Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie just announced a summer reunion tour for 2016, in which they’ll showcase their “new material.” This is a big move for the band, as the duo was allegedly working on a movie musical and keeping a tour on the back burner, just last fall. Although this tour means new projects are a little farther off, I can say with confidence that Jemaine and Bret are worth seeing live.
I thought watching Flight of the Conchords perform “Jenny” on HBO back in high school would have prepared me for their live tour, but seeing FotC perform was a hysterical experience. I mean, they are funny, so I was laughing along with the crowd, but when I say hysterical, I mean real, classical hysteria, as in “what’s wrong with your wife, better buy her a personal massager.”
I remember thinking, as I struggled against other women to get Jemaine to look at me, that seeing these two New Zealanders perform their “Weird Al”-esque discography live was as close as I would ever get to experiencing Beatlemania. Even my mother gets all breathy about Jemaine, who’s built his career on being approachably, almost confoundingly, attractive. He sings lead on “Business Time,” the band’s ode to boring, marital sex, the kind that gets penciled in between recycling and tooth-brushing.
There’s a scene in an old documentary in which Jemaine speaks to a female fan who keeps a photo of his lips in her wallet, alongside photos of her children. I remember watching that video with extreme discomfort, recognizing the same frenzied adoration that I felt for Jemaine in this woman’s wide eyes, and feeling genuine pain when Jemaine looked embarrassed. What is it about these deadpan, goofy-dressed dudes from New Zealand that lights people on fire, and why haven’t they turned their cult success into a movie yet?
Part of the problem with the duo’s HBO show was that, the comedians admitted, it was extremely difficult to write new material for each episode, after the show had burned through their discography. While Bret spent his break from FotC acting in Middle-earth movies, Jemaine made sentimental films like People Places Things and the wildly successful What We Do in the Shadows with Taika Waititi. His films capitalized on his comedic timing and unique sex appeal without venturing into musical territory.
It seems like an odd move for the duo to announce a tour, given that they’ve been appeasing hungry interviewers with the promise of a Flight of the Conchords musical movie for years. Back in September, Jemaine told The Guardian that a reunion tour wasn’t likely, and that a movie was the band’s primary focus. So what happened in the last couple months?
Perhaps the summer tour is an attempt to reset the clock; now that both members of the band have salt-and-pepper hair and have succeeded in their own creative careers, they probably need to return to the road together, reenacting their old, familiar pattern in an attempt to find their rhythm again. We can only hope this tour is meant to gauge interest and test out new songs for a future film. Either way, it’s worth buying a ticket for when they visit your city. Just trust me, don’t bring your girlfriend.