Bret McKenzie's Academy Award win on Monday for best original song (Man or Muppet, from The Muppets film) played out as a perfect counterfoil to the grand triumphs of Peter Jackson and his team in 2004.

McKenzie's self-effacing onstage style was perfectly in tune with the shtick he developed with Jemaine Clement in "New Zealand's fourth-best folk comedy duo" Flight of the Conchords.

Not for him the tearful and overwrought speech in which he thanked everyone from his lawyer to the man who cleans his pool. Instead, stooping towards the too-low microphone (his failure to adjust it was a nice piece of theatre) he said he had been "genuinely starstruck" when he met Kermit the Frog, but added that "he's just a normal frog".

His pronouncement that New Zealand was a country where you got to live your dreams won't have done this country's international image any harm, but the image most (and most deservedly) boosted is McKenzie's own. They say you've made it in Hollywood when people take your phone calls rather than having their secretary take a number; Bret will be put straight through from now on.


McKenzie and Emmy-nominated Clement (who together won a Grammy in 2007 for best comedy album) have been pursuing different careers of late, though they are talking about a "reunion tour" and a movie ("We just need a story"). That would delight their legions of fans here, who knew and loved them when they were only the seventh-best folk comedy duo.

But in any event, they have done us, and themselves, proud. The world takes itself far too seriously far too much and it is a better place for a bit of Conchords' deadpan.