There are many reasons to be excited about the third episode of The X-Files revival, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.” In the episode, special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are investigating the FBI’s weirder cases again, which is an obvious draw. So too is the fact that “Were-Monster” is directed and written by Darin Morgan, the same man who wrote the celebrated episodes “Jose Chung’s From Outer Space” and “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose,” the latter of which earned him an Emmy Award for writing. Hell, even Silicon Valley star Kumail Nanjiani guest stars.
Let’s be honest, though. These are all great reasons, but the best thing about “Were-Monster” is New Zealand actor and comedian Rhys Darby. If his name rings a bell, that’s because you probably remember him as New Zealand consulate deputy cultural attaché-turned-band manager Murray Hewitt in Flight of the Conchords. Along with show creators and co-stars Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, Darby’s incredibly red hair got its big break in the United States thanks to the popular HBO series. Since then, he has appeared in movies, other television programs, and game shows — all the while touring as a stand-up comic. He even published a semi-autobiographical novel about space.
So, in celebration of Darby, let’s take a look at some of his best moments.
Every Single Time He’s On @midnight
Anyone familiar with the popular Comedy Central panel show, @midnight, will recognize Darby’s ginger hair, glasses, and accent from his multiple appearances on the program. His jokes aren’t always immediate, as the comedian’s humor often requires his audience to think a little, but that doesn’t mean Darby won’t go for the heavy-hitting punchlines. For example, consider his take on videos of vloggers crying for asinine reasons.
When He Played Norman in Yes Man
Yes Man isn’t one of Jim Carrey’s better films. However, the comedy served as Darby’s U.S. feature film debut, and he’s delightful in it. As Norman, the boss of Carrey’s character, Darby’s goofy performance provides the film with the genuine laughs it lacks elsewhere.
Pretty Much Anything From Flight of the Conchords
Of course, before Yes Man there was Flight of the Conchords. The 22-episode HBO series is both a beloved and critically acclaimed work of comedy, and Darby’s performance as the band manager, Hewitt, is partially responsible for its reception. Sure, Clement and McKenzie’s fictionalized versions of themselves were the focus of the show, but without Hewitt, the band never would have made it as far as they didn’t in New York.
“Werewolves, Not Swearwolves”
Darby’s professional relationship with Clement and McKenzie dates back to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In 2004, they appeared together on the Flight of the Conchords BBC radio series. (Darby played the band manager, but the character’s name was Brian Nesbit.) Since then, the three have collaborated with one another frequently, as with Clement and Taika Waititi‘s What We Do in the Shadows. Darby’s part as Anton the werewolf was small, but it still provides the film with some of its best bits.
He Wrote a Book Called This Way to Spaceship…
Ahead of the apocalypse on December 21, 2012, Darby wrote and published a satirical and semi-autobiographical book about trying to escape our doomed planet before its scheduled end. Titled This Way to Spaceship, Darby’s book imagined a scenario in which the world was actually going to end, and that the only means of salvation was earning a spot on a spaceship. “I’d like to think that I’m personally well on my way there,” Darby writes on the book jacket. “So out of the goodness of my heart I have written this book to help you get there too.”
…Which Was Also a Comedy Routine
The book itself was an obvious piece of comedic business, but it was also a part of Darby’s latest stand-up routine. Of course, it was still autobiography combined with Mayan calendars predicting the end of the world and spaceships, though Darby used the medium to change things up a bit. This meant more of Darby’s patented running jokes about silly, seemingly everyday things — like handshakes.
That Time He Played an Alien Abductee
Perhaps the most appropriate thing about Darby’s involvement in The X-Files revival is the fact that he once played a supposed alien abductee in his own Netflix show, Short Poppies. When all 10 episodes of the series appeared online in April 2014, major outlets greeted it with generous reviews. With an average of four-star ratings from its viewers, the show was well loved if not that widely seen. Even so, Darby’s turn as Steve Whittle, a ufologist whose support group meetings at a local library are usually laughed at, is an absolute delight.
Still don’t believe me? Well here’s a preview of Darby’s visit to The X-Files, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster,” which airs Monday, Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. ET on Fox…