Rhys Darby: The Great Birthday Swindle

Rhys Darby.
Photo / Kate Little Photography
Rhys Darby. Photo / Kate Little Photography

This week we're sharing three extracts from Rhys Darby's new book, This Way to Spaceship. Check out the first on his slick dance moves. In the second, Darby shares his tips on maintaining popular party status. And today, he reveals the "Great Birthday Swindle".

"There's never a more popular time to be popular than on your birthday. Unfortunately that only happens once a year.

Or does it? I like to gamble with that dubious fact. You'd be surprised how people's attitudes change when you tell them it's your birthday. There's something inside us all that welcomes that thought with unabashed glee. As an experiment I have tried this on many occasions.

Here's what happened one day when I was a poor student with a part-time job selling barbecues. My boss was angry with me. I can't remember why, but to change his attitude I looked sad and announced under my breath: 'Damn me, I'm a fool ...

and on my birthday as well.'

On hearing this, the boss changed his tune and let me off lightly. He even gave me a longer lunch break.

Another time I was held up in a long queue at the bank. Time was ticking away and I had places to be, so I decided to play the birthday card. I faked a phone call on my cell phone. When I pretended to receive birthday wishes from loved ones on the other end of the phone, the people standing in front of me in the queue overheard and were nice enough to let me jump ahead in the line.

But the most fun I've had with the birthday ruse is using it on someone else by surprise. I was in the city of Invercargill on a stand-up tour and for dinner we hit one of the local restaurants. While we were being served our pre-dinner drinks I leaned over and gave a cheers to my buddy James.

'Happy Birthday, mate. Don't say I don't do anything for ya.'

This was overheard by a waiter. Five minutes later three servers arrived with free cocktails for all. Then after dinner the staff returned once more with more free drinks and a rousing rendition of the happy birthday song. James, the legend that he is, went along with the whole deception.

Finally the icing on the cake arrived - in the form of a cake with icing on it. We couldn't believe it.

'Talk about getting your cake and eating it too,' I said as we ate the cake.
James declared it was the greatest night of his life."

Reproduced from This Way to Spaceship with permission from Hachette NZ, RRP $39.99.

Here's Rhys Darby talking about his new book:

Life & Style Editor, Nicky Park, will be chatting to Rhys Darby next month. If you've got a question for the Kiwi comedian send us an email.

Rhys Darby will be touring NZ as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival, he'll also be appearing in bookstores for signing sessions and speaking at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival. For full details of where to see him click here.

- HERALD ONLINE

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 19 Apr 2014 19:40:07 Processing Time: 459ms