Darby's flying high

FEELING HOMESICK: Rhys Darby is looking forward to being on home soil.
FEELING HOMESICK: Rhys Darby is looking forward to being on home soil.

All Rhys Darby wants for Christmas is to get back to New Zealand.

It's not that he's unhappy with life in the United States, where he's been based this time around since about June. But, as he says down the line from Los Angeles, "it's all very well being over here, but, you know, it's not there, it's not New Zealand".

"I just miss home. I`m looking forward to a New Zealand summer," he says.

He and his family – wife Rosie and children, Finn, 6, and Theo, nearly 2 – will get their Christmas wish, flying back to New Zealand next week for a well-earned break.

"I can't wait to get home. We're just going to have a good old Kiwi Christmas in the sun."

Adapting to family life in the US has been an interesting experience, he says, especially with Finn attending school.

"It's a bit weird, to be fair.

"But the kids are taking it in their stride. Finn, we've been dragging him around the world since he was born so he's used to it."

And Christmas in the US has been something for the kids especially to enjoy.

"It's a bit over the top, I tell ya," he says.

"There's houses around here that must have spent millions of dollars on their Christmas lighting and there's a lot of fancy sort of Santa workshops and things like that in the shopping malls. There's been no expense spared on massive reindeer decorations and what have you."

Darby, who first came to fame as the bumbling Murray in Flight of the Conchords, has released a DVD of his last standup comedy tour of New Zealand in time for Christmas, and says live comedy remains his passion, despite his career also turning to movies, television shows and writing.

"I do love standup. No matter what I do with acting and filming various things, it's still the heart of what comedy is to me. Either making things up off the cuff or telling people personal stories of crazy situations I've been in, just getting that instant feedback of live performance ..."

And while the DVD was filmed on the last night of his 2010 tour in Auckland's impressive Civic Theatre, Darby says he recalls performing in Hamilton and says – as most other visiting comedians do – he always gets a good reception in the city.

"It was one of my best shows. It's where you are located there, you've got to have a good sense of humour and you like to have a good laugh, you can laugh at yourself."

Darby has made a successful career out of getting people to laugh at him and it's got to the stage where – in shades of British comic Rowan Atkinson – "I kind of can just pull some weird shapes and people tend to laugh at the way I look".

Darby, 37, grew up on a diet of British comedy and still claims Michael Crawford's performances as the bumbling and hapless Frank Spencer in Some Mothers Do Have 'Em as an inspiration.

"He was one of my heroes and, of course Rowan Atkinson's stuff, Monty Python, I was a big Monty Python fan."

In recent years, he says there's been an influx of British comics to the US, led by the likes of The Office star Ricky Gervais, and that's helped make that style of comedy more popular.

"I have been lucky to get myself established at quite a good level here, people know what I do so it's been quite popular, that kind of style, so we've sort of fitted in there."

Which means he'll be in the US for a while yet, although he spends a fair bit of time in the air flying around the world for his varied roles.

"I'll be actually heading over to the UK as soon as I get back to the US. I'm doing a TV show over there. Talk about jumping about. I definitely make use of the elite lounges, I tell you that much. They all know me by my name."

Along with films, television and comedy shows, Darby has also found time to write a book, due out in about April, but says his ultimate dream is to be able to live and work back in New Zealand.

"It's kind of a double-edged sword, being as successful as I can be in my chosen field but not earning enough money to be in New Zealand, because there are not really the jobs there.

"But what I want to try and do ultimately is to create a television show where I can get the US or UK to fund it and make it but actually shoot it at home, that's the dream."

No reason to doubt he'll get there, but until then he'll have to settle for a decent break back at a Kiwi beach for the summer and there are also plans for another tour of New Zealand too.

"I'll be back next year, I'm working on a new show now which I'm going to take to the UK and do a tour, I haven't done a UK tour yet. I'm going to come to New Zealand and sort of get it worked on before I take it over there so it'll be nice and fresh, around about April or May next year."

Until then, fans of Darby will have to be satisfied with his latest DVD.

The DVD It's Rhys Darby Night was released on Monday.

Waikato Times