Rhys Darby: It's Rhys Darby Night, Udderbelly, Edinburgh

Julian Hall
Thursday 13 August 2009 00:00

The clue to one of this show's weaknesses is already in the title; it's homage time.

Of course it's exciting for fans of the hit US television show Flight of the Conchords to see one of their heroes play live. And it's fair that they should get an introduction not only to his range of skills – from sound effects to characters – but also to his life, now that he has gone from being a Kiwi delight to flavour of the month in the Big Apple and beyond.

But recognising his provincial-boy-made-good status is done in a way that comes over as a bit cocky or, at best, so matter-of-fact as to leave no room for self-deprecation.

A few mildly amusing stories of his new-found life in America and specifically LA, where he now lives, including having trouble with a prosthetic penis on a film set, constitute Darby's stand-up tonight. It's a slight portion of the show in terms of time and laughs and ultimately merely a preamble to his character work.

While the stand-up is muted, the character work is esoteric; a park ranger, a whale-watcher and a ufologist. Despite the obscure nature of his menagerie, Darby inhabits his creations to give them a decent depth.

His park ranger proves to be a buffoonish Luddite who smashed everything that might have a computer in it when YK came. His whale-watcher is equally flawed in his thinking, having only one life-jacket to offer his tourist charges: "if you twelve could just bunny up," he hopefully advises them. His trio of alter egos is completed by camp ufologist Steve Whittle, whose tale of abduction by aliens moves away from the idea that he was probed to the fact that he was manhandled.

From the character work the show progresses to such wheezes as recorded walkie-talkie exchanges of what the contrast between the activities of the LAPD and the New Zealand police might be, from "officer down" to "I've put the sausage rolls under a tea-towel."

Certainly there is plenty of variety here, with even a robot impression to round off the show, and given that you were never going to get a "band meeting" with Darby's Conchords character Murray (though one punter inevitably asks for one), any fan of Darby who is charmed by his line in hapless characters is unlikely to be deterred or disappointed by this show.

To 15 August (0844 545 8252)

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