Jemaine Clement is the bespectacled half of folk-comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, who achieved international cult status in their own HBO series. Clement's screen career began after he appeared on 90s sketch shows Telly Laughs and Skitz. Following his big screen debut in Tongan Ninja, he starred in misfit romance Eagle vs Shark. In 2014 he co-directed and acted in hit vampire comedy What We Do in the Shadows.
You feel a little bit under-appreciated and you go: ‘I’m sure if we did this thing in America people would like it or if we did it in England.’ It’s good to find out that you are right. Jemaine Clement
Funny As traces the history of New Zealand comedy through archive footage, and extensive interviews with local comedy talent. Debuting on TVNZ 1 in July 2019, the five-part series explores how Kiwis "have used comedy to navigate decades of profound cultural change". Funny As touches on everything from live and musical comedy, to pioneers of Kiwi screen humour (e.g. Fred Dagg, Lynn of Tawa) and the hit exports of later years (Flight of the Conchords, Rose Matafeo). The series was made by production/creative agency Augusto, and produced by comedy veteran Paul Horan.
As this promotional clip makes clear, Funny As features an impressive roll call of Kiwi comedy legends. The five-part series traces the history of New Zealand comedy through interviews and archive footage. In coming weeks NZ On Screen will be publishing extended interviews with the comedy talent captured on camera for the series. Funny As ranges all the way from the early days of live comedy to screen pioneers (Fred Dagg, the Week of It team), the legendary Billy T, and the Kiwi comedians who've made their mark internationally (Flight of the Conchords, Rhys Darby).
Packed with Kiwi comedy talent, The Breaker Upperers is the tale of two women whose business is ending other people's relationships. Leading both the cast and the filmmakers are Madeleine Sami (Super City) and Jackie van Beek (who played a wannabe vampire in What We Do in the Shadows). Sami's character finds herself falling for a teen (James Rolleston) who needs to dump his girlfriend. The film won its first rave review when it debuted at US festival South by Southwest, in March 2018. New Zealand release followed in May. The cast includes Rima Te Wiata and Rose Matafeo.
These clips offer up a selection of Kiwi news bloopers. First, Sacha McNeil presents a retrospective of unscripted moments from TV3’s first 25 years of news: newsreaders sneeze and laugh, and reporters face rogue weather, animals, dance routines, and lashings of champagne from Olympic champions. Then presenter Hilary Barry laughs at inappropriate moments on The Paul Henry Show: she starts an extended battle with the giggles while mentioning All Black Waisake Naholo’s broken leg (2015). In 2016 she succumbs to laughter over an emergency defecation situation.
Tired of working his go nowhere job at Pete’s Emporium in Porirua, Jamie (Jamie McCaskill) persuades some of his workmates (Cohen Holloway, Rob Mokaraka and Jerome Leota) to form band The Māori Sidesteps. Throughout this web series they find themselves at inopportune gigs, deal with interference from their over-reaching manager Dollar$ (Raybon Kan), and face an early band break up. Luckily the band is reinforced by Jamie’s brother Kelly (Erroll Anderson), who joins as a fifth member — outshining several other auditionees (including Jemaine Clement).
Actor/director Taika Waititi teamed up with his Eagle vs Shark star Jemaine Clement for this mockumentary about life for a flat of vampires. Cameras follow the vamps as they struggle to get into Wellington pubs, squabble over chores and face off against werewolves. A roster of Kiwi comedic talent (including Jackie van Beek and lazy vampire Jonathan Brugh) feature. After winning fangtastic reviews at America's Sundance and SXSW festivals, Shadows won a run of global sales and four Moa awards, including Best Self-Funded Feature. It also spawned two TV series, and a live show.
In 2012 Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement sat down with some Kiwi children. They wanted to get back in touch with what the kids were about. Flight of the Conchords were creating a special song for health research charity Cure Kids; the children supplied them with lyrical ideas involving bowls, bubbles and a major overhaul of the banking system. A superstar team of Kiwi singers and rappers joined the Conchords in the studio. The chart-topping song's mix of deep concern and nonsensical rhyming celebrates and parodies previous charity efforts like ‘We are the World’.
Based on a novel by the late Ronald Hugh Morrieson — whose stories painted hometown Taranaki as a hotbed of colourful characters and dodgy dealings — Predicament is a prohibition-era tale of blackmail, anxiety and criminal partnerships. Awkward teen Cedric (Hayden Frost) meets two oddball misfits (played by Conchord Jemaine Clement and Australian comedian Heath 'Chopper' Franklin), and becomes entangled in a plot to blackmail adulterous couples caught in the act. Jason Stutter's film went on to win six Aotearoa Film Awards in 2011.
An all-star team of Kiwi talent contributed to this sketch comedy — including Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby, the bro'Town team, and 'special guest stars' Jemaine Clement and John Clarke. In-between one-off and ongoing sketches, there were regular appearances by Taika Waititi as an oddball alien character with plans for planet Earth. There were also animated inserts like laconic sheep tale The Pen, FOT (Funny Orange Thing) and the Kiwi accents of Beached Az. Eight episodes screened on TV3. Bro'Town creator Elizabeth Mitchell was producer and lead director.
Showcasing the droll dialogue between Conchord Jemaine Clement and animator Guy Capper, this is one of a series of comedic shorts in which two sheep drink beer at the baa and spin yarns about the issues that really matter eg. how to express your ire when a bovine companion compares your face to a talking pie. Capper and Clement's Robert and Sheepy duo first debuted in short film The Pen in 2001. An Australasian Nescafé Short Film Award helped spur further episodes, then regular appearances on 2010 comedy show Radiradirah, from which this sketch is drawn.
Showcasing the droll dialogue between Conchord Jemaine Clement and animator Guy Capper, Schedule is one of a series of shorts in which two sheep — Robert and Sheepy — ruminate on the ovine issues that really matter eg. tyre humping and ghost sheep. Here the daily schedule is discussed, including the menu selection (grass). After Capper animated the first Robert and Sheepy short in 2001, an Australasian Nescafé Short Film Award helped spur occasional further entries in the woolly yarn canon, culminating with these appearances on 2010 sketch show Radiradirah.
Eclectic comedy show Radiradirah featured Taika Waititi, Rhys Darby, Madeleine Sami and the talent behind animated hit bro'Town. The fast-paced sketch show included Monty Python-style animated inserts, the laconic talking sheep of The Pen, and bro'Town-ers Oscar Kightley and Dave Fane as elderly women who've done it all. This first episode introduces a number of ongoing characters, including an oddball alien with a beard, and crusading space captain Hemi T Cook (both played by Waititi). Radiradirah was created by bro'Town's Elizabeth Mitchell and Oscar Kightley.
Featuring a rare star turn by stand-up comedian Raybon Kan (who also co-wrote the script), Diagnosis: Death is a genre-stretching tale of oddball nurses, haunted hospitals and bedside romance. Kan plays a cynical teacher sharing a hospital ward with a young student (Jessica Grace Smith), after both are diagnosed with cancer. Trapped in the ward during an experimental drug trial, the duo investigate a strange case of haunting. Shot specifically for DVD, Jason Stutter's second feature also features cameos by Conchords Jemaine Clement, Bret McKenzie, and Rhys Darby.
Rocked the Nation launched in 2008 with six one hour-long shows. Production company Satellite Media ransacked the archives and interviewed protagonists, to survey 100 key moments in Kiwi music history: including smash hits, riots, TV talent shows, and sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. Hosted by Karyn Hay, the series screened on C4 during NZ Music Month, and was the channel’s highest-rating series to that date. Follow-up series counted down 100 New Zealand Pop Culture Stories (2009, hosted by Rhys Darby) and 100 New Zealand Sporting Moments (2011, hosted by Dai Henwood).
Taika (Boy) Waititi's first feature is an offbeat comedy about two lonely misfits and their attempts to find love. Lily (Loren Taylor) is a shy fast-food cashier with a crush on clueless gaming geek Jarrod (Conchord Jemaine Clement). When Lily crashes Jarrod's fancy dress party wearing a shark costume and impresses the self-styled ‘Eagle Lord' with her gaming prowess — excerpted here — she gets her man. But their budding romance is sorely tested by Jarrod's obsession with a childhood nemesis. Empire called the film, "a comic delight destined for cult adoration."
Satire Futile Attraction follows a dysfunctional reality television crew as they make a show about dating. The unfortunate 'couple' being manipulated for the cameras are a phone-obsessed nerd, and a woman consumed with being ecologically sound. In real life, director Mark Prebble became the first New Zealander to get funding for his movie via an online crowdfunding campaign (as detailed in the making of video). Alongside lead actors Danielle Mason (Black Sheep) and Peter Rutherford (Event 16), the late Alistair Browning shines as a smarmy television host.
In this early, Edinburgh-centric episode of arts show Frontseat, Flight of the Conchords return to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a sellout third season — although they argue the new show is “a shambles”. Also present at the fest are an array of Kiwi technicians, performers, and arts programmers. Meanwhile in his Marlborough vineyard, globetrotting cinematographer Michael Seresin critiques Kiwi society and its ugly towns, and calls New Zealand a “lonely, soulless sort of nation”. Also on offer: Artist Phil Dadson in Antarctica, and award-winning dancer Ross McCormack.
Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Flight of the Conchords headline this episode of the TV stand up comedy series with the creepily earnest 'If You're Into It' (guaranteed to lose all but the hardiest of new girlfriends) and their hip-hop folk opus 'Hiphopopotamus'. Host Brendhan Lovegrove explores the speech patterns of Southlanders, Andre King does his best to ensure he won't be invited back to Palmerston North, and Sully O'Sullivan reveals himself as a menace to small animals and moving vehicles (but with a possible future in survey research).
Life on Ben is a partly-animated series for kids exploring the intricacies of life on skin. Gordon and Gloob (voiced by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement and Boy director Taika Waititi) are two symbiotic creatures who go on an unexpected stop motion journey. When their host, 10-year-old Ben, gets an itch in his butt the Plasticine duo find themselves exiled to his nostril; on their quest to get back home they encounter a petri dish of other microbial folk. Created by Luke Nola (Let’s Get Inventin’), the 10 episodes of this two-minute show sold internationally.
Life on Ben is a partly-animated series for kids exploring the intricacies of skin life. Gordon and Gloob (voiced by Flight of the Conchords’ Jemaine Clement and Boy director Taika Waititi) are two symbiotic creatures who go on an unexpected stop motion journey. When their host, 10-year-old Ben, gets an itch in his butt, the plasticine duo find themselves exiled to his nostril. On their quest to get home they meet a petri dish of other microbial folk. Created by Luke Nola (Let’s Get Inventin’), the 10 two-minute episodes — in full here — were distributed internationally.
These excerpts from arts show The Living Room mark an early screen appearance for "jungle folk comedy duo" Flight of the Conchords. Starting in Wellington and building to performances at the 2002 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the item sees longtime colleague Taika Waititi playing the duo's wisetalking manager, pre Rhys Darby. After meeting Jonah Lomu at the airport, dreams of fame face cramped digs and the intense competition of Edinburgh. The duo handle things with their droll resolve. The following year the Conchords were nominated for a Perrier Award, en route to stardom.
A magazine show with an edge, The Living Room did for arts television production what Radio With Pictures did for NZ music — it ripped open the venetian blinds, rearranged the plastic-covered cushions, and shone the sun on Aotearoa’s homegrown creative culture. Often letting the subjects film and present their own stories, it was produced for three series by Wellington’s Sticky Pictures, who also made follow-up arts showcase The Gravy. These excerpts from the first series show a calvacade of local talent, including an early Flight of the Conchords screen outing.
Director Jason Stutter's endearing martial arts parody (and cult classic in the making) was filmed on a shoestring on the mean streets of Wellington. Sam Manu stars as the Tongan Ninja, while Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords), who co-wrote the script, chews the scenery as his arch nemesis, the anonymously named Action Fighter. The film plays for laughs - think B movie accents and bad post-dubbing - and hangs off a flimsy plot involving an evil crime syndicate's hostile takeover of a Chinese restaurant.
This special episode of the TV stand-up comedy series showcases a newly blonde Cal Wilson and features guests Flight of the Conchords, who spoof small town tourism operators, take office supplies as metaphors for love to absurd lengths, and serve up some overly polite, self censored gangster rap. Wilson's other friends are her own creations. Katie the Chief Bridesmaid's contribution to nuptial disharmony invokes Rowan Atkinson's 'Father of the Bride Speech' by way of Lyn of Tawa, while her "sister" Adele is a painfully earnest feminist poet in a neckbrace.
Ovine raconteurs Robert and Sheepy made their short film debut in 2001, thanks to the stop motion magic of Guy Capper. Capper and Jemaine (Flight of the Conchords) Clement's comical duo — one loquacious, one laconic — stood out from the flock amidst 100s of entries in the trans-Tasman Nescafé Short Film Awards, sharing first prize in 2001. Further occasional installments of The Pen were made over the next decade and shown online, and in 2010 Robert and Sheepy’s woolly wisdom was brought to TV audiences as a segment in sketch show Radiradirah.
This episode of the stand-up comedy show ends with an early screen appearance by Flight of the Conchords. The duo perform two songs that will later appear on the first HBO series, and debut album. The funky 'Ladies of the World' goes beyond Julio Iglesias, while the epic 'Bowie' (three and a half minutes into clip three) pays homage to the man whose complex changes of tempo and vocal range proved too difficult for them to play. Mike King hosts, John Glass reflects on bachelorhood and kissing etiquette, and Chris Brain references bikers, the Wiggles, Bill Gates and Star Wars.
Duggan features John Bach in the title role of the brooding detective who solves murders, amid the tranquillity of the Marlborough Sounds. In this excerpt from the first part of two-parter 'A Shadow of Doubt', Duggan finds himself investigating the kidnapping of the daughter of friend Joanne Taylor (Jennifer Ward-Lealand). The suspects includes Joanne's business partner (Andy Anderson). A sharp, stylish Kiwi take on the classic English whodunit, this episode won an award for scriptwriter Donna Malane, and features evocative imagery by cinematographer Leon Narbey.
“In the dark and scary depths of a subway, one young man finds fear has a new name: FIZZ.” Jemaine Clement (pre-Flight of the Conchords fame) is the young man who faces up to a sentient soda machine in this short from Jason Stutter. Made for $2000 and filmed over two wintry Wellington nights, Fizz screened at festivals including Locarno, New York, and Clermont-Ferrand. Stutter would successfully repeat the combo of dark wit and dangerous appliance in his Careful with that … series; Clement starred in Stutter’s debut feature Tongan Ninja (2002).
A Wellington-only television show hosted folk comedy duo Flight of the Conchords' first TV appearance in 1999. This compilation features them performing six songs live on regional station Channel 7. The first two clips date from Newtown Salad's debut episode on 16 November 1999: the duo perform 'Nothin' Wrong', and end the evening with rare track 'Rock Beat'. The remaining songs were performed over four days in May 2000. After the 16-strong studio audience start clapping in time during 'Bowie', the duo use their hands to "protect" themselves.
Skitz was a popular long-running sketch-based comedy that ran for four series from 1993 to 1997. This selection of excerpts contains sketches from the final season of the Gibson Group satirical show famous for its broad, take-no-prisoners humour, and memorable characters and catchphrases. The wacky Semisi family and their 'fresh off the boat' antics inspire mirth and groans in equal measure and filmmaker Sima Urale is enjoyably ludicrous as the terrifying Aunty Mele. Jemaine (Flight of the Conchords) Clement and members of the Bro' Town posse also feature.
This film records the devising of a “work in progress” by theatre director Ashley Thorndyke (Jason Hoyte). The concept — by Duncan Sarkies (Two Little Boys, Scarfies) — mocks the gamut of thesp and drama school cliches: from ‘wanky’ director to wacky warm-up exercises (animal impersonations, primal screams, Love Boat theme song). Peter Burger, fresh out of Broadcasting School, co-directs, and the willing cast is drawn from the 90s Wellington theatre scene orbiting around Bats and Victoria University. Future Conchord Jemaine Clement memorably learns to get loose.
Skitz was a popular long-running sketch-based comedy that screened for four series. Populated with memorable characters and catch-phrases, and broad, take-no-prisoners humour, it won Best Entertainment Programme at the 1996 NZ TV and Film Awards. A particular favourite in its arsenal of regular characters was the Semisi family with their 'fresh off the boat' antics inspiring mirth and groans in equal measure. Skitz featured seasoned comedians such as Jackie Clarke, as well as new faces at the time, including Jemaine Clement of future Flight of the Conchords fame.