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Rhys Darby Talks Improvising on ‘Night Court’: ‘I Do Anything for Comedy’

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[Warning: The following contains MAJOR spoilers for Night Court Season 2 Episode 12, “The Duke’s a Hazard.”]

Our Flag Means Death fans will happily reminded of Rhys Darby‘s Gentleman Pirate when watching his performance in the Tuesday, March 19, episode of Night Court, which aired at 8/7c on NBC. Darby is a natural fit in the multi-cam comedy as Gurgs’ (Lacretta) boyfriend, Alistair Tully, an English duke. Accompanying Darby’s duke in the episode is fellow comedy king Dave Foley from The Kids In the Hall as his valet, Duncan.

Alistair first appears in the episode stealing croissants from the court cafeteria, unaware that he has to pay for them. Royals don’t carry cash! Alistair continues to dote upon his American love throughout the episode, which has purely kismet timing with this royal plot. Who knew when they were writing the episode that their jokes about body doubles for English royals would align with the internet’s current craze of wondering about Kate Middleton’s whereabouts? A punching-up reference to Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry is also perfectly timed.

Darby has appeared in multi-cams before and loved returning to the medium for Night Court Season 2. Lacretta plays bailiff Donna Gurgs and her body double. The body double, as joked about in the episode, has been standing in for Gurgs while she and Alistair go on monthly romantic vacations. “It was a bit of work for her, and she pulled it off. She’s awesome,” Darby says of his new co-star.

The Flight of the Conchords alum loves being “part of this world” of network sitcoms. “I can see why it’s still around,” he says of the format. “I did forget a little bit about it, so I turned up and I started learning my lines and then the script changed every day,” Darby says with a giggle. “And then the best part about it is that you do get to do some prerecorded scenes as well.” This allowed him to flex his improvisational muscles.

Rhys Darby as Alistair, Lacretta as Gurgs in 'Night Court' Season 2 Episode 12

Nicole Weingart/NBC

The actor reveals that he improvised his stunt seen later in the episode, when Judge Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch) is trying to teach the duke how the “normal” half lives (they definitely don’t get “uppies!” from valets!). Darby goes through a New York City subway turnstile in the stunt. Well, he more so dives over it and crashes onto the platform walkway — but for love! (Our Flag Means Death fans, I know you’ll get that reference.)

Getting to do a couple of takes in front of a live studio audience made Darby want to up the ante with every delivery, but one moment in the episode’s final cut was actually a blooper.

“The subway scene, dropping of the coat and talking about the fact that that coat’s now gone, dead, burn it, I accidentally dropped the coat, so I just kept carrying on,” Darby reveals. “And I think I made the stunt slightly harder than it needed to be as well. But I do anything for comedy.”

Being so grossed out by the turnstile (it’s touched every crotch in New York City!) made Alistair creatively get around making physical contact. Darby took that to a hilarious extreme.

“Originally, I was supposed to just squeeze through it,” he says, “but I liked the idea of putting my leg right over it and making it more ridiculous.” Don’t worry, there was still a mat for him to land on even though this was improvised.

Now, Darby is eager to return, and the series certainly left that possibility open after Gurgs and Alistair work through their relationship issues. Darby wants to come back to work with Lacretta again, as well as Foley, but he’s also keen to get some scenes with John Larroquette‘s Dan Fielding. Larroquette tells TV Insider the feeling is mutual. “My only complaint about [Darby] being there was that he and I had no scenes together,” Larroquette says, praising the What We Do In the Shadows actor.

More than anything, Night Court reminded Darby why multi-cams should stick around. “There’s nothing like it,” he shares. “I’m glad that multi-cams are still a thing because when they’re done well, they really work.”

Comedies tend to work when Darby’s involved.

Night Court, Season 2 Finale, Tuesday, March 26, 8/7c, NBC

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