Flight of the Conchords

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
That's Bret on the left, Jemaine on the right, relaxing at home.

Thank you, that's overwhelming...

Bret: I don't think we're going to get sex and get paid.
Jemaine: Why not?

Bret: Because we never get sex or get paid.
On the prospect of making ends meet via prostitution, The New Cup

Flight of the Conchords are formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo, trying to make it big in America. The group is made up of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. They have had a BBC radio series and an HBO TV series.

This duo (and their skits) provides examples of:

Bret (singing): She was comparable to Cleopatra...
Jemaine (talking): Why, old?
Bret (singing): She was like Shakespeare's Juliet...
Jemaine (talking): What, thirteen?

Murray: That per diem was for the whole week!

Jemaine: But... diem means day...

Murrary: Alright, so it was your per weekum!

  • Cloudcuckoolander: The entire main cast, as well as everyone from New Zealand, right up to Prime Minister Brian.
  • Compliment Backfire:
    • "Sure you're weedy (and kind of shy), but some girlie out there must be needy for a weedy shy guy."
    • And all of "Most Beautiful Girl in the Room".
  • Cultural Cringe: Completely ignored by New Zealand's TV networks, until they made it big in America. Averted, however, by their New Zealand fan base, who've backed them from the very start.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "I'm gonna juice the mutha 'ucker!/He's gonna wake up in a smoothie!"
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Bret leaves Murray's car thinking he put the parking brake on without realizing that the shift is on the other side in American cars.
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Played for laughs in-universe. Bret and Jemaine are completely unfamiliar with American swearing and Dave has to teach them how to flip someone off.
  • Discriminate and Switch: In "Drive-By", Bret and Jemaine are harassed by a racist greengrocer. The situation is resolved when they explain that he's confusing New Zealand with Australia.
  • Disney Acid Sequence: Some of the song sequences
  • Downer Ending:
    • The Season 1 finale could apply. "The Crazy Dogggz", a band formed by Todd and Demetri (two musicians who quit the Conchords), has hit the big time with a song Bret and Jemaine refused to play. Their manager, who also manages the Dogggz, has almost totally stopped managing them. And, possibly worst of all, their former Loony Fan, Mel, has lost all interest in them. However, as this is the Conchords we're talking about, it's all played for laughs.
    • The Season 2 ending is a possible subversion: Murray, Bret and Jemaine are all deported and resume their careers as shepherds. However, they seem just as happy to play their music in the fields as in their apartment or in empty clubs.
  • Dropped a Bridget On Him: In the second season song "Carol Brown", there's "Bruce turned out to be a man"...
  • Eccentric Mentor: David Bowie, at least in Bret's dreams; he appears in various costumes, each time explaining, "hello, Bret, it's me, David Bowie, from 1987's Ashes To Ashes tour." Bret points out that it's Jemaine, so it's probably a dream. Bowie disagrees.
  • Mr. Fanservice: The guys have their share of admirers in the real world, especially for their song Sugar Lumps.
  • Epic Rocking: Often parodied. For example, when the duo tries writing a jingle for a thirty second commercial for Femident Toothpaste, they come up with an eighteen minute long song. Another notable example is when Bret initially writes "Song For Coco" (which Jemaine helps him rewrite to "If You're Into It"), the song is two hours long.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Bret decides to use one because of Bowie's advice. He feels cooler, but it backfires soon, as he loses the sense of depth and stumbles into things.
    • Ironically, Bowie claims that he had that problem too, when in fact Real Life Bowie is already blind in one eye; he just wore the eyepatch over it as a fashion thing.
  • Fan Service: Or Fan Disservice - "Business Time".
  • Friends Rent Control: Dealt with in "Evicted", when the landlord realizes that he's been receiving checks in New Zealand dollars, not US dollars.
  • Funny Background Event: The New Zealand tourism poster in Murray's office changes every episode, usually saying something along the lines of "New Zealand: It's not Australia," or "New Zealand: Worth a visit."
  • Gender Flip:
  • Gratuitous French: Foux de Fa Fa, which is basically the fragments of French that they remember from school shoehorned into song form to try to impress women.

Pamplemousse! ...Ananas! ...Jus d'orange! ...Boeuf!

Soup du jour! ...Camembert! ...JacquesCousteau! ...Baguette!

  • Hammerspace: where Jemaine gets his instruments from, evidently. Since the show really blurs the lines of whether or not the musical numbers are really happening or not, instruments come and go fairly at random; the only time it's completely averted is at the beginning of "Boom", when Bret remarks that he needs his 1987 Casio electric guitar set to mandolin, and someone walking by hands it to him.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Bret and Jemaine, of course. It occasionally drifts into Ho Yay territory.

"No Doubt about it, we'd be gettin' crazy / if one of us was lucky enough to be born a lady..."

"Captain, do you not see the irony that by destroying the humans for their destructive capabilities, we too have become...like...it's ironic, see."

People are like paper dolls
Paper dolls and people, they're a similar shape

  • I'm a Humanitarian: "Petrov, Yelyena and Me," a song about a man lost at sea who is slowly eaten by his shipmates.
  • Intercourse with You: "It's business... it's business time!" and "I'm the Boom King!"
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All:
    • Dave, though the guys are always seeking his advice anyway. Particularly impressive when he works on the tourist information point for New Zealand Town, which is odd because at no point during the series does he remember where New Zealand is...or what its name is.
    • Murray, whose misconceptions about the music business and American culture are largely responsible for the Conchords' lack of success.
  • Lampshade Hanging: An amazing number of first season episodes involved Bret quitting the band, and in a later season 1 episode Murray quits the band, prompting Jemaine to tell him, "You can't quit the band. Bret normally quits the band!"
  • Let's Get Dangerous:
    • Bret is a very shy and sensitive guy who usually feels uncomfortable around women, and if he gets laid is mainly because Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male. However, BEWARE if you are his fancy and he gets freak-ay: you may end bodypainted to match the wall, photographed with a goat on a boat, dressed as a squirrel in order to steal his nuts or performing foreplay with cardboard silhouettes of yourselves...
    • Leather outfits, roller skates, hair gel or just conversational French will make the Conchords feel more dangerous.
    • The "gangsta raps" of the Conchords try to be this... and fail miserably.

Bret (singing):
Eminem! Is not very good...
Fifty Cent! Is not very good...
But the Rhymenocerose is very very good!
(insert facepalm here ______)

      • Also "Hurt Feelings", a rap about some times when their feelings were hurt: Jemaine cooked a meal for his friends and none of them said anything nice about it; Bret was told he should try on a women's size scuba-suit...

I'm not a lady--I'm a man! Bring me a small man's wetsuit, please!

Murray: Do you wanna know a secret? It wasn't the hair gel that made you cool. It was the confidence the gel gave you!
[one terrible gig later]

Murray: Yeah, it was the hair gel, guys. Sorry...

  • Mistaken for Gay: In one way or another, this happens throughout the entire series.
    • In the Season Two episode "Love Is A Weapon Of Choice" in which Brahbrah admits she had remained oblivious to both Bret and Jemaine's advances because she thought they were a gay couple.
    • Also "Bret, you've got it going on"...
    • "But how can that be gay, if you're pretending he's a woman?"
  • Mushroom Samba: "I'm the pretty Prince of Parties, you're a tasty piece of pastry!"
  • Musical World Hypotheses: One of those musicals that are not Alternate Universe. Some of the songs are diegetic, such as "Robots," "If You're Into It" and "Albi the Racist Dragon"; some of the songs are All In Their Heads like "Business Time" and "Prince of Parties", and some of the songs are musical adaptations of events that really do happen, such as "Foux da Fa Fa, "Most Beautiful Girl in the Room," "I Told You I Was Freekie" and "Hurt Feelings."
    • It looks like they actually perform "Fashion" in-universe, but are only confident enough to do so because of the hair gel.
    • Sometimes, it's not really clear what happened. After the two spend a few minutes doing a ridiculous performance of Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros in front of 2 muggers, the only response they get is,

"Were you guys dancing a little bit?"

  • My Nayme Is: "Her name is Barbara!" "No, it's Brahbrah" "There's no such name as Brahbrah!" - yeah, turns out her name really is Brahbrah.
  • Negative Continuity: The second season, where for instance the Conchords lose all their furniture in episode five and have it back without any mention of how in episode six, Bret dates an admittedly rather loony woman at the end of episode six who has vanished without a trace in episode seven, and Bret and Jemaine fall down to "strangers" on Murray's friendship graph in episode four with him even remarking that the next band meeting will be awkward because "you're strangers!", but in episode five communications between them and Murray are back to exactly how they were before. The first season at least had a couple of developing subplots and included Snap Backs to restore the status quo before the end of each episode.
  • Nice Hat: In episode one, Bret is working on a helmet that looks like his hair. He wears it on several occasions.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative:
    • The band often introduces themselves in live performances as "formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo". (The third-most-popular is claimed to be "Like of the Conchords," a FotC tribute band.)
    • The song "Most Beautiful Girl in the Room" is filled with these, serenading the subject with the fact that she's the most beautiful girl in the whole wide room, and could become an airline stewardess or a part-time model.
  • Piss-Take Rap: Pretty much any time the Conchords try to rap, it turns into this. Notably, "Hiphopapotamus vs. Rhymenocerous."

"There ain't no party like my nana's tea party
Hey! ho!"

  • Poor Man's Substitute: In-Universe. at one point, Bret and Jemaine got a gig as replacement Simon and Garfunkel lookalikes. They look nothing like Simon and Garfunkel, but Murray claims they're practically identical to the Simon and Garfunkel lookalikes they were sitting in for.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • "Go fuck yourself, Bret." From Murray, whose usual version of this is "Stuff you" or "Stuff you twice" if he's particularly mad. It makes you go "Whoa, he's serious."
    • "It's not a fucking school play production. It's the bird."

-- Dave, Episode 7, "Drive By"

I call my friends, say let's go into town,
But they're all too busy, to go into town,
So I go by myself, I go into town,
Then I see all my friends, they're all in town.

There's just a little bit of dust in my eye
Dust from the path that you made when you said your goodbye
I'm not weeping 'cause you won't be here to hold my hand
For your information there's an inflammation in my tear gland

  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Australians in general. In one episode, the guys become nemeses of a racist greengrocer, but it's discovered that he thought they were Australian. They unite against their common enemy.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Dave thinks that he's a cool ladies man, but really he's a pawn shop owner who lives with his parents.
  • Small Reference Pools: The show frequently references The Lord of the Rings due to the fact that just about the only thing most Americans know about New Zealand is that the movie adaptations were filmed there. One of the promotional posters in Murray's office is a shot of a grassy rock formation with the words "New Zealand ... Like Lord of the Rings"
  • Snap Back: First ten minutes of the second season.
  • Sound to Screen Adaptation: The TV series uses large chunks of the BBC radio series' plots and songs, adapted (where necessary) to fit into the US.
  • Spoof Aesop: "Albi the racist dragon".
    • Although the Aesop delivered there ("racism is bad") is a perfectly good one, they just deliberately delivered it in the most ridiculous way possible.
    • More precisely, the protest song "Think About It". Again, the Aesops themselves are perfectly reasonable ("sweatshops are bad ...") but the song misses the point completely ("... because they don't actually make their products cheaper").
  • Stalker with a Crush: Mel again.
  • Starving Artist: The Conchords.
  • The Stateroom Sketch: Jemaine moves into a new apartment, which is really just an empty cleaning supply closet. The first thing he does is invite over everyone he knows for a housewarming party, which naturally spills out into the hallway.
  • Status Quo Is God: Used straight and.... not. While the basic premise is always restored by the episode's end, some subplots (such as Bret and Coco's relationship) develop from episode to episode. The season 1 finale leaves some minor loose ends, most notably the fact that Mel, their one fan, has moved on and become obsessed with another band. This leads to a very quick Snap Back in season 2.
  • The Stinger: In the "Bowie" episode, the second half of the credits run alongside Bret and Jemaine performing an arrangement of the song based on Bowie's Let's Dance period, complete with matching pastel suits and funky dance moves.
  • Stylistic Suck: If you can't understand how Bret and Jemaine are so unknown in-universe, just listen to the songs they actually perform.
    • And arguably the songs they sing during the interludes. The Conchords mentioned in an interview that they think comedy songs only work if it sounds like the singer really believes it, so we get them really seriously singing a protest song that includes the line "man's lyin' in the street/some punk's chopped off his head/I'm the only one who stops to see if he's dead."
      • Turns out he's dead.
  • Subverted Kids Show: Albi, the Racist Dragon.
  • Take That: Parodied with Brett's 'Diss track'

'Eminem is not very good'
'Jay-Z is not very good'
'Snoop Doggy Dogg is not very good'
'Dr Dre is not very good'

  • Technology Marches On: New Zealand is shown to be completely behind the times, including their technology. Bret gets VHS cassette tapes of TV shows sent to him from his family. Brian the Prime Minister buys a VHS version of The Matrix. According to a commercial on Bret's tape, New Zealand is still in the process of adopting the telephone.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: Used off and on in the TV show since it uses songs written years before. Some episodes were written specifically to avert the trope, like making epileptics dogs a major plot point just so that the song about them would fit. Other times they don't even try, like the Mermaid song. Other times, the songs coming from nowhere and not making any sense any sense actually works, like "Prince of Parties" (played when Bret takes drugs for the first time) and "Petrov, Yelyena, and Me" (played when Bret has a bad dream).
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: This introduction to Bowie, they claimed to have gone back in time and taught David Bowie his own songs, using an Easy-to-Play Bowie songbook.
  • Training Montage: In "Drive By", when Dave attempts to train Bret and Jemaine in the art of extremely rude gestures. It takes a while.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Sugarlumps".
    • Not to mention "mutha'uckas" and "mother-flipping."
  • What Could Have Been: Considering both the tour guide from the unfeatured "Bus Driver's Song" and the Prime Minister of New Zealand harbour an unrequited crush on a girl named Paula, and the Prime Minister at one point acts as a tour guide on a bus, you can't help but think there was originally meant to be a connection there.
    • At the end of that episode, the melody from the Bus Drivers Song plays, but the song was probably not included as the lyrics refer to the town in which the Bus Driver grew up in, rather than the ten-meter strech of road that has been turned into New Zealand-town.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Reading the lyrics to the songs, or just hearing them described, you'd think they'd be terrible. But Bret and Jemaine put an awful lot of talent and brilliant homage into them, even their most ridiculous songs are great.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: "I saw it in a sitcom."
    • Not that it actually worked in the sitcom, but since it's real life, it should work anyway.
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Mel
  • Yoko Oh No: Parodied and lampshaded when Bret dates Coco.

(coughs) Yoko.
Did you just say Yoko?
Ohno, I was just coughing.

  • Zeerust: Their vision of a future in which robots become all-purpose laborers, achieve sentience, rebel against their masters and eventually exterminate the human race so that they can party. It's in the distant future of the year 2000.
    • For reference, they wrote the song back in the nineties. But they didn't change it for the 2000's TV show, thus expertly turning a parody of Exty Years From Now into an even better parody of I Want My Jetpack.
    • Some of their instruments look pretty technoriffic... for the eighties. Among them a Casio 1983 digital guitar, an Omnidrum and some old school synthezisers. They also are fond for those VHS Murrays gets back home though, granted, all that DVD craze seems still a little bit afar from New Zealand.
      • Those robot outfits would have been dissed as zeerusty even by Fritz Lang!

Who wanna rock the party?! Who wanna rock the party?!