Yesterday, I happened onto Flight of the Conchords, an old favorite of mine. Flight of the Conchords features the New Zealand comedy duo of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. Beginning as a live comedy act in the early 2000s, the duo’s comedy and music became the basis of the self-titled BBC radio series in 2004 and then the HBO television series (2007–2009). I found Flight of the Conchords hilarious. Not everyone agreed. So, I was uplifted in 2009 when Anjani Thomas spontaneously informed me that she and Leonard Cohen were big fans of the show. It turns out that Bret and Jemaine were admirers of Leonard as well.
There’s so much interpretation open to music anyway. A lot of people think Leonard Cohen is the most depressing singer but he’s one of my favorite singers. No, my favorite singer I’ll say, and I find a lot of his lines really hilarious and clever and funny. But other people don’t connect to them like that.
One time we were backstage at a Leonard Cohen concert and we thought we might get to meet him and I remember being quite nervous, but then he never came out and I had quite a sense of relief. Meeting heroes like that, you worry about what you’re gonna say and do. I don’t mind that we didn’t.
Are there any ‘serious’ artists out there you think have a comedic touch that gets overlooked?
Bret McKenzie: A lot of my favourite songwriters have a sense of humour in their songs… Leonard Cohen has so many great, dark, funny lyrics – “I fought against the bottle, but I had to do it drunk”.3
As a comedian who inspires you and as a musician who inspires you?
McKenzie: I listen to a lot of different music. Comedy-wise, it’s probably more films than stand-up; I’m not really a big stand-up fan. I do like Mitch Hedberg though, I think he’s one of the few stand-ups that I would sit down and listen to. Music-wise, I listen to everything. Leonard Cohen, Randy Newman, I guess I like a lot of 70’s music.4
Flight of the Conchords – The Most Beautiful Girl (In The Room)
- ohnotheydidnt: Jemaine discusses the lack of “R” is his name, not putting his heart out there and Bret: 2009 [↩]
- Flight of the Conchords’ First Song Is Even More Ridiculous Than You Think (Inverse: Nov 3, 2018) [↩]
- Flight Of The Conchords: comedy Kiwis on their musical dabblings by Alex Denney (Drowned In Sound: May 13, 2008) [↩]
- Bret McKenzie Talks The Muppets, The Hobbit, Flight Of The Conchords, And More by Matt Goldberg (Collider: Jan 6, 2012) [↩]