Heels & Picks: Fashion talk with Rhys

Jan. 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

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BY ERIN SMITH / Special to the Star-Advertiser

Rhys Darby is coming to Honolulu.

I’m sorry, WHAT?!?

Like any devout “Flight of the Concords” fan, as soon as I saw the news on Instagram, I gasped out loud and immediately texted my boyfriend, who is an even bigger fan than I am.

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RHYS DARBY

Presented by the Honolulu Museum of Art

» Where: Doris Duke Theatre, 900 S. Beretania St.
» When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 28
» Cost: $45 general admission, $40 for HMA members
» Info: (808) 532-8768 or bit.ly/rhyshma

Another product of my friend Bran Apeles’ hard work to bring outside-the-box comedians to the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre, this show is not to be missed by anyone partial to the HBO show for which Darby is best known.

So what’s the story with “Flight of the Concords,” you ask? The show, based on a BBC radio series, tells the story of a pop music duo from New Zealand who relocate to New York City. They start working with music manager Murray Hewitt (Rhys Darby), who has a day job working for the New Zealand consulate and is possibly the worst music manager in the history of the business. Though the nicest of guys, Murray often books the pair at the airport bars, karaoke bars, or Central Park… in New Jersey.

Peppered with unforgettable, hilarious original songs with titles like “Too Many D—s on the Dancefloor” and “Most Beautiful Girl in the Room (Depending on the Room),” the show ran for two consistently great seasons on HBO. It’s possible I can still recite a decent amount of the funniest lines from memory.

I chatted recently with Darby by phone from New Zealand about his onstage attire, an upcoming eight-part television series, and of course, his thoughts on the best fashion New Zealand has to offer.

ERIN SMITH: This is a fashion-focused blog, and I’ve noticed from your stand-up specials you tend to lean towards casual rock clothes like skinny jeans paired with kicks and a casual shirt, possibly with a unique detail. Where did the rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic come from?

RHYS DARBY: For me, I do like rock ‘n’ roll. I like the idea that you have to have that rock feel to your attitude (to do stand up comedy).

I like to feel as though I’m going to rock the house, and that kind of Freddy Mercury feel has a lot to do with comedy as well. But at the same time you have to be a silly bugger. They need to feel that they can party with me, have a drink with me, laugh with me and laugh at me.

Rhys Darby, right, in a scene from "Flight of the Conchords." (Courtesy HBO)

Rhys Darby, right, in a scene from “Flight of the Conchords.” (Courtesy HBO)

Often on television I play the role of the uptight, nerdy guy and the clothing is also about me being more myself. At the drop off a hat I can turn into the nerdy lovable loser. My wife probably married the other guy, the cooler one, not the nerdy one. (Laughs)

You have to be a multi-sided dice, being a comedian, because if people think they know what to expect, you are very limited. You have to surprise them. I filmed a show in New Zealand where I play eight different characters, two of which are women.

ES: Is that the “Short Poppies” series? I had heard that you have an eight-part mocumentary coming out this year.

RD: Yes, people will see a lot of different sides to me with that series. I didn’t want to play seven different white men, and I didn’t want to portray any other races, because that always leaving some people uncomfortable, so I decided to portray a couple of women.

Rhys Darby. (Courtesy photo)

Rhys Darby. (Courtesy photo)

ES: I have to ask. Did you wear heels?

RD: You know, I did not. And the reason for that is because I’m not a short guy. I’m not too tall, but I’m like 5’9” and when you put me in heels I start to look like a transvestite. It made me awkwardly taller than the other actors I was working with.

So thankfully, no, I didn’t have to wear them.

ES: What’s the best men’s clothing store or line coming out of New Zealand that the rest of the world is missing out on?

RD: There’s one called Mr. Mister. They do a great range of suits and smart casual wear. They do three-piece suits, bow ties and really cool patterns on their shirts and trousers. I wear them often.

ES: Are you looking forward to your trip to Hawaii?

RD: I’ve never been to Hawaii, first time. I’m coming with my wife and we’re celebrating our anniversary.

For more of my conversation with Darby, check out TGIF this Friday, Jan. 24, where I ask about his hair (Electric Copper), his experiences with “Flight of the Concords” and his ultimate bad gig (aka Murray gig, per his “Flight of the Concords” character).
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Erin Smith is a singer and guitarist who performs as a solo artist and with Maui-based Na Hoku Hanohano Award-nominated band The Throwdowns. Born in Canada, she moved to Hawaii in 2004 and now resides in Kailua. Contact her via e-mail or follow her on Twitter.

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