ZOO Weekly

IN THE ZOO WITH... RHYS DARBY

15 November 2010
Stand up of the day
0 stars
Comments:2
Howdy, Rhys. What kind of name is Rhys Darby, anyway? You sound like a Jane Austen male love interest.
I’ll take that as a compliment. At least it’s the male love interest.

And you’re one of those celebs with two first names — like Chris Martin or Kevin James…
You’re right. It is unfortunate. Actually, I used to read this children’s book that had a little girl in it, and her name was Darby.

What sort of parents assign their son the middle name Montague? Are you landed gentry or something?
Yes, they wanted something that sounded aristocratic, y’know? Something that if I ever got knighted would sound great. Their theory was if you give the kid a great name, he’ll have to live up to it.

So, what went wrong?
Ha ha! Nothing! I am living up to it.

If you say so. We noticed you’ve been doing ads for Hewlett Packard – does this mean you’re a PC guy?
Yes, I’m very PC. I’m politically correct, too.


You and Justin Long, the Apple Mac guy, don’t get on, then?
No, we don’t get on at all. We avoid each other at Hollywood soirées. Stick to our side of the room.

You’re famous for playing Murray on Flight of the Conchords. Are you happy your success has now eclipsed Bret and Jemaine’s?
Ha ha! Absolutely. I mean, when you look at my talent versus theirs, it was only a matter of time, really. But I’ll always remember them. Even fondly. Maybe send the odd Christmas card. If there’s ever a get-together or reunion, I’ll be sure to show up in my limo.

Is the true measure of success for any stand-up that they go on to star in their own rom-com?
I read that, which is why I hopped to it. And now I have two — so there! The first, Love Birds, is a New Zealand rom-com. I thought it was about time we made nice f----ing rom-com. The big thing for me is that it’s not clichéd — and there’s a duck in it.

A duck?
Yes, I’m a big fan of birdlife, and I’ve always wanted to act with a duck.

Er, rrright. They also say the mark of a successful Kiwi is when Australians start claiming you as one of their own.
I’m still waiting. I guess you guys will have to work out how you’re going to stake your claim.

You used to be in the army. Is there a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for stand-up comics, like if you were gay?
Ha ha! I was still a teenager, so I had no idea what I wanted to do — there was no such thing as a stand-up career in New Zealand. I enjoyed it, but I was always very comical, and I had a sense of humour, so I got myself into a lot of trouble. They aren’t traits suited to the army. It was good for morale in my unit… They said I wasn’t the right fit and persuaded me to move on.

You didn’t have the right stuff?
No. I was good at marching, though. And I’m an expert in Morse code…

When people tap a rhythm on their armrest, do you try to decipher the message?
When I first left the army, I would go and see war movies and disaster movies like Titanic — they’d do Morse code, and it would never be right. It’d be random bullshit. And I’d feel compelled to stand up and shout, “Hey, that’s not ‘come rescue us’, it’s ‘dog flap bucket’!”

You just did a Greenpeace ad…
I figured I had to do my bit for the environment. When I was a soldier, the only “green piece” I cared about was my gun. But I have kids now, so I figured I had to pitch in for the planet’s sake. But now it turns out that whole climate change thing is bullshit. I just can’t win.

Do you feel cheated that Al Gore took out the Nobel over your environmental efforts?
Oh mate, I’m used to it. “King of the Underground” — that was the slogan I used to give myself. No-one paid heed, though. I just keep on truckin’. As soon as you start collecting awards, it’s all over.

Your Wikipedia photo makes you look like Rod Stewart — you might want to sort that out.
I don’t know who organises that Wikipedia stuff. It just comes up. I’ll see if I can have it updated. 


You once described your hair as “electric copper”. Sounds like a euphemism for “ranga” to us.
It is, but I like the “copper” bit because it suggests something burnt by the energy coming from an insightful mind.

Speaking of hair, would you ever consider playing the supervillain Richard Branson in a biopic?
I could certainly pull off the look. Throw me some scripts, and I’ll get a voice coach and a new dentist, and we’ll go from there.

In NZ, you host a radio show on cryptozoology — so, what’s your favourite mythical animal?
The chupacabra. It sucks the blood of goats and chickens, and there’s all these eyewitness reports from Mexico. If you YouTube it, there’s even footage of this coyote-like thing running along. Some people say it’s an alien — it’s ferociously weird. Plus, it’s got a cool name.

No love in your heart for the Aussie bunyip?
That’s some little thing that hangs around water wallows, isn’t it?

No way — they’re fearsome monsters. They’d eat you.
Shit. Okay, I need to do some more research. Maybe when I’m over there, I can conduct an investigation and interview some of the victims and experts.

Your name’s been floated as the replacement for Steve Carell on The Office — true or false?
I can confirm that’s a rumour. There has been a phone call. That’s all I can say at this juncture.


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  • woodduck

    He's such a crack up, I reckon he'd be great on The Office!


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