In every screenwriting 101 class, they'll tell you drama is easy — it's comedy that is hard. You can multiply that adage by 69 when you're talking about songwriting.
Over the last 30 years, musicians like Beck and the Beastie Boys have dipped their songs' toes in comedy, and comedians like Jimmy Fallon have brought music into their bits. But really, only "Weird Al" Yankovic has made a career of writing comedic music, and he gets to crib his melodies and songwriting structure from the latest volume of Now That's What I Call Music . That lack of a track record makes all the more impressive what the New Zealand duo Flight of the Conchords have accomplished. Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement are able to pack large venues such as Mizner Park Amphitheater, where they will play this weekend, backed only by two guitars and their wit.
Relistening to their two albums — 2008's Flight of the Conchords and 2009's I Told You I Was Freaky — not only makes you laugh, but makes you eager for more. If you saw the two seasons of the HBO TV show bearing their name, you can't help but have hilarious images in your mind for each song.
In their classic show, McKenzie and Clement play exaggerated, socially inept versions of themselves who are living in hipster New York City and trying to make it big as a band. In the midst of each episode, the pair finds themselves in shenanigans ranging from hiring a bad actor (Will Forte) to convince their manager of his competence to trying to get girlfriends while escaping the clutches of their clingy sole fan (Kristen Schaal). They find a way to bridge scenes with videos of songs from their albums, which likely formed the bases for the episodes themselves.
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Much of the songs' humor is based on the ridiculousness of two horny single guys chasing women. The Conchords are kind of the New Zealand-bred descendants of Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd's Wild and Crazy Guys. McKenzie and Clement manage to spice up their music by exploring different genres. "The Most Beautiful (Girl in the Room)" and "Ladies of the World" channel 1970s R&B, while "Too Many Dicks (On the Dance Floor)" is Daft Punk taken to absurdity. They always manage to hit your funny bone as they pay tribute to countless other musical styles — even when they're not singing for the ladies. "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros" is the silliest of rap songs, and "Bowie" presents a spot-on Ziggy Stardust imitation that could bring a tear to your eye when you realize the Thin White Duke is no longer with us to laugh at the song.
Flight of the Conchords hasn't produced any new music in the past six years, but the members have been busy working on other projects. Clement codirected and starred in the spoof vampire documentary What We Do in Shadows. McKenzie won an Oscar for writing the music for The Muppets. Now, this new tour is giving hope for the future. Reviews have said the new songs they've played, from the jazzy "Shady Rachel" to the medieval ballad “1353 (Woo a Lady),” are earning loud laughs. There's even talk that the two are in the early stages of writing a script for a Flight of the Conchords movie. F
Flight of the Conchords
8 p.m., Saturday, July 16, at Mizner Park Amphitheater, 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Tickets cost $39.50-$55 plus fees; 888-929-7849; axs.com.