Less, not more Rhys Darby on our screens, please

22:20, Mar 31 2014

I'm unashamedly a proponent of Kiwi-made content on our television - not because I think it's my duty, but because I think it's generally under-rated and fantastic.

But I have a confession to make and I feel like it's going to change our relationship forever.

I cannot stand Rhys Darby and I don't care if his new show, Short Poppies, succeeds or not.

Please don't hate me. I've tried. Honestly, I have. I've watched his stand-up and yearned to laugh out loud, but it just hasn't happened.

TVNZ have announced all episodes of the show will be streaming for four weeks from 6.00pm tonight, but unfortunately it's not an April Fool's joke.

The show will air on television later this year, but due to a change in scheduling there was a danger this show would be available overseas before here, hence the streaming decision.


But the concept of 'Short Poppies' just turns me cold - it's not original and with Darby playing all the characters (except for the David Farrier reporter character which is played by er... reporter David Farrier) and improvising lots I can barely bring myself to watch.

This kind of comedy isn't new, even in New Zealand. Our own John Clarke, best known as Fred Dagg, did mock interviews in the 1980s.

More recently over-the-top characters were done brilliantly elsewhere by Little Britain and Chris Lilley.

New Zealand is often accused of being a decade or two behind the rest of the world and this show getting the green-light makes it seem more real.

Darby, who first came to my attention through his role as Brian Nesbit in the BBC Radio 4 Flight of the Conchords show (he was renamed Murray Hewitt for the television show), is a feature on our television - whether it's in adverts for 2 Degrees or in various shows.

But even his appearances on the likes of 7 Days leave me cold - it always seems to be about him and every quip is often accompanied by a smug smile.

Compare him to Chopper, who is genuinely funny and much better at making his humour fit within the confines of the show, and there's no contest as to who's the better guest.

But my biggest issue with the whole thing is this means that other opportunities for New Zealand comedy to be given a prime time slot may be lost to this.

I've attended numerous shows at the Classic and elsewhere and the talent in New Zealand is fantastic.

How about a weekly show with highlights from shows from the past week? Or how about giving our talented comedians who already have a career a shot?

In fact, let's go a step further. Given women are so overwhelmingly ignored on the likes of 7 Days how about we give Urzila Carlson and Rose Matafeo a show?

I can guarantee that it will not only be funnier than anything Darby will produce, but it'll also open the door for many more women to succeed in the business.

Just watch Carlson's stand-up or Matafeo's sketches in Jono and Ben at 10 to see what they're capable of.

The fact it's unlikely to happen just disappoints me further.

Do I expect Short Poppies to be a success and for me to be in the vocal minority?

Of course. And if it succeeds on Netflix it may have a brilliant knock-on effect for other Kiwi shows getting overseas deals.

But Darby is over-exposed and just not as good as a lot of the comedians in New Zealand - and I find it hard to cheerlead for that.

I will, of course, be watching and reviewing the series - if not for my own amusement, for yours.

Just don't expect me to like it.

Am I mad? Is Rhys Darby a comedy genius and I'm missing the point? Or do you find him less than funny?