Daven Parsons-Piwari - The Dominion Post'Shroom milkshakes, dancing in an elevator, the Rainbow's End maze, all these come back together at the end, wrapped up in a neat little package with a bow on top that made the whole show feel like one big adventure...'open/close
If you've seen Flight of the Conchords, then you've already been treated to a wee slice of Darby's character comedy in the form of Murray, the Conchord's dorky, electric copper-haired band manager.
If you haven't seen Flight of the Conchords, apart from wasting your life, you may have also seen him in his roles in The Boat That Rocked and Yes Man, in which he plays dorky, electric copper-haired characters.
Don't let this fool you though, for Darby has enough characters up his sleeve to form a small gang due to the fact the man is pretty much a walking soundboard. Darby is full of voices, sound effects and personalities which he uses to weave his outlandish tales befitting of the name Mr Adventure.
As well as his voicecraft, Rhys Darby tends to use a lot of physical comedy as he prances about the stage with the energy of a six-year- old after a can of Coke. Rhys won't hesitate to bust some dance moves, act like a gorilla or perform some butt slap morse code if it paints a vivid story.
Sure, the overacting can verge on tedious at times, but it's entertaining enough to not take away from the performance value, and you can just tell the guy would just slay at a game of charades.
Fans of Darby may notice the odd reused routines from past shows here and there, things like the famous T-Rex impression, but they weren't used in a way that made them seem recycled and cheap and it was actually a little bit of a treat to see them live.
Perhaps the most impressive part is how he always manages to tie the seemingly random stories together at the end of his show, something he has a bit of a knack for. Shroom milkshakes, dancing in an elevator, the Rainbow's End maze, all these come back together at the end, wrapped up in a neat little package with a bow on top that made the whole show feel like one big adventure, with Rhys being the eccentric, over-excited tour guide.
Rhys Darby put on an epic show at The Civic Theatre last night; the first of three Mr Adventure dates at the NZ International Comedy Festival.
The show is introduced by ranger Bill Napier, who is providing security for Rhys during the tour. While he’s there he figures he will try his hand at comedy and indeed poetry. It’s a great kick off to the show, and a fun character who Rhys recently featured in his Netflix series Short Poppies (they must be good friends).
To get us truly warmed up Bill introduces us to two Cornish rappers, Hedluv and Passman. I think these guys came as a bit of a shock to some in the audience, but they have a way of winning people over. So what do they do? They rap about their lives in Cornwall and demonstrate the best stamina for intensively fast dance moves. At one stage Passman breaks free from the shackles of the stage to fully ‘express’ himself in the aisles. Hedluv and Passman totally owned the Civic, and it’s crowd, for their set; taking audience participation to the next level.
The second half was totally dedicated to RD, Rhys Darby. Leaping around in his black skinny jeans, he explains the change in his gait with fantastic physicality. He’s no hipster, just a jazz ballet enthusiast.
The show runs for just over an hour and was a total delight. A video backdrop provides assistance for background cartoons and visual jokes. Hedluv and Passman appear back on stage as his musical henchman, helping to create this comedy theatrical experience, transporting us to Thailand, Scotland or Rawanda.
Darby’s adventures cover his life as a pickpocket honey trap, his time in a cash strapped NZ Army, a little lost eight year old boy, husband, and gorilla observer. Special kudos goes to his Lochness hunting hallucinogenic escapades. You get the idea, it’s bloody good stuff!
As the biggest show at the festival you’d expect that extra ‘x factor’, and Mr Adventrue delivers this in its originality and escapist, slightly surreal story telling.
Go and see Rhys Darby’s show to inject some comedy adrenalin into your veins, and embrace your inner Kiwi adventurer!
A park ranger/head of security might not be what you expect as the opening act to Rhys Darby’s 2014 New Zealand Comedy Festival show, but alter ego Bill Napier’s attempt at what he refers to as the easy art of comedy is as amusing as his delivery is dry. From the ridiculous lengths he goes to in researching his first joke, to his revealing poetry, Darby/Napier, in full ranger uniform no less, is yet another example of the former’s ability as a character actor/performer. The same, however, cannot be said about Darby’s supporting act.
It’s understandable that Hedluv + Passman have received mixed reviews in the past. The musical duo’s style is incredibly incongruous with Darby’s act, and it’s not quite clear why they’ve been billed with a comedy show – other than Darby’s generosity at giving them a go in front of such a large crowd. There was an immediate sense of misapprehension from the audience, as we all slowly came to the same realisation following the first song that this was what was on offer for the remainder of act one. While Hedluv + Passman might work in the right setting, The Auckland Civic Theatre as a venue, and the crowd who had come to see Darby, were not it.
It takes a few minutes into the second act to realise that Darby’s introductory jokes about his attire are actually part of the show’s narrative, and not simply him warming the audience into his main set. It’s a perfect example of how well he’s crafted his art form, and how clever he is at storytelling. Before we know it, we’ve gone through the first of several stories that all skillfully intertwine to create a brilliant hour of comedy.
From his early days in the army, to his honeymoon in Thailand, Darby offers us a range of scenarios in which he demonstrates the reason for his aptly titled eponymous show. While the absurdity builds throughout the night to epic proportions, it’s often hard to tell how far Darby has stretched the truth, as there’s always a part of you that simply accepts it due to the passion in his delivery.
There’s still plenty of Darby’s shtick for those who remember his earlier work, but he never relies on it. What makes this show really work, is his ability to place and recall comedy gems, including a random heckle, that give the show’s narrative a sense of entirety and completeness. Even the most arbitrary moments fall into place by the end. While the second half of the first act might prove arduous for some, both Darby and Napier more than complete the Mr. Adventure adventure.
Mr Darby is back, and he's back as Mr Adventure, here to share his stories of travelling the world! …possibly having been high on mushy-shakes throughout.
Doing what Rhys Darby does best, his onstage physicality and impressive sound effects give top Foley artists a run for their money, bringing anecdotes to life in a hilarious way the audience was clearly lapping up.
Supporting act Hedluv + Passman, who opened the night with a bewildering hour of Cornish rapping were decidedly less memorable, but their inclusion as background musicians added an interesting dimension to Darby's performance, as did his use of supplementary video material and surprisingly high-tech props he fashioned by hand in his very own garage.
Rhys' ability to weave out-there tales about discerning Rwandan gorillas and riding the elusive Loch Nessie with relatable everyday experiences was sophisticated, smart and side-splitting. Not until the uproarious final set do all the gags of Mr Adventure's entire show intertwine to deliver an unforgettable "A-HA!" moment.
As anticipated, Rhys Darby proved just why he's NZ's international comedic darling, and certainly did not disappoint!
Opening night, they should be rather pleased with this particular show; it flies, it pops and it meanders into some rather bizarre places, the near-capacity house behind him every step of the way. And then it comes back, making funny noises and camp miming gestures all the way, and takes off in another unlikely yet, in context, totally feasible direction.
The fairly extensive warm-up package begins with Darby's bodyguard, park ranger Bill Napier's music video of his latest down-home pop single about his blessed occupation tending Nuzillan's majestic wilderness “like a lean clean mean green killing machine, without the killing”. After which, Mr Napier appears in person with the permission of Mr Darby to try his hand at this stand-up comedy thing which he reckons looks easy. From a medium distance in his khaki ranger suit and respectably full moustache, with his laconic southern-man drawl, he could be channelling a young Barry Crump.
Having warmed us up for the warm-up act proper, Bill introduces Cornwall's greatest hip-hop gangstsa-rap duo export, Hedluv and Passman. Hedluv wears the red beanie and the ‘Doin it Dreckly' teeshirt, plays the casio-tastic keys and raps. Passman's the one in the singlet and satin burgundy short shorts, with the Freddy Mercury vocals and the Village People dance moves.
Darby's definitively Kiwi character eschews the cringey ineptitude of his world-famous Murray persona, instead presenting an unapologetically potty-mouthed good keen man, often venturing into quite camp territory speaking both geographically and personality-wise. There's still a clear sensitivity to his nature, but he's been at it long enough now with enough success to provide the fortitude to take us on his wildly unusual ride with confidence.
His openly blunt dismissal of one determined nonsensical heckler, shouting over a scene-setting anecdote, is met with unanimous appreciation in the form of just about the loudest applause of the evening.
The night begins with Bill Napier, Darby's humorous alter ego park ranger from Pohutukawa Park. He treats the audience to stories of how being a man of adventure makes him the ideal support for the rest of the show. As a way of warming a crowd up, Bill Napier serves his purpose well (his poem about trees is particularly hilarious), leading us nicely into the main support act of the evening.
Hedluv & Passman are Cornish rappers who walk out in a humble manner; a manner which is at odds with the wonderfully bizarre four song set they deliver. Their opening song, ‘Doing it Drexly', is an undoubted highlight, leading into raps about swimming and nature. Whilst they are met at first with a fairly bemused response, their energy and lyrics soon win the crowd over, leading into a final number which has the entire audience up on their feet dancing along.
Passman is captivating with his wacky dance moves and Ron Burgundy looks. They are so unique that it is perhaps unfair to compare them to anyone, but there are definitely elements of ‘Flight of the Conchords' in their performance.
After a short break we are shown a wacky video introduction of Darby as an old man delivering a message from the long-lost city of Atlantis. Striding out onto the stage to large applause, Darby's brand of physical humour is in full effect throughout his polished ninety-minute set. From his early material on thieves and skinny jeans through to his stories about encountering gorillas in Rwanda and going to Loch Ness, this is a show which boasts plenty of notable laughs and set pieces assisted by a large projector screen and musical accompaniment from Hedluv & Passman.
Some of the best parts of the show are when Darby goes off on tangents, saying and doing things he obviously wasn't intending to but running with it regardless and seeing how far he can take it. A superb example of this comes when he describes being busy in his laundry and his hand movements resemble that of a Rubik's cube being solved. The results are almost always hilarious.
His material about the whimsical challenges and amusing quirks of his marriage feel especially refreshing and real, something which it would be great to see more of in future shows.
On the whole though, a Rhys Darby show is one of pure escapism. If you are willing to go along for the adventure with him, you won't be disappointed. This is a comedian at the peak of his powers and clearly having fun with it. The addition of the Cornish rappers Hedluv & Passman adds an extra layer to the key comedic set pieces in the show, providing a musical accompaniment which allows Darby to shine.
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