After 60 shows, I finally ended my 2012 stand-up tour last week. I performed my show This Way To Spaceship to a packed CBS Arena in Christchurch.
My return to that city also marked my return to rugby. (I played once when I was at school.) After arriving early in the week childless, I was looking forward to a well-earned sleep-in in a nice hotel.
Unfortunately, on the day of arrival, my wife informed me that I'd be getting up early to go and train with the Canterbury rugby team!
I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. So I did both. That's the difficult thing with tears, they come in so many forms. Tears of laughter, tears of joy, tears of pain, tears of sadness and tears of ... sweat. (Sweaty eyeballs ... hmm, I may just be thinking of a Conchords song there.)
Anyway, I think mine were tears of anger because I was being denied my sleep-in.
Before I entered the rugby training facility, I was given the Canterbury rugby kit to put on.
"It's the smallest size we have," said Andy, my rugby contact.
"What do you mean by that?" I said, knowing full well what he meant. I was actually quite entertained with the thought that I might fit a professional rugby kit. In my mind this would mean that there are actual players the same size as me.
I was wrong. Once I entered the secret Canterbury Rugby training room, the full size of their flesh and might was thrust upon me.
Actually, let me rephrase that. I mean ... don't get me wrong, I'll keep that sentence but what I mean is ... visually. They were visually thrust upon me! Visually!
Anyway, these dudes were big. You forget how big rugby players can be. We're so used to seeing them on the television we think they're roughly the size of an action man.
"Hello everyone," said Andy, "I'd like you all to give Rhys Darby a warm welcome!"
The room full of massive action men cheered.
I was given the honour of "naming the team". I had a lot of fun with that. Everyone was in hysterics, so I decided to add my own name to the end of the list as a "bonus addition".
Expecting a huge cheer,I stripped my jacket off and pulled down my track pants, revealing my Canterbury gear ...
The room fell silent!
Yip, the message was clear. You can make us laugh but don't think for one second you can play in the team. Fair enough, fair enough.
Well, at least they let me train with them out on the field for 10 minutes after that.
So there I was prancing about on the grass with the big boys. I couldn't help thinking, "If only my mother could see me now."
Less of an action man and more of a Ken doll ... but still.