Godspeed time-travelling disco soldier.
If only Rhys Darby’s school career adviser could see him now. Sound-effect comedy isn’t a worthwhile vocation he was told. Yet the Kiwi always retained bulletproof self-belief. And to judge from this enjoyable, more-or-less autobiographical hour, a talent for reshaping the universe to validate his skillset, that of a loose-limbed, physical clown with a fine line in helicopter impressions.
How else to comprehend his epiphany, fleeing from a camp guard dog as his boyhood gang trespassed on a golf course, that he should enter showbusiness? Spinning a good yarn is all about retrospectively imbuing an Alsatian with the mannerisms of Mick Jagger.
We understand life backwards but we live it forwards. 2012 is the year of apocalypse in the Mayan calendar and Darby has made it onto one of the VIP space vessels escaping a dying Earth. How he got there is a mystery but he awakes from stasis to be questioned by the ship’s computer, Al, sounding suspiciously like his Flight of the Conchords co-star Jemaine Clement. Floating in and out of consciousness, Darby flits between his intergalactic escape, anecdotes of a carefree New Zealand adolescence and initially at least, some pretty random observations.
The self-esteem of horses competing in the Olympics dressage; losing your wallet; the perils of various greetings, modern hand driers and the automation of taps in public toilets… these phenomena are the slightest excuses for Darby to prance and caper about the stage, their potential pitfalls ramped up for cartoonish, comic effect. He understandably appreciates the role that Conchords has played in bringing him such a large, sell-out crowd at the Pleasance Grand, and there are some neat, underplayed references to the series. But its chief legacy is the indulgence the audience affords this loveable goof to simply play the fool and develop the narrative at his own pace.
He rewards them by revealing his compete unfamiliarity with shame. He and his youthful comrades dubbed themselves Dangerous Intelligence Commandos, despite the acronym. And his teenage seduction technique was the old pretend-to-be-a-pterodactyl-laying-an-egg routine.
His burgeoning performer’s mentality is portrayed flourishing in the show’s abiding set piece, the various, idiosyncratic dance moves he contrived to introduce himself to girls, such as Feed The Chickens and Paper Delivery Boy. As bizarre as you’d imagine, you can see how they’d cause a stir in sleepy Christchurch.
All very amusing. But none of this seems to have any practical application in a world about to perish. No matter. Darby makes a brilliant if rather cheesy case for sticking to your guns and remaining true to yourself, regardless of the odds, the risk of humiliation and the guards with jetpacks defending the top-secret volcano base.
Good comedy doesn’t have to be smart, cynical or cutting-edge, sometimes it’s all about getting up on stage and putting your weird self out there. Godspeed time-travelling disco soldier.