It’s Rhys Darby Night

Opera House, Wellington

11/11/2009 - 13/11/2009

James Hay Theatre, Christchurch

06/11/2009 - 08/11/2009

SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

09/12/2009 - 11/12/2009

Pukekohe Town Hall, Auckland

28/11/2009 - 28/11/2009

Production Details

Christchurch Wellington Auckland 2009

Fresh from sold out shows in Los Angeles, London and Edinburgh, NZ’s favourite comedy export returns with his brand new show, "It’s Rhys Darby Night".

Darby has seen a meteoric rise from standup comic treading the boards around the world, to star of sitcom "Flight of the Conchords", and movies "Yes Man" and "The Boat that Rocked".  Closer to home Darby has hosted C4’s "Rocked the Nation" and met gorillas on his TV One trip to Rwanda on his "Intrepid Journey".

This all new show sees Darby’s return to standup comedy and his roots.  "It’s Rhys Darby Night" takes us on a hilarious journey of what it is like to be a kiwi navigating Hollywood. This show sold out in the UK, in fact his Edinburgh Fringe Festival season sold out before the fringe opened.

Book now, tickets are strictly limited.

James Hay Theatre
Friday November 6 – Sunday November 8

Opera House
Wednesday November 11 – Friday November 13


Saturday November 28

Skycity Theatre
Wednesday December 9 – Friday December 11


Cleverly conceived, perfectly pitched, hugely satisfying

Review by John Smythe 13th Nov 2009

Whenever I chortled and cringed (in a good way) at Rhys Darby’s minimalist buttoned-down procedure-freak Murray-the-manager of The Flight of the Conchords fame, I wondered how many viewers had any idea of his extraordinary capacity for physical and vocal comedy. 

I have only just caught up, via YouTube, with his Christchurch capping revue debut, in Things Rhys Can Do, and his early work with Grant Lobban on the comedy duo Rhysently Granted (e.g. ‘Lifeguard’). In the TV2 International Laugh Festival 2000, then, his solo show Rhys Darby and the Time Machine, at Bats, was a revelation.

In role as an ostracised Ohakune dance champ, he combined his amazing physical and vocal performance skills with metaphysical whimsy to take us back to dinosaurs and forward to a world run by evil robots. The following year, in Rhys Darby and the Supernova, he took us to Egypt and outer space on a quest to save planet Earth from death by supernova, and in 2002 he was The Neon Outlaw.

Although he displayed even greater physical and vocal caricature skills in his off-the-planet Jekyll & Hyde 2030ad (2005 at Circa Studio), I wasn’t the only critic to suggest that a show that ran over and hour on a single idea had to do more than just show off his great prowess. The terms of engagement for live comedy are hard to define and when they’re in place they are easily taken for granted. The best exponents make it look easy – and now Rhys Darby is right up there at the top of the game.

He has certainly earned his fame and international recognition on TV, radio and in movies. And because the small and big screens reach millions more than live shows do (website clips notwithstanding), most people still think of him as the nerdy guy character actor in supporting roles.

His return to the NZ stage, therefore, as the star performer in his own show, is greatly anticipated. Running at two hours, including interval plus encores, it is introduced by the voice of Murray Hewitt and judiciously arranged into three segments.

Having checked the equipment upstage and given himself the opening stanza of Neil Finn’s ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’ as a musical intro, Ranger (rhymes with danger) Bill Napier (rhymes with rapier), steps forward to deliver the first set. Many in the very young audience seem to recognise this Darby character, probably from his ‘Imagine That’ DVD.  

A quintessential Kiwi joker, New Zealand’s answer to Steve Irwin if you will, Bill regales us with his unique plans for affordable trans-Tasman travel, his clever plan for making the most of the world’s demise in 2012, the story of how he first met Rhys Darby – or Rhys Lightening as he called himself then – and his bizarre response to the imminent Y2K threat all those years ago. His ‘security moves’ offer a taste of his physical comedy.

Guest support act Chris Brain reprises a shorter version of the A Better Place show that won him this year’s Billy T Award. After setting out on the well-trodden track of railing at things he hates, he settles into an insightful account of some life experiences – in Christchurch, Brisbane and London – and ends in the USA with a whimsical fantasy involving oral sex on the interstate freeway.   

In part it is a routine that reminds us how successful stand-up comedians can be when they appeal to the fascist (i.e. one who treats others as objects) in all of us. Or is it that they are performing a social service by lancing the boils of our pent-up hatreds, so we can see the pus for what it is, clean it up and move on.  

After interval the upstage spot find Rhys and Chris in backstage mode, discussing the show and the audience so far: an excellent piece of deconstruction. Chris introduced Rhys and the show soon rises to a whole new level.

Clad simply in jeans and ‘I’m a fun guy’ t-shirt, Darby recalls his early experiences in Wellington when he tried to make it as ‘a party goer’. The physical stuff clicks effortlessly into gear. His silly walks are sublime. And he’s the master of turning what seems to be a accidental fluff – a mispronounced word, perhaps – into a tangential flight of whimsical fancy.

His sound-effects classics, offered simply as skill demonstrations, please the crowd enormously en route to his sharing his experiences of being in the USA. His tales of trying to book a cab by phone, and navigate through a phone-banking word-recognition system, are hysterically tragic.

A detailed description of shooting a bedroom scene in his latest movie Coming and Going, in which he plays the "sexy lead" opposite Sasha Alexander whose husband is the director, is all the funnier for being credible in its surreality. I defy anyone privy tot his sketch not to want to see the movie now, when it’s released.

Within the context of showing us how he displayed his wares to his raft of agents via a video conference call, brings us his Ron Taylor, a shonky little Kaikoura whale-watch and gift shop operator, and the rather spooky UFOlogist Steve Whittle, whose stories of alien abduction venture into darker comedy territory.

Again Darby proves his extraordinary capacity to have a 3-tiered auditorium full of punters laughing uncontrollably while he apparently does little more than ask us to "Shhh …". This is comic alchemy.  

Comparing the LAPD to the NZ Police Force via police car-to-control radio exchanges is wonderfully funny. Demonstrating how angry he got one in the UK allows him to recycle some old dinosaur physical humour segues into the letters of complaint he sent about Tom Tom Sat Nav devices. Then there’s a tale about miniature trains in Japan …

His much-loved robot routine, supposedly helping the elderly, brings the show to a climax and he ends by paying tribute to the same grandfather that inspired his early shows, with a ‘Nam protest song involving yet more brilliant voice-generated sound effects.

The first encore comprises his classic Nightclubbing and Bumper Boats routines and his second involves a soprano kazoo evoking a blowfly. This media and web-savvy audience – who mostly seemed to be around school-leaver age – couldn’t get enough of him.

This is top quality solo comedy, cleverly conceived and perfectly pitched to generate a hugely satisfying good night out.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Kate JS November 13th, 2009

For the first time I have actually been driven to making a comment on a review. I saw the Rhys Darby (Should that be spelt "Derby"?) show and was amazed, delighted, amused to the point of bellly laughter by Rhys. But Chris NoBrain? I think he should have been left amongst the dregs in the swillbars full of  teenage boys where he clearly usually performs. I had seriously thought that comedy about penises, (male) orgasms and dead girlfriend had been left behind in the 1980's. And this guy won  the Billy T Award. Billy T must be turning in his grave.

Make a comment

Excruciating Darby brings the house down

Review by Simon Sweetman 13th Nov 2009

Rhys Darby is known to New Zealand now – and to parts of the world that watch American cable TV – as "Murray", the gormless but ultimately harmless manager for Flight Of The Conchords, the Kiwi folk-parody duo transplanted to America to play a version of themselves in the show Flight Of The Conchords. This year New Zealanders have also seen Darby in the Jim Carey movie, Yes Man and the all-star British comedy The Boat That Rocked.

Returning home and returning to his roots – stand-up comedy – Darby had a packed Opera House in stitches with his regular routines based around mime, sound effects and physical comedy that includes silly walks, funny dancing and occasional contortions and pratfalls.

Imagine seeing one of the people from your high school Theatre Sports team if they had achieved bit-parts in a couple of Hollywood movies.

Darby cobbled together a show that wasn’t sure if it wanted to be a series of chats about the movie and TV roles he has been fortunate to net during the last two years, or a "greatest hits" retread of the comedy that made him known once a year during the annual comedy festival shows that tour the main cities.

Silly walks, sound effects and squeaky voices should not really be the basis for a 15-minute Comedy Gala routine, much less a headlining 90 minute show. But the audience is putty in Darby’s hands, as he allows his limbs to go putty-like, at one point, absurdly, and for no apparent reason, he mimicked the sound and movements of several dinosaurs, even inventing a few creatures of his own. It was the most painful comedy I have ever seen – excruciating to look at and listen to. It bought the house down.

Darby makes the camp absurdities of Hi-De-Hi look like Masterpiece Theatre. But we cannot mock him. He’s achieved something. He’s genuinely famous now and, wisely touring to cash in on that while it lasts. This victory lap on home turf was lovingly lapped up.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council