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  • Writer's pictureStand-Up Comedy Historian

Famous Comic Cameos on Flight of the Conchords

One of my favorite aspects of Bret and Jemaine's brilliant HBO show—an early hyperfixation of mine—is the plethora of famous faces that litter the two seasons of hilariously awkward Kiwi humor.

So many alternative comedians have appeared in episodes, and I wanted to highlight some of the ones that stuck with me. Most I knew really well beforehand (hello, Demetri Martin!), but a few I was introduced to through the program, particularly the series regulars.

Apologies for the blurry front cover pics—for some reason, HBO thought a plastic wraparound was a great idea for DVDs, but they do NOT photograph well

Let's go!

  • Aziz Ansari—"Drive By"

While most people know him as Tom Haverford on Parks and Recreation or from his successful Netflix series Master of None, I knew Aziz from his time as a member of Human Giant (along with Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel).

My signed DVD from when I met all three at the Paley Center in 2008

So imagine my surprise when a familiar-sounding racist fruit grocer appeared on my screen! Too funny, and I absolutely ADORE Mutha Uckas (and have seen Bret and Jemaine perform it live—truly amazing song).

  • Will Forte—"The Actor"

Oh, GOD, do I love Will and his mellifluous voice. I first encountered him as Abe Lincoln on my beloved Clone High, and I have followed his career ever since then.

My DVD of Season 1—such an incredible show by Lord and Miller!

Fun fact: Will is on a track of Demetri Martin's album These Are Jokes, in which he improvises scats to Demetri's comedy (FORTNIGHT!). And Bo Burnham has said on multiple occasions that MacGruber is one of his favorite movies haha.

You'll see Kristen Wiig again below

Bo says that it's the one movie he would gladly watch every day for the rest of his life and warns the interviewer they won't be able to show his favorite clip

So I was well aware of Will when he made his appearance as a sketchy actor on the show. Not his most hilarious role, but he makes the most of it!

  • Demetri Martin and Todd Barry—"The Third Conchord"

This duo made my DAY when I saw this episode for the first time. I loved Todd on Dr. Katz and Demetri was still my favorite comedian at the time, so the combo of them with my new fave musical comedy duo was almost too much brilliance for me to handle lol.

Here's the incredible music video that is clearly based on the Macarena (gotta love the keytar and bongo solo!).

And I absolutely adore how Demetri keeps imitating Bret, much to his chagrin!

  • Kristen Wiig—"Love Is a Weapon of Choice"

As I had noted in the FotC influences list, Kristen appears on the show as Brahbrah, an attractive woman with a lazy eye and a missing epileptic dog.

It's your standard Wiig weirdness, but the fact that both Bret AND Jemaine fall for her hard is immensely entertaining.

This wasn't where I first encountered Kristen though. Before she was a regular on SNL and made a big splash with Bridesmaids, Kristen appeared as a beaureaucratic doctor explaining to Ricky Gervais he can't sue them for having died during his colonoscopy in Ghost Town. So funny in that role!

  • Jim Gaffigan—"Murray Takes It to the Next Level"

In another memorable cameo, Jim plays Murray's friend who does not vibe with Bret and Jemaine at all.

Again, I knew Jim very well before he appeared on the show (I first saw him on Comedy Central Presents and Dr. Katz and "Hot Pocket" was a huge pop culture phenomenon), but I was tickled to see him goofing around and singing a cappella with the boys and Rhys. Friends is still a banger imo!

And then there's the main cast who have had successful comedy careers of their own.

  • Kristen Schaal

One of the queens of alternative comedy who continues to reign over all forms of media, including every kid's cartoon ever and most adult comedy shows.

I have loved Kristen ever since I identified a little too strongly with her fangirl character Mel (I even dressed up as her for Halloween that year lol). The superfan also has vlogs on YouTube that are fun to watch.

She's amazing in everything, but my favorite voice acting from Kristen has to be the deeply troubled and chaotic Sarah Lynn on BoJack Horseman.

Oh, and she's made appearances with most of the other comics on this list, including with Will Forte on The Last Man on Earth as his wife Carol and with the next two guys as a monstrous upper class twit paired with Nick Kroll.

  • Rhys Darby

The man, the myth, the legend. After Bret and Jemaine, who do you think of when it comes to FotC? Murray Hewitt and his constant band meetings, that's who.

All three onstage last August—a Conchords reunion!

Rhys was the breakout star (everyone loved the New Zealand Consulate and its constantly changing posters), and he's received a second wind in his career with the massive success of Our Flag Means Death, co-starring with the next fresh face I've followed intently since the HBO show.

  • Taika Waititi

Where to start with Taika?

Now a world-famous director and Oscar winner, Taika has been on my radar since seeing him with the boys on the show. He even has a small cameo in an ad about telephones lol.

I also loved his indie film with Jemaine as a Napoleon Dynamite-type misfit: Eagle vs Shark.

And, of course, I will be going into greater detail about their Wellington vampire story and its spinoffs. Needless to say, the man is doing very well for himself. He's even started a modest modeling career during the writers' strike! Taika is like donuts on The Simpsons—is there anything he can't do?

Rhys replied! Aww

  • Arj Barker

Dave—he's not just a name from the first song of the show!

The American friend of Bret and Jemaine frequently misunderstands the Kiwi accent to hilarious effect ("He may be did." "Maybe he did, maybe he didn't..."), and the pawn shop owner often leant an ear to the boys' troubles and tried to help, emphasis on tried.

I actually was able to see Arj as the opener for Flight of the Conchords when they played at the Mann Center in 2016, where he was just delightful.

And during that same tour, Arj joined Kristen, Rhys, and FotC at a performance at the Greek Theater in LA. Wow, what a lucky audience!

  • Eugene Mirman

Another alternative comedian that I barely knew of prior to the show, Eugene plays the boys' landlord. He sometimes chimes in for their songs, and Eugene is a great addition in each instance (I particularly enjoy him playing the steel drums in You Don't Have To Be a Prostitute haha).

Fun fact: Favorite comic of the website, Kate Berlant, has said her comedic styling was initially based on Eugene and Sarah Silverman. So cool!

I was doing like a Sarah Silverman/Eugene Mirman like mashup

Finally, a bonus familiar face who is not a comedian but deserves special mention is Mel's mildly beleaguered and infinitely patient hubby Doug.

He might be more recognizable to you in a meth lab though.

Yes, it's Gale Boetticher! I think I'm one of the only people who watched Breaking Bad and thought, "Hey! That sounds like Doug from FotC!" Haha

Did I miss any cameos that you remember fondly? Please let me know, and good on ya!

For the complete list of New Zealand Comedy Month articles, please click here.


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