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Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

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Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby Venus » Sun Aug 29, 2010 12:41 am

Jemaine Clement: 'I was in a public park replicating gay porn pics in my underpants'
The Flight of the Conchords star talks to Killian Fox about his film career and appearing in The Simpsons

Killian Fox
The Observer, Sunday 29 August 2010


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Jemaine Clement arrives at the 25th annual Film Independent Spirit Awards in Los Angeles Jemaine Clement: 'I went into comedy because I was sick of being shy.' Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters/Corbis

In your new film Dinner for Schmucks, with Steve Carell and Paul Rudd, you play a macho performance artist with a penchant for nudity. Do you enjoy playing extroverts?

Yeah, it is really fun. In real life I'm very low-key. A wallflower. One of the reasons I went into comedy and acting was that I was sick of being shy. I guess I have an extrovert side and now I get to channel it.

How did you cope with the nudity?

One of the most embarrassing moments was when I was on holiday in Athens and they sent me all these references for the performance art. I checked my email at an internet cafe and opened a PDF with 20 or 30 pictures of naked guys. A lot of them were from gay porn. Some were of Colin Farrell. The studio needed one of me for the film so I had to find a photographer and say: "I'd like photos like these taken of myself, it's for a big Hollywood movie." I asked the photographer where the studio was and she said: "Studio? No studio." So I had to go to a public park in Athens and replicate gay porn pics in my underpants.

Are you excited about your new Hollywood career?

Oh, I'm totally here by accident, I never set out to do this.

It must be quite a culture shock, starting out doing small shows with Flight of the Conchords at the Edinburgh Festival and ending up in Hollywood.

The last Conchords live show we did was at the Hollywood Bowl, which is a bit different from the Gilded Balloon in Edinburgh. We would really have to bust our asses to get people along to the first Edinburgh shows, flyposting and all that stuff, which of course we don't have to do now.

How much did Britain contribute to the rise of the Conchords?

I would say, totally. If it were not for Edinburgh we probably would have quit by now, because in New Zealand you can't really survive doing comedy. When we were starting out there was a sense of the country being embarrassed by its own artistic output, by its own accent. The term we use is "cultural cringe". So it was great to go to Britain where comedy is so celebrated.

Do you get a better reception in New Zealand now?

The show is popular with certain people and everyone knows about it. It's a weird situation because people say: "Oh these guys are supposed to be good", but of course comedy, like music, doesn't appeal to everybody. So we get comments like: "Oh, it's only popular in America because Americans are idiots."

Of all the songs in Flight of the Conchords, which was the most fun to develop?

I always enjoyed "Leggy Blonde", which Rhys Darby sings in the first series. Maybe that's because I enjoy it more when I don't have to do something. We used to spend weeks writing the songs, but in the second series there would be times when we only had the afternoon before we shot it. But I quite like "Sugar Lumps". We wrote it in hardly any time, which isn't surprising if you read the lyrics. It's one of the most fun ones to do live. Everything else we play with acoustic instruments but that one we do with samplers. So much power, just by pressing a button!

You and Bret [McKenzie, Conchords co-star] have a Simpsons appearance coming up. Were you happy to be asked?

Yeah, we were over the moon. We don't play ourselves, because most people won't know who we are, but they'll look like yellow versions of ourselves. We play counsellors at an arts camp that Lisa's going to. It's pretty fun. We just went to a studio and recorded it, but, yeah, we were really flattered. I remember begging my mother to let me stay up and watch The Simpsons when it started as short sketches on The Tracey Ullman Show.

Next up, you're playing the villain in Men in Black III.

Yeah. My character's an alien, which means I have these prosthetics over my face and body. I've been travelling to the States for the last few months just to try on different prosthetics. Then I go home to New Zealand and have a totally ordinary lifestyle where I'm changing nappies [Clement has a one-year-old son, Sophocles Iraia, with his wife, playwright Miranda Manasiadis] and going to the park.

So have we seen the end of the Conchords?

There won't be any more of the TV show, but we'll still do the live thing. It might be fun to do a movie musical with a little bit of a budget. I say that just because we had so little budget on the Conchords and so little time to do the music videos, so it'd be great to be able to put a bit more thought into it.

Have you noticed you have internet fan sites? One of them is called Jemainiacs.

I haven't seen that one. What's funny about that is, it's a term I made up myself long before there were any such people. When we were doing the show in Edinburgh, we obviously didn't have any fans, so talking about having fans – female fans especially – was a hilarious joke for us and the audience. But when you've got a TV show that plays to enough people I guess there will be a certain percentage that fit into that category.

Mel was an obsessive FOTC fan in the TV series. Do you now have real-life Mels?

Oh yeah. The first people we experienced like that were Lord of the Rings fans, because Bret was in Lord of the Rings: he played a non-speaking elf. A joke fansite started around him called Figwit, which stood for: "Frodo Is Great, Who Is That?" Lord of the Rings fans would travel across Europe and even from the States to see us in Edinburgh. They would be hugely nervous, especially around Bret, which is odd when you consider how easy it is to be an extra on a film. But then we got our own fans. Often, in some of Mel's more bizarre storylines, we're quoting what people actually said. They're pretty nice, though. They send us a lot of knitted goods.

Dinner for Schmucks opens on 3 September


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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby funny schipperke » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:19 am

So I had to go to a public park in Athens and replicate gay porn pics in my underpants.


I've never wished I lived in Athens more than when I read that. :shock: :drool:
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby mockingbird » Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:18 am

Thanks for posting this awesome interview Venus. :thumb:

In real life I'm very low-key. A wallflower. One of the reasons I went into comedy and acting was that I was sick of being shy. I guess I have an extrovert side and now I get to channel it.

Does he ever get tired of saying this?

When we were starting out there was a sense of the country being embarrassed by its own artistic output, by its own accent. The term we use is "cultural cringe".

I've never heard this phrase before but it sounds so Kiwi, lol.

"Oh, it's only popular in America because Americans are idiots."

:lol: That must be fun to hear. ;)

But I quite like "Sugar Lumps". We wrote it in hardly any time, which isn't surprising if you read the lyrics. It's one of the most fun ones to do live.

:thumb: :nod: I'm glad he has as much fun doing it as we do watching it. Well maybe we have a little more fun. :twisted:

My character's an alien, which means I have these prosthetics over my face and body.

Nooooooooo!!!!

There won't be any more of the TV show, but we'll still do the live thing. It might be fun to do a movie musical with a little bit of a budget. I say that just because we had so little budget on the Conchords and so little time to do the music videos, so it'd be great to be able to put a bit more thought into it.

Yis! I love it when they talk like this.

I'm glad he thinks we're nice. :eyelashes: :lol: ;)
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby nonchalant obsession » Sun Aug 29, 2010 3:32 pm

Oh man, I loved this interview! :clap: Thanks, Venus! I shall follow mock's example and dissect my favorite bits.

Jemaine wrote:Yeah, it is really fun. In real life I'm very low-key. A wallflower. One of the reasons I went into comedy and acting was that I was sick of being shy. I guess I have an extrovert side and now I get to channel it.

I am facinated by the subject of introversion/extroversion. Shyness does not equal introversion though. I think Jemaine is, (or was) a shy ambivert. That man definitely appears to draw a great deal of energy from external sources so he probably isn't a true introvert. Though if it completely drains him to do so... :hrm: I would love to get him on my couch for a thorough examination....of his psychic apparatus of course. :halo:

Do you get a better reception in New Zealand now?

The show is popular with certain people and everyone knows about it. It's a weird situation because people say: "Oh these guys are supposed to be good", but of course comedy, like music, doesn't appeal to everybody. So we get comments like: "Oh, it's only popular in America because Americans are idiots."

Snobs. I'm disappointed when people denigrate something just because it isn't their cup of tea.

The J-dog wrote:I always enjoyed "Leggy Blonde"

:D He is more than welcome to enjoy me anytime he wants. :wink: I would have LOVED to see them perform this live. :nod: The lyrics must have been changed for the HBO series. I'll have to do some research...I'm sure the orginal is around here somewhere. Perhaps a recording?

So have we seen the end of the Conchords?

There won't be any more of the TV show, but we'll still do the live thing.

:whitey:
Big J wrote: It might be fun to do a movie musical with a little bit of a budget.

THE FULL MONTY, JEMAINE!!!

Have you noticed you have internet fan sites? One of them is called Jemainiacs.

I haven't seen that one.

He has quite the gift for not really answering the question, doesn't he. :lol: :shock:

Mel was an obsessive FOTC fan in the TV series. Do you now have real-life Mels?

Oh yeah. The first people we experienced like that were Lord of the Rings fans, because Bret was in Lord of the Rings: he played a non-speaking elf. A joke fansite started around him called Figwit, which stood for: "Frodo Is Great, Who Is That?" Lord of the Rings fans would travel across Europe and even from the States to see us in Edinburgh. They would be hugely nervous, especially around Bret, which is odd when you consider how easy it is to be an extra on a film.

Figwit!!!! :heart: There J goes, dissing Bret in LOTR again. :roll2: He'll never get over it, will he?
His royal hotness wrote:But then we got our own fans. Often, in some of Mel's more bizarre storylines, we're quoting what people actually said. They're pretty nice, though. They send us a lot of knitted goods.

FunnyS...are you still sending Jemaine your handiwork? :wink:

:rolls: Do I detect a subtle backhanded compliment there from Jemaine? Maybe I'm reaching, but just a slight touch of disappointment that their fans are "nice"? :lol: While we know the guys adore and appreciate all the crafts, baked goods etc...perhaps something not quite so wholesome would be a welcome change. :horny:
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby Sherry » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:16 pm

nonchalant obsession wrote:Oh man, I loved this interview! :clap: Thanks, Venus! I shall follow mock's example and dissect my favorite bits.

The J-dog wrote:I always enjoyed "Leggy Blonde"

:D He is more than welcome to enjoy me anytime he wants. :wink: I would have LOVED to see them perform this live. :nod: The lyrics must have been changed for the HBO series. I'll have to do some research...I'm sure the orginal is around here somewhere. Perhaps a recording?


I have a bootleg of the original version from 2002. Its never been posted on the site. It is nothing like the version that appeared in the show. Same with Mutha'ukas. You'd not even recognise them as the same songs.
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby nonchalant obsession » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:23 pm

How might I hear them? :eyelashes:
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby Sherry » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:30 pm

I've often thought about posting them here and sharing them, tbh I kind of don't want to. They are not the greatest quality and I certainly don't want them out there in the bigger universe being shared by the masses.

I'm not sure how I could share it via here unless I resort to PM and then trusting people to not share the link or the files with others. Sorry to be so cagey but we've never really shared these bootlegs and have always just kept them amongst a handful of us. Let me think about it.
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby nonchalant obsession » Sun Aug 29, 2010 4:39 pm

I totally get that, no worries. 8) Maybe when you have some time you could jot down the lyrics?
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby nonchalant obsession » Sun Aug 29, 2010 5:30 pm

mockingbird wrote:
Snakehips wrote:My character's an alien, which means I have these prosthetics over my face and body.

Nooooooooo!!!!

Don't worry, I can't believe they will completely obscure Jemaine's deliciousness. They wanted him for a reason, I'm positive they will take advantage of his many talents and assets or as I call it, "T & A" for short. :wink: So far no director has focused solely on his comedic prowess. Jemaine has the whole package, why waste it?
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby vmh » Sun Aug 29, 2010 6:01 pm

T & A! :rolls:
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James Bobin: “It’s like a five-year-old and a three-year-old. Jemaine’s the five-year-old, and Bret’s the three-year-old. They’re both wrong, but the five-year-old thinks he’s right.”
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby mockingbird » Sun Aug 29, 2010 7:24 pm

He is endowed with some pretty fine T & A. :lol:

I just realized something. I don't know how it escaped me before.

Jemaine wrote:I had to go to a public park in Athens and replicate gay porn pics in my underpants.


Do you all know what this means? These photos are out there somewhere. Oh, sunnyriiiiiiiingoooooooo......... ;)
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby Venus » Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:17 pm

^Haha, those pics have got to turn up somewhere. ;)

'T&A' :nod: :roll2: Lol nonch, I was thinking the same thing about Jemaine calling hardcore fans 'nice' :lol: but I'm sure he still loves the hardcore fans really. ;) And Bret's connection with LotR has definitely made a lasting impression on Jemaine. ;)

I've always assumed that they were going to continue doing the live thing until they said otherwise but I'm glad we've got confirmation! :whitey: :supz:

Oh and for the interview printed in the actual newspaper, there's a bigger version of this photo of Jemaine (with Bret cropped out):
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby kipples » Sun Aug 29, 2010 10:34 pm

Is that the only picture there was Venus?

I was considering buying it but it's a newspaper I've never bought before so I decided not to.
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby vmh » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:04 pm

How did you cope with the nudity?

One of the most embarrassing moments was when I was on holiday in Athens and they sent me all these references for the performance art. I checked my email at an internet cafe and opened a PDF with 20 or 30 pictures of naked guys. A lot of them were from gay porn. Some were of Colin Farrell. The studio needed one of me for the film so I had to find a photographer and say: "I'd like photos like these taken of myself, it's for a big Hollywood movie." I asked the photographer where the studio was and she said: "Studio? No studio." So I had to go to a public park in Athens and replicate gay porn pics in my underpants.


That's what you get for contacting a photographer in Athens! His mistake. He really should have just called one of us. I'd be over there in a flash and I'd do it for free.
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James Bobin: “It’s like a five-year-old and a three-year-old. Jemaine’s the five-year-old, and Bret’s the three-year-old. They’re both wrong, but the five-year-old thinks he’s right.”
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Re: Interview with Jemaine in The Observer

Postby Venus » Sun Aug 29, 2010 11:06 pm

Yep that was the only picture, kipples. There was also small version of the Film Independent Spirit award picture used for the online interview on Page 2 just indicating that there was an interview with him in that issue. The interview is exactly the same as the online version. :)
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