Most Beautiful Girl in the Room: Jermaine and Bret
When I first stumbled on the HBO television series Flight of the Conchords, I had no awareness of the developing cult status of the two Kiwi comedians/singers/songwriters, Jermaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. I will say that the first episode was so exceptional that I nearly pee’d myself in hysterical laughter. I then immediately got on the Net and the phone to my mates at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) here and Down Under in New Zealand. My first question was who at NZTE had helped with the development of the script for the show? It was too good and too close to the mark not to have been written or at least inspired by someone at NZTE. No one at the Los Angeles New Zealand Consulate would own up to it. But the NZ connection with film and TV production in L.A. was so strong as to make the connection to Flight of the Conchords obvious. Starting with The Piano, starring Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel, then later Lord of the Rings, followed by Whale Rider, New Zealand was on the radar of the TV industry in L.A. NZTE had some great Hollywood parties during that period. My sense of the characters, particularly Murray, the Consular official, played by Rhys Darby, were so close to the mark that I could almost replace him with real people I knew. The two main characters and the ditzy American woman who is their friend, Mel, played by Kristen Schaal, are priceless. Perhaps, not surprisingly, some Kiwi’s were unimpressed with the show, feeling that the show portrayed New Zealand in a bad light. Most, however, saw the show for what it was, a great comedy production, and that “any PR is good PR,” as Kiwi’s are particularly sensitive about their image on the global stage.
If you have the time, watch an episode or two of Flight of the Conchords, and you will get a really hilarious flavor of Kiwi expatriate life in New York City. It is a great bit of Kiwi culture that went viral way back in 2008.