[This is a copy of an article written for Aphra Magazine, and published on April 29, 2015. Aphra Magazine unfortunately closed at the end of 2016, and all links to existing articles were deleted, so I have decided to reproduce these articles word for word on my blog.]
‘An Evening with Noel Fielding’
Noel Fielding is best known for being one of the comedic geniuses, along with Julian Barratt, behind the surrealist and fantastical comedy show The Mighty Boosh, comprising three seasons and two live shows. In 2012, Noel directed and wrote a new comedy series called Luxury Comedy, with its second season premiering in 2014. He is also one of the team captains on the comedy panel show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I only recently became a Boosh fan, frightened away from the show initially after being shown a scene featuring one of Noel’s more outlandish characters, Old Gregg, without any context whatsoever. (If you are reading this having never seen the show, please for the love of God do not begin with Old Gregg if you value your sanity). Despite that shaky start, I quickly grew to love Noel’s childlike charm, his talent for developing strange and wonderful characters, and of course his fashion sense.
An Evening with Noel Fielding spends the first thirty minutes pretending to be a regular stand-up show, even considering Noel’s entrance in a spectacular golden cape, but swiftly transforms into a celebration of his trademark whimsicality. From jokes about spiders driving taxis and Australians discovering umbrellas during the Sydney super storm, he introduces cheating triangles, dramatic tales of teabags, and a strangely sexual song about milk with such fervent enthusiasm that you can’t help but be swept up by his stories. How terrible that his wife cheated on him with a triangle, I thought, before remembering that Noel doesn’t have a wife, and that triangles, as far as I know, aren’t sentient or capable of entering into romantic relationships. His brother Mike Fielding, and friend and fellow comedian Tom Meeten, play various characters in the show, including Noel’s wife and Antonio Banderas. The Moon, a beloved character from the Boosh series played by Noel with his face covered in shaving foam, makes an appearance, as does his alter ego, the Dark Side of the Moon.
The second act takes an interesting twist when Noel is kidnapped from his own show and taken into the Plasticine world, brought to life by animation on a huge screen on stage with a red and blue door at one end, where characters can enter and leave. Through the intervention of Luxury characters such as Sergeant Raymond Boombox, who prowled the audience with a video camera accusing people of crimes against fashion in what was perhaps the funniest part of the show, Fantasy Man, a modern day Don Quixote forever off on dramatic quests into the Fantasy Zone, both played by Noel, and Fantasy Man’s sidekick Big Chief, played by Meeten, eventually Noel was restored to his rightful place on stage. The quest required the help of a volunteer audience member called Steve, who eventually came forward to save a critic Noel and Tom had spotted in the audience, and were attacking in an attempt to read her review. ‘I don’t actually care what you write’, Noel told the woman comfortingly as she tried to escape, ‘I live in England.’ What made this second act even better was that the chosen Steve was mostly drunk when he came to the stage, and spent his time complaining that his VB beer can prop wasn’t real alcohol, and nearly missed his heroic moment in the Plasticine world by stumbling around on stage while his animation self was already on screen.
This show wouldn’t have worked half as well without Noel’s constant self-awareness of the ridiculousness that was the entire production. ‘I’m forty one,’ he reminded us as the weirdness grew more intense, and at one point he laughed at the stunned reaction of one of the people in the first row: ‘This guy thinks he’s on LSD. It’s like a horse watching a card trick.’ His style of comedy obviously isn’t for everyone – I’ve shown Boosh episodes to friends and family and received mixed reactions, and his shows, particularly the psychedelic Luxury Comedy, take some getting used to – but in a world where comedians are becoming ever more cynical and controversial, it’s nice to go to a comedy show that is pure escapism, stealing you away from the humdrum of reality and dropping you directly into the Fantasy Zone.
‘An Evening with Noel Fielding’ has four shows left in Sydney and Melbourne, finishing on the 4th of May. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.