I first read about Flight of the Conchords way back in 2003, at the height of the Lord of the Rings movie fever, thanks mostly to the attention earned by Bret McKenzie. The artist first rose to fame among hard-core LOTR movie fans when someone dubbed him, “Figwit,” as in, “Frodo is great, (but) who is that?” And “that” happened to be the cute elf cursing at a group of dwarves at the Council of Elrond scene. To please the fan girls, Peter Jackson revived with Figwit a four-line scene in film 3 as Arwen’s guard of sorts.

Four years later, McKenzie and band partner, Jemaine Clement, have their own comedy series on HBO titled, what else, Flight of the Conchords. The series features the folk music parody band hit New York in hopes of making it in the American music market. So far, they have hired a manager whose day job is as a staff member at the New Zealand embassy, and a fan. Now all they need is a gig, a record deal, and girls.

As they muddle through their music career, they also experience rejection, mugging, selling music out to a birthday card company, falling for the same woman, and getting odd jobs to get by. FOTC’s music is hardly LSS-inducing due to the irregular rhythms mish-mashed with retro, punk, rap, and electronic tunes. However, the songs eventually catch on you as the humorous lyrics roll in. Falsetto does not suit every one either, but it obviously works for the duo band.

In between scenes of each episode, the “band” breaks into songs that poke clever fun at some of life’s harsh realities, like falling in love, racial issues, body image, and their chosen profession. You will see Jemaine fall in love with a girl at a party who turns out to be Bret’s ex-girlfriend. Bret finds a co-worker “flipping hot…like a curry” in another scene. Among the most hilarious is still the piece, “Humans Are Dead,” which is about humans being replaced by robots (”It is the distant future/The year 2000″) as performed by the duo dancing the robot dance in their cardboard robot costumes. As it is a parody, the music video is recorded by their clueless manager with a camera phone.

It is the distant future
The year 2000
We are robots
The world is very different ever since the robot uprising of the mid-90s.
There is no more unhappiness.
We no longer say yes. Instead we say ‘affirmative’.
Yes, affirmative.

The band takes pride in being from New Zealand (”Just like Lord of the Rings,” as written in a travel poster) through self-deprecation. One episode shows the duo being denied their apples and bananas by an Indian street fruit vendor because of a cultivated racial distaste. It turns out that he thought the white guys were Aussies. When the issue is resolved, the next scene finds the musicians and the vendor abusing the guard at the Australian Embassy. In fact, the running jokes are not about the challenges of getting gigs or a record deal, but for being mistaken for another nationality or when even English-speaking people hardly understand their words because of the interesting accent.

My personal favorite is “Issues (Think About It)”:

They’re turning kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers
But what’s the real cost, ‘cause the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper?
Why are we still paying so much for sneakers when you got them made by little slave kids?
What are your overheads?

Season 1 is already on DVD, I hope that the cable network will revive the program for Season 2.