60 Seconds With . . . Rhys Darby

On HBO's hit sitcom "Flight of the Conchords," Rhys Darby steals scenes as hapless band manager Murray Hewitt. The 33-year-old Kiwi comic recently wrapped his first feature film, "Yes Man," with Jim Carrey, and will be recording two stand-up performances at the El Rey Theatre this Sunday for his first DVD.

WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT AT THE SHOW?

My stand-up essentially is quite physical. I put aspects of mime and sound effects into my performance. I like to give a 3-D picture instead of just telling a story. I'll act it out and portray some characters.

YOU WERE IN THE NEW ZEALAND ARMY. IS THAT WHERE YOU LEARNED HOW TO DO YOUR HELICOPTER IMPRESSION?

I was doing helicopter impressions before then, but that's when I really nailed it. Before then, my helicopter wasn't sounding so good. I started off doing, "Chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga," and I've developed it into [makes uncannily accurate chopper sounds].

EVER USE IT TO FRIGHTEN YOUR FELLOW SOLDIERS?

From a distance, you can hardly hear it. It's really good with a microphone, but to get people to hear it without a microphone, you've got to get quite close to them, and by that time, they kind of sense that there's someone standing behind them. "What's that -- a helicopter just below my shoulder? Aw, it's just you."

HAS THE SUCCESS OF 'FOTC' CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

Now when I return [to New Zealand] . . . It was bit like that scene in "Star Wars: Return of the Jedi," where C-3PO is revered as a king amongst the Ewoks? Initially, I was caught in a big net, and then taken to Wellington, and then they released me, and I was scared I was gonna get shut down, but they just all started bowing! I thought, "My God, what have I done?" The New Zealand Herald, the biggest newspaper in the country, named me New Zealander of the Year. Well, it wasn't actually me -- they named Murray Hewitt for his services in entertainment. I was on the front page of a magazine and a documentary crew followed me around -- it was quite exciting. Some of my old buddies are getting famous by proxy. And my family's started using my name now to get cheaper groceries. "You know I'm Rhys Darby's sister." "Oh, really? Well, you can have that apple."' --

-- Pauline.Oconnor @latimes.com

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