Ever since Jethro Tull beat out Metallica for the best-heavy-metal performance Grammy in 1989, the Recording Academy’s decisions have meant very little to people with half a clue about the record-making business. So it was no surprise that with a five-song EP, Flight of the Conchords — not Steven Wright — managed to snag Best Comedy Album honors last year.
But let’s not blame the Grammy folks for creating this two-headed comedy monster. It wouldn’t even be right to blame HBO, which, long before any Grammy nods, rewarded New Zealanders Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement with their very own half-hour special and weekly series.
Nope. The blame should be placed on the amazingly popular act’s dedicated and longtime followers. Having formed in 1998, FOTC is surely no overnight flash in the pan. They’re here to stay, no doubt, for many years.
The question that the duo’s first full-length release begs, then, is why is FOTC here to stay?
While their musical prowess proves far superior than any contemporary musical comedy acts, they’re certainly not offering anything overly innovative to the indie music community. And that would be perfectly acceptable if, as comedians, they offered anything innovative to comedy. But they don’t.
Most of the 15 tracks on their eponymous disc — three of which are on their EP — rely on the duo’s trademark dry, goofy sense of humor to pull laughs from their listeners. The shtick gets tired way too fast.
On “Muthauckas,” the boys rap through an admittedly catchy ditty, wherein they omit all-important consonants to naughty swear words like “fuck” and “shit.” Too much to wrap your brain around? Here’s the main hook to illustrate: “There’s too many muthauckers ‘uckin with my shi.” Get it?
On “Bowie,” the duo performs — you guessed it! — a song that sounds like a 1970s David Bowie tune. They not only lampoon the sonic style but also address Bowie directly, making jokes about his love affair for deep space — jokes that are 35 years late.
“Is it cold out in space, Bowie?” they sing. “You can borrow my jumper if you like, Bowie. Does the cold of deep space make your nipples get pointy, Bowie? Do you use your pointy nipples as telescopic antennae to transmit data back to Earth?”
And so it goes as Flight of the Conchords gracefully glide through 42 minutes of amazingly average jokes set to music. It’s been a popular sport lately to question why Dane Cook is as popular as he is. We submit that comedy fans should shift their attention to this pair and ask the same question.