Guest post by ZiZi
At strategic spots across North America, the star of British TV shows The Mighty Boosh (2003-2007) and Luxury Comedy (2012-2014) is touring a live standup and sketch show based heavily on the TV characters, joined by his brother and co-stars Michael Fielding and Rich Fulcher.
If you are already a Fielding Fan, the shows are enjoyable–their spirit is like the public personality of Fielding, laid-back and “zany.” Lovers of the surreal and child-like (a la Pee Wee Herman) will find a home away from home; seekers of comedy punch-lines and insight (a la Chris Rock) will be less catered to.
Fantasy Man (a Don Quixote-like deluded Gentleman who wears a plastic cup on his chin) was there, along with the Moon (in a pre-recorded projection that Noel interacted with live), and Raymond Boombox, the NYC cop (sans talking wound). Dondylion, an anxious and talkative lion in a zoo, was left in the UK, along with Tony Reason, a smooth-talking stingray, and a host of other characters. Not seeing a favorite character may add a note of pathos, but for fans of the TV shows (accessible outside the UK thanks to youtube and Noel fans reliably posting episodes), this gig was like stepping into your TV.
The mood of the night was friendly and warm, with a constant stream of good-natured laughter at the self-professed “man with an easy charm.” I found myself doing what I dread in others, that stable laughter that’s not really laughter at a funny joke, but a trying to be nice and obliging, going-with-the-rhythm laugh. Sort of a gurgle of happiness at being there.
The show was oddly, but somehow charmingly, lop-sided. An hour and a half before intermission (!), mostly of Noel telling surreal and slightly pointless stories (he dreamt he was a tea bag…), then a quick 35 minute wrap-up with audience interaction. This included an extended animation and video sequence with play-doh Joey Ramone and other characters which gave the show a mild plot-like arc.
If you like or are open to reverting to childhood, this show will reward. Noel acts 100% a children’s show host, even opening an outsized story book and reading from it while sitting on a low chair. There is a subtle dark side, including an unusual string of pedophile jokes, one of which references Jimmy Saville, a UK children’s performer posthumously revealed to be a prolific child sex abuser. These are very unstressed, with a quick patter delivery, and fit in with a bawdiness the show also has (fake large penises, fake breasts, mooning the audience).
Fielding proves a nice, charismatic caretaker of souls, and Fulcher and brother Michael add charm and ballast. I hope he returns, but with a tighter set if he wants to reach a wider audience.