gainsbourg’s coy pop to Prince’s salacious funk. In a sign of their newfound polish the group even introduced a third Conchord, a lone cellist introduced as “the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra” who further colored the duo’s astute genre send-ups.
“Different, but just as good,” to quote an infamously unpopular commercial for a local FM station, was opener Eugene Mirman. While other observational stand-ups denounce life’s absurdities, Mirman combats them on their own terms, responding for instance, to Delta Airline’s comically scattered costumer service with a wild counterassault when the airline lost his luggage. In his written communications with Delta, he thanked them for recreating “for all Americans what it must have been like to be black in 1955,” then demanded $10,000 or controlling stock in their company, “whichever is greater.” When the airline finally sent him a check for his missing luggage, he used it to print thousands of postcards addressed to Delta, featuring a crying, crayon-drawn stick figure screaming “I hate you,” then passed them out to the crowd at the end of his set.
Photo by CJ Foeckler