Rhys Darby
Comedian Rhys Darby on life in New Zealand

Rhys Darby: Feel the fear and stare zombie death in face

Walking Denver's streets after a movie proves an odd experience.

Before my very eyes were dozens of zombies walking the street mall, writes Darby. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Before my very eyes were dozens of zombies walking the street mall, writes Darby. Photo / Brett Phibbs

I love that feeling you get once you leave a cinema having just watched a movie during the day. Your eyes slowly adjust to the natural light and your mind, being a little slower, takes its time to separate the images of film from the reality you are suddenly facing.

If I've just seen an inspirational piece then the next hour or so can be filled with happy and creative thoughts. This, I guess, can be seen as the sign of a good film. It's what film-makers aspire to achieve. I never would have thought, however, that an opposite negative experience could occur during this phase of transitioning between art and reality.

But last week this proved to be the case ...

I was in Denver, Colorado, performing my latest stand-up offerings. The evenings were chilly but my comedic impressions of myself in odd situations were drawing in the crowds. Attendance numbers were good and the big laughs kept me warm on stage. The touring comic is a lonely soul, sometimes dabbling into conversation with a colleague in the green room but on the whole, we just stand around and try to cope with the random diversity that comes with the "job".

A touring comic's typical day roughly amounts to an hour of being laughed at and 20 minutes of being photographed. The other 22 hours and 40 minutes are spent in silence.

The comic (that's me) can be seen wandering through the town during the day in the vague hope that something weird will catch the eye and spark a new routine.

If nothing does, and it usually doesn't then it's a case of how much coffee can one drink and where are the movies?

I went to a daytime session of the horror film Carrie. It was pretty good, you know scary and thrilling. It was once I stepped out of the cinema though that the real horror began. At first I thought my mind was playing tricks on me, for there before my very eyes were dozens of zombies walking the open street mall. Was my head still focused on the horror of the film?

I had genuine movie-brain, of course, but I could swear that what I was seeing was real. Hordes of zombies, teenagers mostly, walking with bloodstained shirts and skin peeling from their faces. It was real, that was the problem. It was real and unreal all at the same time. In fact, it took me a moment or two to realise that it wasn't an actual apocalypse. It turns out I had just walked into the Zombie Crawl, the most popular free event in the Denver Zombie enthusiasts' calendar. Thousands of people dress up, or rather dress down, in ripped clothing smothered in blood. With their faces made up to look dead or half-eaten, they wander the city streets in a celebration of gore and disorder. Needless to say, I made my way back to the hotel pretty quickly that day. It was the first time I had ever felt the fear of being normal.

- NZ Herald

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