Flight of the Conchords: A New Cup

In the world of the Conchords, every decision has its consequences and every action carries its weight in impending disaster, so in the whole grand, daisy-chain scheme of things, it’s not only plausible but inevitable that the purchase of a nondescript tea cup for the princely sum of $2.79 would be what finally leads one of them to prostitution and both of them to jail.

To wit: driven by the desire to enjoy a hot cup of tea at the same time as his BFF, Bret goes on a hog wild spending spree and brings home a brand new mug, which is actually very likely used. By doing so, of course, he’s not only asserting his independence but demonstrating a brazen disregard for Jemaine’s cup roster, which has them splitting up their cup use in two-hour increments that end at around 3:00 in the morning, when they give the cup a rest. (And what no one’s asking in regards to that cup roster is how does it take one person two hours to drink a cup of tea? And maybe all that tea drinking is the reason they’re up until 3:00 A.M. anyway? Or how is it that Jemaine manages to play both father and mother in this relationship, and sometimes in the span of a single sentence, as with his final sigh of exasperation on the new cup purchase: “Okay, I just need a second to calm down.”)

The downward spiral part kicks in a month later, when Jemaine notices that their bank account is short to the tune of exactly $2.79. Only his remarkably accurate bookkeeping comes too late to save their checks to the phone, gas, and electric companies, all of which bounce at approximately the same time, leaving them in the dark without a fan. This forces Bret to pawn his guitar and spend all his earnings on handmade Superstraws (“for people who need to drink from far away”) that he will sell on the street to the tune of $1 apiece, which in no way makes up for the $2.50 he’s spending on parts and assembly for each. But it does give them the opportunity to play a gig with only Jemaine’s bass for accompaniment, leading a confused Murray into a glorious riff on Dad and Mum guitars and how only the deaf could possibly hear Bret’s mimed strumming. (My favorite bit here, though, was Murray having to double check his agenda to be sure that Bret is in fact supposed to have a guitar. Nobody does those tiny, wordless character moments like Rhys Darby.)

Meanwhile, Murray’s latest moneymaking scheme has led to him to invest the band’s emergency fund with a new friend from Nigeria, who contacted him via Internet letter. He’s outraged when Jemaine points out that it’s a scam: “Why would someone want to scam me, Jemaine? And on the Internet service, one of the trusted things of today’s society?” Why indeed. His review of the Conchords’ latest gig for the New Zealand Consulate newsletter isn’t much help either (bothered as he was by the presence of only “the Dad guitar, or ‘bass’ in muso terms”), leading him to award the band a whopping two stars out of 100.

This lopsided new musical arrangement baffles even Mel, although she’s not entirely put off by it: “Is that just something I’ll have to get used to?” And when she learns of their money troubles, she’s glad to lend a hand. Naturally, being Mel, she’d like some goods and services in return for payment rendered, or in this case a massage, which is delivered by Bret but mostly Jemaine, right in front of Doug, and consists mostly of Jemaine patting Mel on the arm while she moans in ecstasy. But it’s her comment that “I feel like I’ve hired a gigolo” that really sets the Conchords’ wheels of brilliance spinning.

And any conversation that starts out with this line—“Bret, you know how you told me you were good at sex?”—is obviously leading to brilliance, as Jemaine deduces, by the power of Richard Gere and Julia Roberts, that prostitution is a quick way of making money, as well as a nice and not degrading way to get paid to have sex with pretty women. Which then leads him to boast, in the lobby of a crummy Chinese restaurant, that “The ladies go crazy for my sugarlumps.”

Insert: “Sugarlumps,” featuring a special guest star rap from Dave.

Let me tell you:

I see you girls checking out my trunks.

I see you girls checking out the front of my trunks.

I see you girls looking at my junk,

Then checking out my rump,

Then back to my sugarlumps.

When I shake it, I shake it all up.

You probably think that my pants have the mumps.

It’s just my sugarlumps. bump-ba-bumps.

They look so good, that’s why I keep ‘em in the front.

All the ladies checking out my sugarlumps—

They drive the ladies crazy.

All these bitches checking out my britches,

Put ‘em in a trance when I wear track pants.

My dungarees make them hunger-ees,

They’re over the moon when I don pantaloons.

My sugarlumps are two of a kind,

Sweet and white and highly refined.

Honeys try all kinds of tomfoolery

To steal a feel of my family jewelry.

My cannonballs cause a kerfuffle.

The ladies, they hustle to ruffle my truffle.

If you party with the party prince,

You get two complimentary after-dinner mints.

We see you girls checking out our trunks.

We see you girls checking out the front of our trunks.

We see you girls looking at our junk,

Then checking out our rumps,

Then back to our sugarlumps.

Insert Dave’s rap:

Chillin’ at my store, doin’ my thing

When in walks a guy with his dick in a sling.

I’m like, “Holy shit, what happened to you?”

He said, “How much will you give me for the family jewels?”

I said, “Ten bucks.”

He said, “No way!”

“Ten bucks and a Frisbee!”

He said, “Okay!”

Then I took his sugarlumps and put ‘em up in a display,

I sold ‘em as hacky sacks later that day.

All the ladies, they want a taste of my sugarlumps,

Sweet sugarlumps, yeah.

All the ladies, they want a taste of my sugarlumps.

Sweet sugarlumps.

Back to the streets it is, and this time what’s being sold is a big ol’ slice of Conchord, along with a free sampling of nut loaf to try and seal the deal. Too bad nobody’s pimping does much good, leading Jemaine to tell Bret he’ll probably have to go all the way, to which Bret replies, “Just hugs until I get more confident.” Likewise Bret’s own selling skills fall short, as he explains to a confused woman that Jemaine is “a player, a night owl. 20-40-60. Okay, 10-30-50.” while Jemaine scratches himself across the street. So: no go.

In the meantime, their instrument count has officially plunged from one to none, as has their star rating in Murray’s latest newsletter review, titled “Flight of the No-chords”: “It was hard to tell if the band was a band or a mime troop. No stars.” Zero out of 100? That’s pretty rough. He then walks them though the 14-year timeline he’s devised to get their guitars back and informs them they’re now all out of gigs except for Bret’s sign job, which Bret points out isn’t a gig at all but his own real job, and therefore not deserving of a cut for Murray. Poor Murray, whose lucky Nigerian funds have as of yet failed to materialize. Still, he gazes fondly at his circa-1985 computer, dreaming of his own better future.

Then it’s back to the streets once more in search of whoring opportunities, as Jemaine tries via phone message to retroactively collect a fee for sexual maneuvers performed with a lady friend a full year earlier. (“Maybe about $40 a time,” he proposes. “That’s $3 off.”) He’s joined by Bret, who today is earning money by giving away free condoms while dressed as the human condom. But his luck really turns later, when landlord Eugene feeds him with all kinds of useful prostitution tips gleaned from a book called “How to Get It Done,” which pretty much boils down to “try airport hotels.”

Thus Jemaine is absent during the next band meeting, throwing Murray for a real loop and leading to a neat little exchange with Bret wherein they debate the specifics of Jemaine’s new gig and whether or not he’s a “male” prostitute, and which ends with Murray telling Bret that Jemaine “shouldn’t be out there selling himself to the street!” All of this of course going on right in front of Murray’s new Nigerian business partner, Nigel Soladu, who has indeed shown up to deliver Murray’s blessed ROI, as well as thanks for his trust and generosity. And let’s just hope Murray uses some of those funds to buy himself a new shirt, because pistachio does him no favors whatsoever.

Bret then runs off to try to save Jemaine, and is sent by Eugene in the general direction of an airport.

Insert: “You Don’t Have To Be a Prostitute,” featuring Eugene on the steel drums.

It’s a cold night beneath a streetlight,

There’s a man whose pants are too tight.

Oh no, his pants are too tight.

(My pants are too tight.)

He stands there, an empty stare,

Trying to make enough money for his cab fare home:

He’ll have to walk home tonight

(Don’t have enough for the ride.)

The streets are cruel, he tries to act cool,

He goes to work with only his one tool.

You can put away your tool, Jemaine.

You don’t have to be a prostitute.

No no no no no.

You can say no to being a man-ho,

A male gigolo.

You don’t have to be a prostitute.

No no no no no.

You can say no to being a night-look, a boy hook,

A rent boy bro-pro…

He can’t see his way out.

(I cannot see my way out.)

He can’t see his way out

(Male prostitution seems to be my only option.)

He can’t say his way out.

(I cannot see my way out.)

He can’t say his way out.

(No no no no no.)

He’s selling cheap thrills to pay expensive bills,

But check your resume you must have some other skills.

Do you have any other skills…like typing?

They see him wanting to please them,

Wanting to play them but they don’t even pay him.

Oh no, no, they don’t think he’s worth it at all.

Though they are no one, he tries to bring them home,

Maybe it’d be okay if he lived alone.

Ooh, you have a roommate, Jemaine, don’t bring them home.

You don’t have to be a prostitute.

No no no no no.

You can say no to being a man-ho,

A male gigolo.

You don’t have to be a prostitute.

No no no no no.

You can say no to being a night-look, a boy hook,

A rent boy bro-pro.

And then we get what we have all been waiting for, which is the sight of Jemaine lounging on a hotel bed in his “Midnight Cowboy” uniform while explaining his hooking rules to the woman he has somehow managed to entice: “One, no laughing, especially during. Okay? Puts me off. Two, if you go overtime, then I’m gonna have to charge you for the next twenty minutes.” Steep! And three, he likes the clients to shower first, which she leaves to do while he arranges what looks to be a Ziploc-wrapped sandwich on the pillow.

Naturally this is when Bret shows up, just in the nick of time yet neither wanted nor needed by Jemaine. Meaning Jemaine has grown pretty excited about his new line of work, and is busy trying to hustle his little buddy back out the door when the cops (called ahead of time by Bret) show up to arrest them both: Jemaine for prostituting his own nut loaf and Bret for admitting that he’s “just the guy that wears the big condom.”

Off to the clink it is, then, where Bret is instantly bored and Jemaine seems mostly satisfied to have been proven right: “I knew if you bought a cup, we’d end up in jail.” So say we all. Murray’s not so thrilled, though, when he shows up to bail them out, as he’s been forced to use all his earnings from the Nigel Soladu Fund. Although it does give him the chance to call them both “jailhouse turkeys” which, again, so say we all.

And cue the end credits, where we see the Conchords standing in the middle of their living room when the electricity finally comes back on, triggering all the lights and the aforementioned fan, which kicks off another sad chain of events that ends with Bret’s new cup—whose final tally equaled $2.79 and a whole world of trouble—falling to the floor and smashing into little tiny bits, right before his eyes.