U.S. cult hit television show “Flight of the Conchords” follows the travails of a marginally talented musical duo from New Zealand trying to make it in New York City, but in reality the pair are far from struggling.
Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie already have one Grammy, have been nominated for another and the second series of their Emmy-nominated show returned to HBO cable network this month after an absence of more than a year.
James Bobin, co-creator and executive producer, said the second series was delayed by the 14-week writers strike, which ended in February last year, and “the boat to New Zealand,” chimed in McKenzie at the show’s red carpet launch this week.
McKenzie, 32, and Clement, 35, university friends who formed “Flight of the Conchords” a decade ago to improve their guitar skills, said they set out to make a “funny and musical” TV show and that creating the second series was a little easier.
“When we first started we didn’t know what we were doing,” said Clement. “We watched lots of sitcoms on video because we had never written one, none of us had written one before.”
That first series has now been shown in at least 18 countries — “apparently it’s popular in Sweden and Singapore,” said McKenzie, who “like most New Zealanders appeared in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but Bret is most well-known for wearing his stripy sweater,” according to the HBO website.
The duo’s self-titled debut album of songs (released via Sub Pop) from the first series set a new record for a New Zealand act when it opened at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 in April, surpassing the No. 12 peak for pop-rock trio Crowded House’s self-titled 1986 debut.
“It’s like the first time a kid beats his father in sports, some pride and some disappointment at the same time,” Clement said of the achievement by their debut album.
The duo’s debut has been nominated for a Grammy for best comedy album, but McKenzie joked — in the deadpan way the band are known for — that they don’t really need another award.
“We’ve already got one now, we’re pretty happy with that,” he said. “It’s a great statue.”
Flight of the Conchords won the Grammy for best comedy album last year for their EP “The Distant Future.” It was New Zealand’s first Grammy since opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa took one home in 1984.
The pair said they take inspiration from musicians such as New Zealand band the Front Lawn, “Mike Jackson, you might know him as Michael Jackson,” added McKenzie, and “Steven Wonder” said Clement.
The delay in the second series sparked speculation among fans that it could be the last. “Maybe,” said Clement. “We haven’t decided.”
McKenzie joked that he had been on the Internet a lot, starting rumors about the show’s future and Clement added “if he starts a rumor that it’s the last season, we might get a bit of a better pay offer.”