Gettin down to Business Time at Flight of the Conchords karaoke
In homage to his heroes, Jonny Ensall attempts Flight of the Conchords karaoke at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus
In the world of comedy songs there are plenty of one-off successes. South Park’s ‘Chocolate Salty Balls’ springs to mind, as does Spitting Image’s ‘Chicken Song’. Even the Goodies’ ‘Funky Gibbon’ had a certain primatal charm to recommend it. But they were one-offs on the whole. And though Flight of the Conchords haven’t written a number one single, they’ve achieved the rare feat of making song after funny song, all of which fail to grate after repeated listens. Their tracks get into the mind, demanding to be sung; performed; appreciated.
No wonder, then, that YouTube is stacked with videos of fans (mostly university-age males), strumming their guitars along to ‘Bret You Got it Going On’ or belting out ‘The Humans are Dead’ at open mic nights. There are now several part-time acts who have fulfilled part of the prophesy of one of the Conchords’ old jokes (that they have a tribute act who are slightly more popular than they are), performing under the name Like of the Conchords.
I too have a long-held ambition to perform some of FotC’s material, but have never quite been prepared to form a band to do it. Luckily, Edinburgh’s Electric Circus was on hand to offer List staff a private Conchords sing-a-long in one of their rather luxurious karaoke suites. I was, needless to say, well-rehearsed, and after some initial awkwardness I warmed up with a version of ‘Think About It’.
A suppressed burp ruined my first attempt, forcing me to restart (I was aiming for nothing less than perfection) but my second stab at the Marvin Gaye-alike song from series one of the Conchords’ HBO show was a classic. Some surprisingly soulful backing music really brought the sentiment alive: ‘They’re turning kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers; but what’s the real cost cos the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper … what are your overheads!’ Pivotal stuff.
Following this, a colleague moved us all with Bret’s ballad of emotional denial, ‘I’m Not Crying (It’s Just Been Raining on my Face)’. We were then treated to an authentically accented version of ‘Business Time’ before, inevitably, we looked to deal out the coup de grâce to the evening’s entertainment – a version of rap epic ‘Hiphopopotamus vs Rhymenoceros’. As comedian and comedy listings editor Siân Bevan (the Hiphopopotamus to my Rhymenoceros) remarked, the lyrics ‘My rhymes are so potent that in this small segment I made all of the ladies in the area pregnant’ are somewhat difficult to spit out. After a couple of false starts we managed however, mother flippin’ our way to a glorious homage.
It’s all credit to the Conchords’ music that their songs are not just good for giggles, they actually sound great, even when filtered through croaky vocal chords and stifled laughs. In short, I’m in awe, and at the risk of sounding like superfan Mel, just singing along makes me feel like I’m with the band.
Electric Circus, 36 Market Street, Edinburgh, 226 4224. www.theelectriccircus.biz