Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Shakespeare Contributions to Flight of the Conchords

"Wingmen." By James Bobin and Jemaine Clement. Perf. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie.  Dir. Troy Miller. Flight of the Conchords. Season 2, episode 9. HBO. 15 March 2009. DVD. Paramount, 2007.  

Bardfilm hasn't often mentioned Flight of the Conchords. Despite the brilliant elements of the show, there's surprisingly little Shakespeare.

Indeed, the only previous mention came in a post about a student's film pitch for a musical version of Hamlet. That student suggested that Bret and Jermaine, the guys in the show, would make a terrific Rosencrantz and Guildenstern for a Rock Opera version of Hamlet (for which, q.v.).

That was back in 2008, before the second (and last) season of the show came out. And there's a couple of brief Shakespeare references in that second season.

The song "Rambling Through the Avenues of Time," a rough style parody of Billy Joel's "Piano Man," is a fantastical account of a woman that Bret met. Toward the end of the song, Bret's descriptions of the woman are qualified and questioned by Jermaine, which is the brilliant and hilarious part. Jermaine s particularly horrified when Bret compares the woman to Shakespeare's Juliet.

The second half of the song is excerpted below; after it, I provide the script / lyrics for your amusement.


JERMAINE
What was her name?

BRET
She said her name was a secret.
Then she said her name was Chérie.

JERMAINE
Is her middle name Chérie?
So it's "A Secret Chérie," maybe?

BRET
Mmm, maybe.

JERMAINE
What'd she look like?

BRET
She looked like a Parisian river.

JERMAINE
What, dirty?

BRET
She looked like a chocolate eclair.

JERMAINE
That's rare.

BRET
Her eyes were reflections of eyes . . .

JERMAINE
Oh, nice.

BRET
And the rainbows danced in her hair.

JERMAINE
Ah, yeah?

BRET
She reminded me of a winter's morning.

JERMAINE
What, frigid?

BRET
Her perfume was eau de toilette.

JERMAINE
What's that mean?

BRET
She was comparable to Cleopatra.

JERMAINE
Quite old?

BRET
She was like Shakespeare's Juliet.

JERMAINE
What, thirteen?

BRET
The bohemians of Soho did pirouettes
As we waltzed through the streets of Manhattan
On rivers of ribbon and sailboats of song . . .

JERMAINE
Bret, did any of this actually happen?

BRET
The girl I described, she's as real as the wind.
It's true: I saw her today
The other details are inventions
Because I prefer her that way.

JERMAINE
What, so you're saying you made all of that up?

BRET
I made ninety-five percent of that up.




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Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
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