In 11 Questions, The A.V. Club asks interesting people 11 interesting questions—and then asks them to suggest one for our next interviewee.
Though he’s undoubtedly best known as hapless but present band manager Murray Hewitt from Flight Of The Conchords, Rhys Darby has been working in comedy and film for years. His latest role is as Jack, the new neighbor who has caught the eye of Valerie Bertinelli’s character on tonight’s episode of TV Land’s Hot In Cleveland. He’ll also be performing this Friday, November 28, at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Rhys Darby: I would probably put down rickshaw rider. This was in Christchurch, in New Zealand. It’s very much the Asian scenario of being a taxi driver on a bike and having the massive front seat. You get very drunk people on a Friday or Saturday night that want a lift from one nightclub to another. I really developed my calf muscles, but I received a lot of abuse from the drunken debauchery that was the student set in Christchurch back in those days. I only stuck with that job two nights before I abandoned the bike on someone’s front lawn and ran.
The A.V. Club: It never seems like the money’s worth it for that job.
RD: No, it doesn’t. It was good for fitness, but I think you want to be out drinking. I was a student as well, and I was like, “Why am I carting you around, having to work all night on this bike?”
I think they still do it. It’s a popular thing in a lot of cities. But it wasn’t for me.
RD: I never heard anything from dad, but I left school and became a soldier at 17. My mother was proactive, not in pushing me towards that, but was proud of the fact that I was making it in the army. I had dreams of becoming an officer and a gentleman. But hey: One out of two ain’t bad.
AVC: Was she sad when you left the military?
RD: A little bit. I left to go to university, and I told her I was going to get a degree and become a journalist. I stuck with it, and I did get the degree. But I think she just kind of felt like I was part of something—she liked the uniform. After that, I was a free spirit, and she didn’t think the comedy or the acting would go anywhere. That was like, “At least you were part of something back then.”
RD: I think Tintin would be my friend because he’s a reporter and an adventurer, I’m into all sorts of things that he’s into—intrigue and mystery and travel.
AVC: Do you know John Hodgman? He said Tintin as well.
RD: Did he?! He and I are quite similar. Damn him!
RD: That’s an interesting one. Which game show? I have to think of game shows now. The one where you have to figure out the word that’s up on the screen.
RD: Password—I’ve never heard of that one.
AVC: Wheel Of Fortune?
RD: Wheel Of Fortune! Yes. That’s the one. I’m quite good with turns of phrase and names of films. I remember the odd bit of dialogue or titles of things. I think I’d be good at anything where you’d buy a letter or something, and just spin the wheel — anything with spinning wheels and picking letters, really.
AVC: There could be a trick to spinning the wheel. But it seems like you could probably figure that out.
RD: I’ve got good timing, so I think I’d be good at the spin. I’d see where the thing’s pointing. I can imagine that spinning around two and a half times and landing there. Little bit of pressure. Yeah.
RD: I have no idea. Maybe conniving? Mysterious? And very connected.
RD: What would be on my sandwich? That would be a very bizarre sandwich. It would have duck, pork, pineapple, and tzatziki. And sweet chili, with some Swiss cheese, optional.
AVC: Is that a sandwich you’d actually want to eat? Or is it just things you like that you’re putting together in a sandwich?
RD: I’m just picking things I like. It’s probably terrible together. I can’t stand going to those sandwich bars where you’ve got to choose your own stuff, because I don’t know what goes together. It does my head in. I’d rather them tell me. I’m not the expert. I haven’t spent years learning these different combinations.
Maybe I’d add a sprinkling of hundreds-and-thousands, which is a little bit of candy.
AVC: Those would really stick in the tzatziki.
RD: It would normally be a car, I suppose, but that’s a bit boring.
What about my amphibious boat? It’s called a Sealegs: a motorboat with wheels that you drive into the sea, and then you push a button and the wheels come up. It’s a bit of a James Bond device.
AVC: How long ago did you buy that? Was it with Flight Of The Conchords money?
RD: No, a bit after that. It was about five years ago.
AVC: That’s sounds like a great thing to buy.
RD: As a man, you think, “Hey, man, I want to be like Bond or Tintin.”
My next dream is to have a mini sub. That’s a few years away yet. I have to do a few more roles.
RD: Mine is “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane.
RD: I think it’s a really bizarre song. I like the way they sing it. The lyrics are surreal—obviously, it’s about drugs and stuff. And it was in the Platoon soundtrack, which—that movie had quite an effect on me when I was a young lad about to join the army.
AVC: It’s a very dramatic song. That’s good for karaoke. You get to act it out.
RD: I can be really theatrical with it. I can really own the stage and create a scene and have people make an emotional attachment to it. Some of them will tear up when I’m hitting those big high notes, those big, long notes.
RD: In Scotland, in Edinburgh, I didn’t actually have anywhere to live, so it was with my partner. Before we were married, she had a flat with a roommate and a few others in a very small house. We were working, I was performing in the Edinburgh Fringe, and I decided to stay on, and so they put me in what they call “the box room.” In the U.K., they have these rooms called box rooms, which are half the size of a bedroom. It’s essentially a room meant to be where you keep all your boxes. I was hidden in there, not paying any rent for a while. The room was without windows, like a cell. I had no job, nothing going on. All I was doing was telling jokes. I had no money and was just staying there because I couldn’t afford to go anywhere else, until something else came up. It was pretty dire. I think we kept it quiet from a couple other people that were living in the house.
AVC: They didn’t even know you were there?
RD: I’d sneak in there in the middle of the night.
AVC: How many people lived in the house?
RD: About six people, so not too bad. As you know—well, I don’t know whether you do know—but apartments and things, especially in the U.K. and in Scotland, are very tiny. And expensive.
AVC: How long were you there?
RD: About three or four months.
RD: Out of anyone in the world?
AVC: Yeah, anyone in the world. Or anyone in history.
RD: Who would I take on? Who would I beat? Let’s see—who wouldn’t I beat? I’m up there, military trained.
I could probably, definitely take on David Schwimmer. He’s tall, but I think I’d bring him down.
AVC: You seem scrappier.
RD: I don’t know why I thought of him. He seems dopey. But I’m thinking of that episode where—didn’t Rachel meet a guy that looks exactly like him on Friends?
RD: I’m probably imagining that guy.
RD: Do I have anyone’s autograph? I’ve got Tony Hawk’s, although I just got that for my son, for a skateboard. But I got it. It’s probably one of the only if not the only autograph I’ve asked to get. Oh, and Bear Grylls, I’ve got his as well.
I think if I wanted to get one, I’d want to get someone in the intellectual realm, in the scientific world. Someone who’s actually achieved or something. The guy who discovered the—I’m assuming, it could have been a lady—the Higgs boson, the God particle. Let’s say: I’d like to get the autograph of the team of scientists who discovered that. That’s something, huh? It’s not something you can see, but they apparently discovered something. That would be a cool signature. You’d have to explain who they were, but then people would go, “Oh, yeah, they discovered the God particle, the Higgs boson! That’s right up there, man. I’ve also got Tony Hawk’s!”
AVC: You can get them to sign on the same sheet.
RD: One extreme to the other. He makes great ollies.
12. The bonus question comes from Emo Philips: “If human brains are finite, and God is infinite, that means we can never know the mind of God. Therefore, is not then the only true blasphemy that of accusing someone of blasphemy?”
RD: My answer to that would be 42. Put that down. Some geeks will know what I mean there.
AVC: What’s that from?
RD: Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.
AVC: Now you get to ask the next person a question.
RD: My question is: What is your favorite cryptozoological creature? And why? Cryptozoological means “hidden from science,” so it may or may not exist. It could be anything like Bigfoot, Nessie, the Owlman.
RD: Chupacabra’s a classic. Mongolian death worm. These kinds of things. I’m into that subject matter. It’s fun and funny, so that’s my question.
AVC: Do you have an answer?
RD: My favorite crypted is definitely Yeti because it’s once removed. It’s not as popular as Bigfoot or Sasquatch, but it’s more exciting. Yetis are of Tibetan origin, China or so, around Russia. They’re more of a snow-based giant hominid. Apes living up in the snow? That doesn’t make any sense! Well! People have seen them. What are they? Are they spiritual? Are they actual blood-and-flesh creatures that come into town and take your daughters? The tales are true!