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Rhys Darby tells us how he can help us dodge the end of the world in VIP style, ahead of his new solo UK tour, This Way To Spaceship

“It’s amazing,” Rhys Darby says of his life. ”It’s been going well, career-wise, but at the end of the day, the essence of what I am about is stand-up, so it’s good to get to the point where I have got the proof I can produce a great show and am not just famous for being on TV.”

Darby’s waxing lyrical about his impending show, This Way To Spaceship, which lands in the UK this July. In particular, the Kiwi funnyman’s talking about Spaceship collecting the prestigious FRED Award for Best Show at the New Zealand International Comedy Festival this year. And, of course, the fame brought to him by a certain optimistic band manager, but more of him later. First off, though, Darby wants to tell us how to escape the apocalypse.

“I felt that it was 2012, the Mayan calendar was running out, there were, and still are, a lot of natural disasters happening, there’s global warming,” he says. “I thought: ‘What if things really are winding up?’” The end of the world makes for a pensive premise for a stand-up show – the death of the planet is hardly big laughs, but in the hands of Darby it serves as the launchpad for a predictably surreal, flight-of-fancy semi-autobiographical tale, with added spaceships.

“I was living in LA and filming a sitcom,” he explains. “Living the high life – I even had a pool! But I got to thinking that if the world ended, there were bound to be spaceships, somewhere, and, of course, ones for VIPs. But how would I get on there? The show starts with me on this ship looking back on my life and what I had done to get there.” What follows is a procession of ridiculous stories, some truthful, others less so, which flit in and out of Darby’s life, the comedian revelling in blurring the line between fact and fiction as he careers through vignettes of absurdity.

“I was inspired by Spike Milligan and his war memoir Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall, which features true stories as well as flights of fancy,” Darby says. “The reader can decide what is true and what isn’t. It’s good to have that sort of artistic licence to spin a yarn. One moment I’ll be talking about an actual story from my life, the next about having sex with a mermaid.”

Darby has a long association with the UK, first arriving in 2002 to pursue a career as a stand-up. “We didn’t have a comedy scene in New Zealand,” he says. “It always seemed like something that was happening in the UK or the US.” The journey to the northern hemisphere was not part of the plan from the start, however, and was only on the agenda after another curious alter-ego career path had been jettisoned. “I am the most unlikely candidate to have served in the military by choice,” Darby recalls of his army days. “I was in the army cadets at school and it seemed like a natural progression. My idea was to become an officer, my mother would be proud and I would lead a battalion into battle and rescue some POWs from a war-torn village.” Lofty aspirations, it would seem, for a military signaller.


Interview: Rhys Darby talks surviving the apocalypse and new UK stand-up tour, This Way To Spaceship
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