Despite Flight of the Conchords’ Sinjay harbouring the belief that New Zealand is populated by “a bunch of cocky a-holes descended from criminals and retarded monkeys,” the islands have in fact proven to be the perfect breeding ground for some of the hottest comedy talent going.
The latest vehicle to flaunt said Kiwi humour is the vampire comedy mockumentary, What We Do In The Shadows based on an original short film written and directed by long-time cohorts, Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement. With vampires Viago (Waititi) and Vladislav (Clement) salivating at the thought of biting into UK cinemagoers’ necks this Friday we thought it was the perfect moment to rave about a few of our favourite Kiwi comedians.
In the comedy business since 1995, New Zealand comedian Jarred Christmas lives and works here in the UK. No stranger to screens – big and small – you’ve most likely seen him on TV shows ranging from Never Mind the Buzzcocks through 8 out of 10 Cats. He also appeared in the 2012 found-footage comedy feature, The Wedding Video alongside Rufus Hound and Lucy Punch.
He’s also this year’s Monumental series host and you can also find him on YouTube in the comedy web series Dwarves Assemble alongside Warwick Davies, a trailer of which you can enjoy below:
You can find out a plethora of details about Jarred over at his official website: http://www.jarredchristmas.com/
Bret Mckenzie and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords)
Next up is the mighty duo, Flight of the Conchords, the New Zealand-based musical comedy act made up of the now infamous Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement. The duo first became acquainted when they shared a cleaning cupboard/compartment whilst studying film and theatre before going on to perform in the five-man comedy group, So You’re A Man with none other than Taiki Waititi.
Shortly after, in 1998, McKenzie and Clement formed Flight of the Conchords as a duo and their comedy and music became a hit BBC radio series featuring the additional voices of fellow comedians Rhys Darby (see below), Jimmy Carr and Rob Brydon. Hot off their UK airwave success they struck gold in the form of their very own HBO show which premiered in 2007. The show was a massive success and since its unfortunate demise – after only 2 seasons – both Bret and Jemaine have gone from strength to strength making a number of appearances on the big screen. Most recently Jemaine played a rather malevolent martian in Men in Black 3 and now plays the 862-year-old Vladislav in What We Do In The Shadows, which he co-wrote and co-directed with Taika Waititi . Meanwhile, Bret supervised the musical score for the last two Muppet movies and also appeared as Lindir in the Lord of The Rings saga.
As you can see, they’ve been busy chaps so what better than one of their tracks going by the title of “Business Time”:
Sam Wills / The Boy With Tape On His Face
Cutting his teeth as an apprentice clown at the tender age of 13, Sam Wills will be familiar to many as his alter-ego “The Boy With Tape On His Face.”
Particularly influenced by the likes of the Jim Rose Circus and the Tokyo Shock Boys, it was in 2008 that ‘The Boy’ starting making waves after an appearance at the Melbourne Comedy Festival. Shortly after this success Sam upped and went to London where he gained even more of a following. Most notable performances to date include a spot on ITV’s Comedy Rocks, a spot at the first ever BBC Comedy Prom at London’s Royal Albert Hall and a coveted spot at the 83rd annual Royal Variety Performance which you can enjoy below.
Apart from the aforementioned performances with So You’re a Man, Waititi also teamed up with Clement as the comedy duo The Humourbeasts which won New Zealand’s highest comedy accolade, the Billy T Award, in 1999.
After directing a number of successful shorts his first feature film, 2007’s Eagle vs Shark, gained him significant success and in that same year he penned and directed an episode of the Flight of the Conchords TV show, later directing a further three episodes.
Waititi’s biggest film role then came in 2011 playing Thomas Kalmaku in the live-action superhero film Green Lantern alongside Ryan Reynolds. Coming to the present and, as already mentioned, he’s joined forces with Jemaine Clement to write, direct and star in What We Do in the Shadows in which he plays the 379 year young Viago.
We certainly can’t forget the aforementioned Rhys Montague Darby, best known for playing Murray Hewitt, Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement’s lumbering manager in Flight of the Conchords. Formerly a soldier in the New Zealand Army, he went on to form his first comedy duo Rhysently Granted, with Grant Lobban in 1996.
Taking a solo stand-up show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2002, right there and then he decided to move to the UK to find work. Given McKenzie and Clement’s penchant for performing at the Edinburgh Fringe it was only a matter of time before they were going to join forces.
Darby too has appeared on the big screen, most notably playing Jim Carrey‘s boss in Yes Man and also appearing in Richard Curtis’ The Boat That Rocked. Right now you’ll find him in What We Do In The Shadows playing alpha male, Anton, leader of a troupe of werewolves – yes, you read that right first time.
What We Do In The Shadows is released in the UK this Friday, 21 November and we’ll leave you to sink your teeth into the latest trailer.
Don’t forget to read our review of the film right here where we describe it as having “all the makings of a cult classic” as the film “releases laughs like blood flowing from a freshly opened artery.”