It turns out, the Berkeley Community Theater is not the best place to see comedians. One wants a cocktail table and a cocktail. That said, Monday night’s comedy concert with headliners Flight of the Conchords was about as great as a stadium-sized stand-up comedy event featuring large screen monitors to better see the performers’ facial expressions could be.
The Conchords touched down in Berkeley for the last night of their US tour, after the demise of their HBO show. The show was a partly successful situation-less com, in which New Zealanders Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement share a scummy apartment, fight over girls and perform in odd-ball venues (like in elevators) attended only by their downstairs neighbor (Kristen Schaal, as Mel, their creepy crawly baby-voiced sexually predatory fan.)
At Monday’s concert gig, the two appeared without the cumbersome addition of plot, and supporting cast members to achieve a very unplugged (though plugged) pared down and intimate version of their tête-à-tête, entre nous pas-de-deux – in an auditorium with 3,500 seats and two shows a night. Since most of the crowd opted to keep their eyes on the 2 big screens, the show was a little like watching TV with 3500 of your closest friends laughing together.
The one instance that watching the Conchords – their actual tiny far-away selves --was preferable was during their crowd-pleasing finale “Sugar Lumps” – in which the mild mannered duo shake and thrust their mid-sections at the audience. Noticing that many women in the front row were snapping pics, Bret took one woman’s camera phone to help snap a close up of his – confectionary bulge. Afterwards, the two were very apologetic and explained that the two men singing sugar lumps were just a fictionalized version of themselves and that they, Jermaine and Bret would never (hardly) thrust their groins at audience members.