Rhys Darby

Comedian Rhys Darby on life in New Zealand

Rhys Darby: Marching to a different beat on Anzac week

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All dressed up to salute the military and joy of being your own man.

Dad's Army ... comedians Rhys Darby (right) and Jarred Christmas dress up for Anzac Day. Photo / Supplied
Dad's Army ... comedians Rhys Darby (right) and Jarred Christmas dress up for Anzac Day. Photo / Supplied

I get my man beard shaved by a man now. I've been heading down to Flash City, the barber shop in Ponsonby. A wet shave from a barber is quite the experience. Lots of hot towels and tea tree smells mixed with classic blades and after shaves. It makes me feel free ... like the man I always wanted to be. I make my own choices in this realm. I'm a man, a man who knows what he wants and who pays for it with his hard-earned man cash.

With my new short hair and thin moustache I was ready to leap into my role as artist manager. Things have gone swimmingly with my Cornish rap band Hedluv and Passman. They've proven themselves on several occasions thus far and their fan base is now in the double figures. My original plan was to showcase them as part of Kiwi music month but that backfired due to their being British. So in a rare fit of quick thinking I seamlessly slipped them into the local comedy festival.

Talking of comedy (and I usually am), who should show up on my doorstep, but one of the greatest New Zealand comedians of our time, Mr Jarred Christmas.

There he was with his trademark chops and psychedelic sneakers. Jarred and I know each other very well. My wife Rosie gave him his first open spot back in 1996 in Christchurch. Since then he's virtually conquered the world of live comedy and as if "showing off" he chooses to reside in London.

I opened my front door and greeted him with one of my classics ...

"What do you want?"

"It's Anzac week. We should do something," he said.

Then I remembered about our shared love for all things military. Jarred himself came from a military family and of course I'm an ex-soldier with a constant desire to dress up.

"Let's dress up!" I said.

It turned out that he was thinking what I was thinking plus as a bonus, he'd never been to Motat (Museum of Transport and Technology). Motat is one of my favourite places in Auckland. I've loved it ever since I was a kid. Being there fills you with this wonderful sensation of stepping back in time ... and that's even after the refurbishments! As it happens, Motat was in the middle of "military month". What a perfect scenario for two grown men who were now fully dressed in odd fitting army uniforms. Once inside we proceeded to have one of the greatest days of our lives. We got yelled at on an assault course, laughed at on the rifle range and stared at blankly as we delivered jokes to onlookers in the history section. Jarred's hilarious banter had me in stitches.

"You should do a show in the festival." I told him.

"I am," he said. "It's all about being your own man."

"Oh, I know all about that." I said, touching my well-groomed face.

Then we sat with some kids and made medals using cardboard and snips.

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