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Music / Flight of the Conchords

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That's Bret on the left, Jemaine on the right, relaxing at home.

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.
On the prospect of making ends meet via prostitution, "The New Cup"

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.

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.
  • Affably Evil: The two muggers that Bret and Jemaine encountered. The more vocal one is outraged at the thought of anyone running out on a friend and befriends Jemaine when Bret does this to him. The quiet one returns Jemaine's camera phone, develops some of their pictures and on the whole seems like a very pleasant man...who just so happens to be a White Supremacist. In "Wingmen," the first mugger comes back to help Bret with a very ill-advised scheme to impress his date.
  • 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; "Rambling through the Avenues of Time" - "Piano Man" by Billy Joel; "I'm Not Crying" - "I'm Not In Love" by 10CC; "Foux du Fafa" -French jazz in general; "Hurt Feelings (Reprise)" is a dead-on take of the "Wise Up" Aimee Mann montage in Magnolia.
  • Allegedly Dateless: The boys often mention their woeful love lives, but half the episodes are about one or both of them dating, for obvious reasons.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Gender-flipped: Jemaine points out that Bret tends to be attracted to "bastard girls" who mistreat him.
  • Alliterative Name: Bret's the "pretty Prince of Parties."
  • Alliterative Title: "Foux du Fafa."
  • 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: Bret has anxiety dreams about cannibalism.
  • 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."
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: "Father and Son" plays with this in a very Conchords-ian way, depicting a father and son having an intimate and otherwise loving conversation after spending the day together... which keeps getting sidetracked with mood-killing facts like how the mom isn't dead, but divorced and with another dad, or that the son is actually 33.
  • 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.
    • Bret admits 95% of "Rambling Through the Avenues of Time" was completely false. The only true part is that he saw a girl.
  • Brick Joke: One episode features the Conchords 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 two seasons, a total of 22 episodes. The actors had too much difficulty writing songs to keep up with the pace of the series and ended it voluntarily.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: In-universe, Bret and Jemaine are complete losers who couldn't draw a crowd with their music to save their lives. Despite this, their songs are all quite catchy and clever. Word of God says they're better at expressing themselves in song rather than verbally.
  • Butt-Monkey
    • Bret and Jemaine themselves tend to be screwed over in every episode.
    • Murray is constantly humiliated and beaten down, though he generally brings it on himself due to making very poor decisions almost constantly.
    • Greg is Murray's Butt-Monkey, constantly sabotaged and treated poorly.
    • Doug, Mel's Unwanted Spouse who placidly puts up with all of her craziness and abuse.
  • 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 Latinicus
    Murray: 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.
    • And again:
      Murray: I can't go back there. I'm persona non regatta. You know what that means?
      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 Bret 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.
  • Cassandra Truth: After screwing them up so badly in "The Actor", Ben (Will Forte), a wannabe actor/dry cleaner, tells the boys he got a part in a movie. They dismiss it as acting. During the credits roll, we see a clip from said movie.
  • Catapult Nightmare: In a deleted scene from "The Tough Brets," when Jemaine calls Bret's name to wake him up, Bret suddenly sits bolt upright in bed, hands ready to karate chop someone, screaming, "Please don't chop off my penis!"
  • Celebrity Paradox: In several episodes, The Lord of the Rings is referenced. Bret was in The Fellowship of the Ring as an extra (specifically an Elf) and accidentally became a cult character when one fan made a website about him calling him 'Figwit' (meaning "Frodo is great, who is that?" A radio interview afterwards had the Conchords play their Lord of the Rings song, which featured in the series. It was such a popular thing that Bret was brought back and given lines for the extended cut of The Return of the King (as well as the never-spoken-onscreen name "Lindir",note  and given his own trading card. Peter Jackson talks about it in the director's commentary.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
    • The entire main cast, as well as everyone from New Zealand, right up to Prime Minister Brian.
    • Brahbrah is an eccentric woman who spends the episode looking for her epileptic dog she lost six years ago and whom she once dressed as a cat to sneak him into a party. At one point in the episode she thinks she found her dog, but it was actually another man's dog she was holding.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right: In "Love is a Weapon of Choice," Bret, who is generally slightly more absent-minded and foolish than Jemaine, is convinced that the woman in the park they met was named "Brahbrah." Jemaine doesn't believe him, but the end of the episode reveals that Bret was right.
  • 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 handle is on the other side in American cars (turns out he only adjusted the seat).
  • Denser and Wackier: The second season throws the few grounded elements of the first out the window and go full time into wall-to-wall absurdity.
  • 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, including one where they've actually taken acid.
  • Dissonant Laughter: Parodied in "Albi the Racist Dragon."
    "What are you doing here? I thought I killed you yesterday," grumbled Albi quite racistly.
    "No, Albi, you didn't kill me with your dragon flame. I crawled to safety, but I was left very badly disfigured," laughed the boy.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
    • The line "Britney... Britney hit me" in "Carol Brown." Granted, the song paints all of the ex-girlfriends in a negative light, but if it were gender-swapped, it'd be a rather abundant Mood Whiplash.
    • Zig-zagged with Bret in "Girlfriends": Lisa dupes Bret into having sex with her by lying to him about being a sniper who's about to get shipped to Iraq, and Bret, who doesn't want to have sex, feels violated afterwards. This, plus Lisa continuing to lie to him once he finds out the truth, then laughing behind his back, is very obviously supposed to make her out to be a cruel, loathsome person regardless of her gender, but is played for Black Comedy (in fact, it's more or less a spoof on the portrayal of rape in a lot of media), and would be downright impossible to do gender-swapped.
  • 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, perhaps a more bittersweet ending: After Bret and Jemaine sing in Murray's musical that they're illegal aliens in front of a full audience, including some New Zealand ambassadors, they are all deported and resume their former careers as shepherds, fearing that no one will ever again want to listen to their music. However, they seem just as happy to play their music in the sheep pastures of New Zealand as they are in their apartment or in empty clubs.
  • Dreadful Musician: Played with in the series. While Bret and Jemaine are shown to be talented musicians who can come up with elaborate and witty songs on the fly in Imagine Spots, the songs that they're actually shown playing in front of live audiences (like "Rock the Party") tend to be pretty dreadful. Coupled with their robotic stage presence, and it's easy to see why they're not popular.
  • 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.
  • Easy Evangelism: Parodied in "Albi the Racist Dragon." All it takes is a few words of wisdom from the badly-burnt Albanian boy and "suddenly he wasn't racist anymore."
  • 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.
  • Erotic Dream: Mel has two (off-screen) about Bret and Jemaine in "Murray Takes It To The Next Level." She's completely giddy about the first one, but the second was apparently so lewd that she actually demands that Jemaine apologize for it.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: The song "Angels" posits that angels live in the clouds above us, and primarily concern themselves with having sex.
  • Everything Dances: The title sequence features various household items in the Conchords' apartment bopping in time with the theme music. In the second season, this expands to include New York landmarks such as the Brooklyn Bridge.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: The logic behind the Conchords’ attempt to impress women with the French language in "Foux du Fafa". They take elementary French words and phrases and try singing them as seductively as they can.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Jemaine does this in "Unnatural Love" after the Victoria carriage driver tells him that he doesn't go to New Jersey like Keitha said.
    Jemaine: She said she'd done it before. (He realizes that Keitha tricked him). Oh no. Oh no.
  • Extinct in the Future: "Robots" takes place in the distant future of 2000, where all elephants and humans are dead.
  • Extreme Omnivore: 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.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Bret decides to wear one because of Bowie's advice. He feels cooler, but it backfires soon, as he loses his depth perception and stumbles into things.
  • Fanservice: Or Fan Disservice - "Business Time."
  • For Want Of A Nail: In "The New Cup," Bret buys a less-than-$3 cup for himself that winds up throwing the band's whole financial system out of whack and through a chain of events, the two wind up in jail.
  • "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 "New Fans" by randomly making out in front of Bret and Jemaine.
  • Glurge: Invoked and parodied with "Albi the Racist Dragon". After maiming a little Albanian boy with dragon-fire while trying to kill him, Albi realizes they're not so different, cries a single jellybean tear that turns "all the colors of the rainbow", and stops being racist; afterwards, he becomes friends with the boy (who's still stuck in the cave because he's so disfigured that everyone hates him), and they enjoy bubblegum pie together. In live performances, Jemaine's line of "because we're different" is usually followed by both Conchords stopping and staring gravely at the audience for several seconds.
  • 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.
    Pamplemousse! ...Ananas! ...Jus d'orange! ...Boeuf!
    Soup du jour! ...Camembert! ...Jacques Cousteau! ...Baguette!
  • Hammerspace: 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..."
  • 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—"
  • Hurricane of Euphemisms: "My sugarlumps are two of a kind..."
  • Hypocritical Humor: Mel gets jealous and this happens.
    • One example:
    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.
    • Mel looks jealous again because Bret is watching a girl from the pet store. She responds 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
  • Idiot Savant: Bret and Jemaine are both bumbling halfwits with No Social Skills and a strange perception of the world, but they're very good at writing unique and excellent-sounding comedy songs. Unfortunately, their poor understanding of their talents and what audiences actually want causes them to consistently play only their most banal and forgettable music when on stage, preventing them from ever actually making any use out of their skills.
  • 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!"
  • Leg Focus: 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.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!:
    Bret (singing):
    Eminem! Is not very good...
    Fifty Cent! Is not very good...
    But the Rhymenoceros is very very good!
    (insert your facepalm here ______)
    • 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."
  • Lousy Lovers Are Losers: "Business Time," a largely spoken-word Intercourse with You tune about a couple making love every Wednesday. The narrator doesn't seem to understand his girlfriend is unimpressed by his poor stamina and even seems to think it's a good thing.
    When it's with me, you only need two minutes, 'cause I'm so intense
  • 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...
  • Manly Tears: Bret and Jemaine both well up after watching their video of "Albi the Racist Dragon." They confess to it and get defensive about it.
  • 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: Jemaine or Bret sometimes ruin 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 Freaky" 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.
  • Mythology Gag: The line in "Bret You Got It Going On" about the time on tour when Jemaine put a wig on Bret while he was asleep was a nod to an incident mentioned in the radio series.
  • Negative Continuity: The second season, where for instance the Conchords lose all their furniture in episode five and have it back without any explanation in episode six, Bret dates an admittedly rather loony woman at the end of episode six who vanishes 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.
  • Noodle Incident: "Albi" is apparently "part 6" of a children's TV program. 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.
  • Not So Stoic: One episode reveals that Bret sometimes spontaneously breaks into dance when he's angry enough. Murray also thinks he's a bit of a diva because he briefly quit the band.
  • Oh, Crap!: Bret when he realizes he's taken LSD in "New Fans."
    Bret: Oh, flip.
  • Overly Long Gag: Bret performing a song he wrote for Coco that goes on for two hours.
  • 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. In the episode The New Cup, even Bret buying a cheap cup manages to throw their finances out of whack.
    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.
  • Person as Verb: "Garfunkeling"
  • 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
    Hey! ho!"
    • In "The Tough Brets" they try to trash-talk other rappers but the only thing they can say is that they're "not very good."
  • 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:
    • "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."
    Dave, Episode 7, "Drive By"
  • 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 Jemaine 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
  • Seduction Lyric: "The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)" is a hilariously inept seduction song, designed as a parody of Prince. As the title suggests, the singer really hasn't got the hang of flattering a girl.
    Why don't we leave?
    Let's go to my house and we can feel each other up on the couch...
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • The entire plot is driven by how the main characters are unpopular, uncool, unlucky, unattractive to women, broke, meek, and failing to get anyone interested in their music; they're also from a country no one has ever heard of or cares about, and are frequently mistaken for Australians, whom they loathe.
    • The series pokes fun of New Zealand, presenting it as a backwater filled with simpletons that is desperately clinging to its one claim to fame: being scenery in The Lord of the Rings.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: While neither is exactly manly, Bret is more in touch with his emotions while Jemaine is more assertive. Played with to a degree, as Jemaine tends to have a bad case of Can't Take Criticism while Bret is fairly stoic.
    • Murray is the Sensitive Guy to both their Manly Men, while Dave is the Manly Man to their Sensitive Guys.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The episode where Jemaine becomes a prostitute includes several references to Midnight Cowboy.
    • In the season one finale, Bret (and later Jemaine) dance out their angst a la Ren in Footloose.
  • 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.
    • Murray also delusionally believes himself to be a competent manager, when in reality he has absolutely no knowledge of what a band manager is even supposed to do.
  • Small Reference Pools: The show frequently references The 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: The 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 that 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: Happens very often. A serious issue regularly gets gender- or race-flipped for laughs.
    • The main plot of the episode "Drive By" gears up towards a "xenophobia/racism is bad" aesop, with Bret and Jemaine being picked on because they are from New Zealand, to the point of having to sit in the back of the bus. In the end though, the aesop turns out to be xenophobia is bad, unless it's against people from Australia.
    • "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.
  • Stalking Is Funny if It Is Female After Male: Mel's whole character is built on this.
  • Starving Artist: The Conchords themselves.
  • 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: Played 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.
  • The Stoic: It takes a lot to rile Bret and Jemaine. And even then, they barely raise their voices when they're upset.
  • 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" is supposed to be the sixth episode of a children's TV show which takes place in a literal Sugar Bowl world, while also featuring a racist protagonist who badly disfigured an innocent Albanian boy in a failed attempt to kill him.
  • Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: From "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros"
    They call me the Hiphopopotamus
    Flows that glow like phosphorous
    Poppin' off the top of this esophagus
    Rockin' this metropolis
    I'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 Bret's attempt at a 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
    • The band Crazy Doggz can be seen as a shot at one-hit wonders and performers who care more about their 15 minutes of fame than producing anything of substance.
  • Technology Marches On: invoked New Zealand is shown to be completely behind the times, including their technology. Bret gets VHS cassette tapes of TV shows sent to him by 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 epileptic 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 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.
  • Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: One episode features the duo getting a gig playing in an office elevator, and it's just as cramped as awkward as you'd think. Amusingly, they actually get a couple to slow-dance in the elevator in a later scene.
  • 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."
    • "Sugarlumps."
    • Not to mention "mutha'uckas" and "mother-flipping."
  • Wallpaper Camouflage: Suggested as a potential kink in the song "I Told You I Was Freaky."
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Bret runs away, leaving Jemaine behind with the muggers. 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.
  • Wimp Fight: In "Love is a Weapon of Choice," the end of the titular song has Bret and Jemaine flailing at each other. The actual "duel" is a clumsy and childish brawl with Bret and Jemaine trying to hit each other with toilet rolls.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: "I saw it in a sitcom." (Where it didn't work.)
  • Yaoi Fangirl: Mel is happy to discuss her fantasies of Bret and Jemaine together and makes a collage showing them as a couple with a child.
  • Yoko Oh No: In-universe. Parodied and lampshaded when Bret dates Coco.
    Jemaine (coughs): Yoko
    Bret: What did you say?
    Jemaine: Oh, nothing, just a bit of a cough.
    Bret: Hm, okay.
    Jemaine: No, it wasn't a real cough, I said "Yoko."
    Bret: Why did you say that? She's nothing like Yoko.
    Jemaine: Ohno, she isn't.
  • Zeerust: "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 I Want My Jetpack.

Who wanna rock the party?! Who wanna rock the party?!


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Flight Of The Conchords


Flight of the Conchords: Rapping

"Mah lyrics are bottomless!" (pause)

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