Monday, May 7, 2012

Rhys Darby: This way to Spaceship

Currently, Darby's doing both the Comedy and the book signing circuit - Which must be a little confusing. He'll be fronting up to the Auckland Readers and Writer's week, I imagine dressed as he is on the cover as a pseudo intellectual, a boffin of comedic proportions. Humour and self deprecation are Darby's stock and trade - and self saturation thanks, in part to adverts with 2 Degrees Mobile and Flight of the Conchords. So it was interesting to see if his particular brand f awkward geek humour would translate to the written page. Um, er, yeah, no yeah! Maybe. Translation: I'm not really sure. Like reading an Irvine Welsh novel, the whole thing really won't work unless you read it with the voice (and I mean the aural and physical voice) of Darby himself. Sure you argue, all writers want to have a voice and to demonstrate that on the page. However, this book really doesn't work unless you can replicate that exact accent and intonation in your own head. Which left me sometimes glazing over some obviously funny bits and wondering why he'd written other bits. The skill of the whole was in the delivery - this is like reading a manuscript for the Goons, without the benefit of actually heard the Goons. And therein lays the rub - a book like this needs to stand alone - a mix of the writer's character, their novelty value and their enduring universal presence.

Ah, yes - you'd argue - who hasn't heard of "Murray" from the FOTC? Well, if you just had to think about that acronym, then you, dear reader, for a start. And will this book stand up in 5 year's when Darby has gone on to other things? Not sure there, either.

In content, "… Spaceship" cover Darby's life and philosophy on life from the abandonment of his father in childhood to views and opinions on the weird and obscure of everyday - essentially it's a very long script. Keep that in mind and it's also highly entertaining and worth the read. I'd love to give specifics, but as this one's embargo still, let's just say you need to go to the shows, watch the shows, listen to the shows - then read the extended play (i.e. the actual book it's self).

Things kick off with the inevitable growing up Kiwi (for the World fans I guess - but really a bit of a yawn) time in the NZ Army, which is hilarious and a small sojorn into his duty 'Flight of the Conchords,' but sadly without the real meal required by the more rabid 'Conchords' fans.

There are a few delightfully funny sections on about getting your confidence and introducing yourself at parties (a no-no for all Kiwis), including some brilliant pick-up lines - Try breaking the ice with this little doozy, ladies: "Wow, it’s a real who’s who of f**k-all here, isn’t it? Care for a spaceman candy stick (thats a type of candy - for all you non Kiwis - click here for a squizz) ? "

And for the blokes : "What are your feelings on Bigfoot?" Um, Huh?

Stuffed full of unique Darby-isms the book is at times funny but never at the expense of someone else, never smutty, and revealing a lovely innocence which is a rare trait for a comedian these days. The book is also filled with quirky little drawings, diagrams and photos from his childhood, which add to a light-hearted read.

But, sob, being funny and unique, the book doesn’t really fulfil the promise of an "autobiographical end of the world companion" due to a lack of personal detail to fully flesh out Darby’s real life. And while the spaceship theme gets clunky at times this is a minor grumble, really  Over all, all said and done, after the match is over, blah blah..."... Spaceship" is is still a wonderfully, whimsical read that's bound to put a smile on your fac
Link to a youtube clip promoting the Book: