If you want proof that Flight of the Conchords are not only the current kings of character comedy but true genii, watch their new HBO sitcom. Don't be put off by the Guardian calling them the funnest thing ever, these guys are one of the only comedy teams to try out an idea on the radio then IMPROVE it for TV (for proof of how rare this is listen to the Mighty Boosh, Little Britian, every other radio to TV comedy transfer since Tony Hancock).
This mockumentary radio series established most of the themes of the TV series (innocents abroad, the manager, stalker fans, the Yoko experience, etc) and features most of the Conchords best songs. It's not as sharp as the TV show, and there are a lot less gags per episode but that Conchord magic is still there through out. New Zealand stand up Rhys Darby's performance as their manager is a joy to hear and worth the asking price alone. Crowded House front man Neil Finn features in every episode and he's a surprisingly effective straight man. Quite possibly the best in the whole wide room. Credit should also go to Rob Brydon for the brilliant dead pan delivery of his linking voice over, the man was clearly wearing his business socks during the recording.
So why only 4 stars?
....(with the noted acception of Mr Brydon) all of the british comedy actors are awful. Most of the series was apparently improvised. When the Kiwi comedians are in full flow it's hilarious. But the brits sound like public school kids making things up on the spot. Honestly, you will not believe how weak some of their lines are.
In an effort to be more constructive with my feed back I have thought for far to long about why this is and here is my conclusion: the brits didn't get what the show is about.
Most of the comedy comes from the gentle naivety of the Kiwi characters. When ever they speak the Conchords sound innocent, restrained and a little shy whilst their songs give them permission to express themselves (however inappropriately).
The brits clearly didn't get it and just overact.
So bascially the TV show is better because Jimmy Carr isn't in it. Unless you are a die hard Conchords fan, buy that instead. But if you absolutely must have an audio Conchords fix there is plenty here to recommend.