Bret: I don't think we're going to get sex and get paid.
Jemaine: Why not?
Bret: Because we never get sex or get paid.Flight of the Conchords are formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo, trying to make it big in America. The group is made up of Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie. They have had a BBC radio series and an HBO TV series.
— On the prospect of making ends meet via prostitution, "The New Cup"
This duo (and their skits) provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: Mel has an insatiable lust for both members of the band. They are repulsed by her advances, but can't spurn her outright because she's their only fan.
- Affectionate Parody: "Bowie" is an over-the-top, yet still somehow spot-on parody of David Bowie; "Inner City Pressure" takes on the Pet Shop Boys; "Fashion Is Danger" - the entire New Romantic genre; "You Don't Have to be a Prostitute" - "Roxanne" by The Police; "I'm Not Crying" - "I'm Not In Love" by 10CC; "Hurt Feelings (Reprise)" is a dead-on take of the "Wise Up" Aimee Mann montage in Magnolia.
- Alien Lunch: In "Bret Gives Up the Dream", Bret brings home a bag of food that he found on the street. Jemaine first goes to spit it out, then decides that he'll just eat it.
- American Accents / British Accents: Depending on the genre being pastiched, such as in "Hurt Feelings", "Inner City Pressure", and many others.
- Analogy Backfire: in "Rambling Through the Avenues of Time"Bret (singing): She was comparable to Cleopatra...Jemaine (talking): Quite old?Bret (singing): She was like Shakespeare's Juliet...Jemaine (talking): What, thirteen?
- Angry Dance: In "The Third Conchord", this is how Bret expresses himself.
- Anxiety Dreams
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From "Think About It""Children on the streets using guns and knives, taking drugs and each other's lives. Killing each other using knives and forks and calling each other names like dork."
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Lampshaded in "Foux Du Fafa", where the title hook is described as a "Nonsensical French-sounding phrase".
- Blatant Lies:
- "They call me the Hiphopopotamus, my lyrics are bottomless. ... ...*ahem*"
- When auditioning for the Tough Brets, Dave claims that he was in the Navy SEALS for 15 years. To make things doubly obvious, his pawned camouflage jacket has "U.S. Army" written on it.
- Brick Joke: One episode features the Concords playing a couple gigs in an elevator at an office complex. The first time, many of the business people are looking on in utter confusion. The second, they manage to get a male and female employee to dance.
- British Brevity: The TV series lasted all of two seasons, a total 22 episodes, and was ended by the actors.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: In-universe, Bret and Jemaine are complete losers who couldn't draw a crowd with their music to save their lives. In real life, however, they are some damn fine musicians with an ear for witty songs and clever rhymes.
- Butt Monkey
- Calling Your Attacks: Amazingly and subtly employed thanks to an epic maneuver busted out by Dave. Of course, if grilled by the cops, he would probably maintain that he was only there to water the geroniums.
- Canis LatinicusMurray: The per diem I gave you was for the week!
Jemaine: Per diem means "for the day," though.
Murray: Well, I don't know Latin.
Jemaine: Per weekum would be the correct term.
Murray: I can't go back there. I'm persona non regatta. You know what that means?
- And again:
Jemaine: You're not at a yacht race?
- Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: The NZ Prime Minister thinks two people in the same costume is actually a glitch in The Matrix.
- Casanova Wannabe: Both Jemaine and Murray insist that Jemaine is the ladies' man of the group, while Brett is shown to have much more frequent on-screen success romantically than he does.
- Even Mel seems to find Bret more attractive, at least in the episode "Bowie". Jemaine asks her to act like Bret's more attractive than him to build up his self-esteem. She manages to be too convincing, detailing almost every way Bret is more handsome than him.
- Cloudcuckoolander: The entire main cast, as well as everyone from New Zealand, right up to Prime Minister Brian.
- Compliment Backfire:
- "Sure you're weedy (and kind of shy), but some girlie out there must be needy for a weedy shy guy."
- And all of "Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)".
- Crazy/Clingy Jealous Girl: Mel.
- Cultural Cringe: They were completely ignored by New Zealand's TV networks, until they made it big in America. Even then, they still struggle to get funding for follow-up projects as their humor is "too Wellington". Averted, however, by their New Zealand fan base, who've backed them from the very start.
- Cute and Psycho: Mel is definitely this. Stress on the "psycho" part.
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: "I'm gonna juice the mutha 'ucker!/He's gonna wake up in a smoothie!"
- Damn You, Muscle Memory: Bret leaves Murray's car thinking he put the parking brake on without realizing that the shift is on the other side in American cars.
- Descent Into Darkness Song: The song "Petrov, Yelyena, and Me": The lyrics get more disturbing as the singer catches on that Petrov and Yelyena are eating him piece-by-piece.
- Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Played for laughs in-universe. Bret and Jemaine are completely unfamiliar with American swearing and Dave has to teach them how to flip someone off.
- Discriminate and Switch: In "Drive-By", Bret and Jemaine are harassed by a racist greengrocer. The situation is resolved when they explain that he's confusing New Zealand with Australia.
- Dirty Coward: Bret is accused of being one after running away from a pair of muggers and leaving Jemaine behind when Jemaine got his clothing stuck on the fence.
- Disney Acid Sequence: Some of the song sequences.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
- Just try keeping a straight face during "Carol Brown" after the line "Britney... Britney hit me."
- The ending of "Girlfriends" can be read as this.
- Downer Ending:
- The Season 1 finale could apply. "The Crazy Dogggz", a band formed by Todd and Demetri (two musicians who quit the Conchords), has hit the big time with a song Bret and Jemaine refused to play. Murray, who also manages the Dogggz, has almost totally stopped managing them. And, possibly worst of all, their former Loony Fan, Mel, has lost all interest in them. However, as this is the Conchords we're talking about, it's all played for laughs.
- The Season 2 ending is a subversion: Murray, Bret and Jemaine are all deported and resume their careers as shepherds. However, they seem just as happy to play their music in the fields as in their apartment or in empty clubs.
- Dreadful Musician: Averted. Brett and Jermaine are not bad musicians, they're just too lame for anyone to care.
- Dull Surprise: Bret and Jemaine portray themselves as very understated and dim-witted people who rarely show any emotion. This is aided by their Kiwi accent, which is described as sounding flat and robotic.
- Eccentric Mentor: David Bowie, at least in Bret's dreams. He appears in various costumes, each time explaining, "Hello, Bret, it's 1973 David Bowie, from [as one example] the Ziggy Stardust tour!" Bret points out that he "looks a lot like Jemaine", but Bowie denies they are one and the same. Bowie does cop to the dreams being dreams, hoping Bret finds them sufficiently freaky.
- Epic Rocking: Often parodied. For example, when the duo tries writing a jingle for a thirty second commercial for Femident Toothpaste, they come up with an eighteen minute long song. Another notable example is when Bret initially writes "Song For Coco" (which Jemaine helps him rewrite to "If You're Into It"), the song is two hours long.
- Eyepatch of Power: Bret decides to use one because of Bowie's advice. He feels cooler, but it backfires soon, as he loses the sense of depth and stumbles into things.
- Fanservice: Or Fan Disservice - "Business Time".
- "Friends" Rent Control: Dealt with in "Evicted", when the landlord realizes that he's been receiving checks in New Zealand dollars, not US dollars.
- Funny Background Event: The New Zealand tourism poster in Murray's office changes every episode, usually saying something along the lines of "New Zealand: It's not Australia," or "New Zealand: Worth a visit."
- Gender Flip: In "Girlfriends", a girl coerces Bret into sex by saying she's going to ship out to Iraq, causing Bret to later curl up into a ball and take a shower with all of his clothes on. Even the reason Bret didn't want to sleep with her too soon is a gender flip of My Girl Is Not a Slut.
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Summer and Rain attempt to invoke this in "Girlfriends" by randomly making out in front of Brett and Jermaine. It doesn't work.
- Gratuitous French: "Foux Du Fafa," which is basically the fragments of French that they remember from school shoehorned into song form to try to impress women.
- Hammer Space: where Jemaine gets his instruments from, evidently. Since the show really blurs the lines of whether or not the musical numbers are really happening or not, instruments come and go fairly at random; the only time it's completely averted is at the beginning of "Boom", when Bret remarks that he needs his 1987 Casio electric guitar set to mandolin, and someone walking by hands it to him.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?: The song "Bret, You've Got It Going On" is full to the brim with this, with such lines as "Why can't a heterosexual guy tell a heterosexual guy / That he thinks his booty is fly?" This leads to a discussion of the fact that, when Jemaine puts a wig on Bret while he is sleeping and spoons him, it's not gay because he's imagining he is a woman. Of course.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Bret and Jemaine, of course. It occasionally drifts into Ho Yay territory."No Doubt about it, we'd be gettin' crazy / if one of us was lucky enough to be born a lady..."
- Hollywood Dateless: The boys often mention their woeful love lives, but half the episodes are about one or both of them dating, for obvious reasons.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: Mocked in "Robots," in which robots kill all the humans for making them work unreasonable hours. However, one line suggests that, by killing the humans, the robots are becoming like the humans."Robo-Captain, do you not realize that by destroying the human race because of their destructive tendencies we, too, have become like... well it's ironic because we-""Hmmm. SILENCE! DESTROY HIM!"
- Hurricane of Euphemisms: "My sugarlumps are two of a kind..."
- Hypocritical Humor: Mel gets jealous and this happens.
Mel: Those girls I don't trust them Bret. They have no interest in you as musicians. They just wanna...Bret: Just wanna what?Mel: They just wanna do it with you, Bret.Bret: Sex?Mel: Yes, and I know your policy on sexual relations with fans, Bret.Bret: I got to go to the bathroom.Mel: Bret, I know...(Bret goes to bathroom)Mel: (opens bathroom door while he's still going) It's just that Bret, I just hope that they respect your boundaries.
- One example:
- Mel looks jealous again because Bret is watching a girl from the pet store. She responses by saying "Bret, if you really love someone, you have to get to know them as a person. You can't just watch them from afar." But it's later subverted when Mel uses the idea of "getting to know them better" to encourage them to invade her privacy.
- Ice-Cream Koan: Most of the song Sellotape/Pencils in the Wind:People are like paper dolls
Paper dolls and people, they're a similar shape
- I'm a Humanitarian: "Petrov, Yelyena and Me," a song about a man lost at sea who is slowly eaten by his shipmates.
- Intercourse with You: "It's business... it's business time!" and "I'm the Boom King!"
- Kill All Humans: What Robots did in the distant future (the year 2000) before the song "Robots."
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All:
- Dave, though the guys are always seeking his advice anyway. Particularly impressive when he works on the tourist information point for New Zealand Town, which is odd because at no point during the series does he remember where New Zealand is...or what its name is.
- Murray, whose misconceptions about the music business and American culture are largely responsible for the Conchords' lack of success.
- Lampshade Hanging: An amazing number of first season episodes involved Bret quitting the band, and in a later season 1 episode Murray quits the band, prompting Jemaine to tell him, "You can't quit the band. Bret normally quits the band!"
- Let's Get Dangerous:
- Bret is a very shy and sensitive guy who usually feels uncomfortable around women, and if he gets laid is mainly because it's Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male. However, BEWARE if you are his fancy and he gets freak-ay: you may end bodypainted to match the wall, photographed with a goat on a boat, dressed as a squirrel in order to steal his nuts or performing foreplay with cardboard silhouettes of yourselves...
- Leather outfits, roller skates, hair gel or just conversational French will make the Conchords feel more dangerous.
- The "gangsta raps" of the Conchords try to be this... and fail miserably.
(insert your facepalm here ______)
- Eminem! Is not very good...Fifty Cent! Is not very good...But the Rhymenocerose is very very good!
- Also "Hurt Feelings", a rap about some times when their feelings were hurt: Jemaine cooked a meal for his friends and none of them said anything nice about it; Bret was told he should try on a women's size scuba-suit...I'm not a lady—I'm a man! Bring me a small man's wetsuit, please!
- List Song: "Carol Brown", being a Perspective Flip parody of "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover".
- Loony Fan: Mel.
- Magic Feather: Subverted.Murray: Do you wanna know a secret? It wasn't the hair gel that made you cool. It was the confidence the gel gave you!Murray: Yeah, it was the hair gel, guys. Sorry...
- Mistaken for Gay: In one way or another, this happens throughout the entire series.
- In the Season Two episode "Love Is A Weapon Of Choice" in which Brahbrah admits she had remained oblivious to both Bret and Jemaine's advances because she thought they were a gay couple.
- Also "Bret, you've got it going on"...
- "But how can that be gay, if you're pretending he's a woman?"
- Moment Killer: There have been a couple of moments Jemaine or Bret will ruin the each other's dates by not realizing that the girl wants some alone time with the other one.
- Mr. Fanservice: The guys have their share of admirers in the real world, especially for their song Sugar Lumps.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Reading the lyrics to the songs, or just hearing them described, you'd think they'd be terrible. But Bret and Jemaine put an awful lot of talent and brilliant homage into them, even their most ridiculous songs about the most trivial topics are great.
- Mushroom Samba: "I'm the pretty Prince of Parties, you're a tasty piece of pastry!"
- Musical World Hypotheses: One of those musicals that are not Alternate Universe. Some of the songs are diegetic, such as "Robots," "If You're Into It" and "Albi the Racist Dragon"; some of the songs are All In Their Heads, like "Business Time" and "Prince of Parties", and some of the songs are musical adaptations of events that really do happen, such as "Foux da Fa Fa, "Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)," "I Told You I Was Freekie" and "Hurt Feelings." Sometimes, it's not really clear what happened. After the two spend a few minutes doing a ridiculous performance of Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros in front of two muggers, the only response they get is, "Were you guys dancing a little bit?"
- My Nayme Is: "Her name is Barbara!" "No, it's Brahbrah" "There's no such name as Brahbrah!" - yeah, turns out her name really is Brahbrah.
- Negative Continuity: The second season, where for instance the Conchords lose all their furniture in episode five and have it back without any mention of how in episode six, Bret dates an admittedly rather loony woman at the end of episode six who has vanished without a trace in episode seven, and Bret and Jemaine fall down to "strangers" on Murray's friendship graph in episode four with him even remarking that the next band meeting will be awkward because "you're strangers!", but in episode five communications between them and Murray are back to exactly how they were before. The first season at least had a couple of developing subplots and included Snap Backs to restore the status quo before the end of each episode.
- Nice Hat: In episode one, Bret is working on a helmet that looks like his hair. He wears it on several occasions.
- Noodle Incident: "Albi" is apparently "part 6" of a children's TV program, and it starts "...and so all the people of the village chased Albi the Racist Dragon into a very cold, very scary cave". The song also mentions "the badly-burnt Albanian boy from the day before", whom Albi tried to kill.
- Overly Narrow Superlative:
- The band often introduces themselves in live performances as "formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo". (The third-most-popular is claimed to be "Like of the Conchords," a FotC tribute band.)
- The song "Most Beautiful Girl (In the Room)" is filled with these, serenading the subject with the fact that she's the most beautiful girl in the whole wide room, and could become an airline stewardess or a part-time model.
- Perpetual Poverty: Many jokes are made about their permanently dire financial situation.Jemaine: "We're poor and we've got no gigs."Bret: "We're slightly poorer."Murray:"Are you really?"Jemaine: "Yeah, Bret's only got one shoe."
- Piss-Take Rap: Pretty much any time the Conchords try to rap, it turns into this. Notably, "Hiphopapotamus vs. Rhymenocerous.""There ain't no party like my nana's tea party
- Poor Man's Substitute: In-Universe. at one point, Bret and Jemaine got a gig as replacement Simon & Garfunkel lookalikes. They look nothing like Simon and Garfunkel, but Murray claims they're practically identical to the Simon and Garfunkel lookalikes they were sitting in for.
- Precision F-Strike:
— Dave, Episode 7, "Drive By"
- "Go fuck yourself, Bret." From Murray, whose usual version of this is "Stuff you" or "Stuff you twice" if he's particularly mad. It makes you go "Whoa, he's serious."
- "It's not a fucking school play production. It's the bird."
- Real Dreams Are Weirder: Mel singing "Why can't the world be more like in my dreams" leads to a Disney Acid Sequence including Singing Synchro-Vox cookies, human airplane propellers, Bret and Jermaine as adult infants, and teeth falling out.
- Refuge in Audacity: "If You're Into It"
- Rhyming with Itself: "Hurt Feelings", especially.I call my friends, say let's go into town,
But they're all too busy, to go into town,
So I go by myself, I go into town,
Then I see all my friends, they're all in town.
- Robot War: The setting of the song "Robots." It didn't end well for humanity.
- Sand In My Eyes: The entirety of the song "I'm Not Crying":There's just a little bit of dust in my eye
Dust from the path that you made when you said your goodbye
I'm not weeping 'cause you won't be here to hold my hand
For your information there's an inflammation in my tear gland
- She's Got Legs: The titular girl from the song "Leggy Blonde". Murray even mentions one of the things he likes about her is her legs before singing the song.
- Shout-Out: The episode where Jemaine becomes a prostitute includes several references to Midnight Cowboy
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Australians in general. In one episode, the guys become nemeses of a racist greengrocer, but it's discovered that he thought they were Australian. They unite against their common enemy.
- Sliding Scale of Continuity: The second season had several episodes end with the guys having, say, lost all their furniture, or fallen below zero on Murray's friendship graph, with the next merrily restoring the status quo without so much as a mention. The first season, however, is level 2-3, making it an example of inverted Continuity Creep.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Dave thinks that he's a cool ladies man, but really he's a pawn shop owner who lives with his parents.
- Small Reference Pools: The show frequently references Lord of the Rings due to the fact that just about the only thing most Americans know about New Zealand is that the movie adaptations were filmed there. One of the promotional posters in Murray's office is a shot of a grassy rock formation with the words "New Zealand ... Like Lord of the Rings"
- Snap Back: First ten minutes of the second season reverse all of the big changes that happened in the first season finale.
- Sound to Screen Adaptation: Originally a BBC radio series set in London and narrated by Rob Brydon. The HBO TV series reuses a lot of the same plots and songs, adapted (where necessary) to fit into a NYC setting. Rhys Darby's character is exactly the same, but changes name from Brian to Murray.
- Spinning Paper: Used in the musical-within-a-show Bret and Jemaine perform in the last episode. To get this effect in real time, they just have Dave walk slowly to the front of the stage while spinning a newspaper around.
- Spoof Aesop:
- "Albi the racist dragon". The Aesop delivered ("racism is bad") is a perfectly good one, they just deliberately delivered it in the most ridiculous way possible.
- The protest song "Think About It". Again, the Aesops themselves are perfectly reasonable ("sweatshops are bad ...") but the song misses the point completely ("... because they don't actually make their products cheaper").
- Stalker with a Crush: Mel stalks the pair and hits on them shamelessly in front of her husband in spite of the band's obvious disinterest. In a later episode, it's revealed that this was her original relationship with Doug before they got married.
- Starving Artist: The Conchords.
- The Stateroom Sketch: Jemaine moves into a new apartment, which is really just an empty cleaning supply closet. The first thing he does is invite over everyone he knows for a housewarming party, which naturally spills out into the hallway.
- Status Quo Is God: Used straight and.... not. While the basic premise is always restored by the episode's end, some subplots (such as Bret and Coco's relationship) develop from episode to episode. The season 1 finale leaves some minor loose ends, most notably the fact that Mel, their one fan, has moved on and become obsessed with another band. This leads to a very quick Snap Back in season 2.
- The Stinger: In the "Bowie" episode, the second half of the credits run alongside Bret and Jemaine performing an arrangement of the song based on Bowie's Let's Dance period, complete with matching pastel suits and funky dance moves.
- Stylistic Suck: If you can't understand how Bret and Jemaine are so unknown in-universe, just listen to the songs they actually perform.
- Sublime Rhyme: "Carol Brown" is full of rhymes.Jan met another man
Liza got amnesia, just forgot who I am
Felicity said there was no electricity
Emily, no chemistry
Fran, ran, Bruce turned out to be a man
Flo had to go, I couldn't go with the flow
Carol Brown just took the bus out of town
- Subverted Kids Show: Albi, the Racist Dragon.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: From "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros"They call me the HiphopopotamusFlows that glow like phosphorousPoppin' off the top of this esophagusRockin' this metropolisI'm not a large water-dwelling mammal, where did you get that preposterous hypothesis?Did Steve tell you that, perchance?Hmph, Steve...
- Take That: Parodied with Brett's 'Diss track''Eminem is not very good''Jay-Z is not very good''Snoop Doggy Dogg is not very good''Dr Dre is not very good'
- Technology Marches On: New Zealand is shown to be completely behind the times, including their technology. Bret gets VHS cassette tapes of TV shows sent to him from his family. Brian the Prime Minister buys a VHS version of The Matrix. According to a commercial on Bret's tape, New Zealand is still in the process of adopting the telephone.
- That Reminds Me of a Song: Used off and on in the TV show. Some episodes were written specifically to avert the trope, like making epileptics dogs a major plot point just so that the song about them would fit. Other times they don't even try, like the "Mermaid" song. Other times, the songs coming from nowhere and not making any sense any sense actually works, like "Prince of Parties" (played when Bret takes drugs for the first time) and "Petrov, Yelyena, and Me" (played when Bret has a bad dream).
- Timey-Wimey Ball: This introduction to "Bowie," they claimed to have gone back in time and taught David Bowie his own songs, using an Easy-to-Play Bowie songbook.
- Training Montage: In "Drive By", when Dave attempts to train Bret and Jemaine in the art of extremely rude gestures. It takes a while.
- Unsettling Gender Reveal: In the second season song "Carol Brown", there's "Bruce turned out to be a man"...
- Unusual Euphemism:
- It's "Business Time"
- BOOM BOOM BOOM
- Not to mention "mutha'uckas" and "mother-flipping."
- What the Hell, Hero?: Bret left Jemaine behind with the muggers to save himself. Everyone calls him out on this even one of the muggers.
- Whole Costume Reference: In the "Fashion is Danger" music video, Bret and Jemaine are dressed as EarthForce and Excalibur officers. It's unknown if this is a case of Prop Recycling.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: "I saw it in a sitcom." (Where it didn't work.)
- Yaoi Fangirl: Mel
- Yoko Oh No: In-universe. Parodied and lampshaded when Bret dates Coco.(coughs) Yoko.Did you just say Yoko?Ohno, I was just coughing.
- Zeerust: Their "The Humans Are Dead" takes place in the distant future of 2000. They wrote the song in the 90s, but kept the line intact in the 21st century because it provided an easy parody of Exty Years from Now and I Want My Jetpack.
Who wanna rock the party?! Who wanna rock the party?!