Reviewer: Jo Beggs
From 2004 to 2007, Noel Fielding’s off-beat humour delighted fans of The Mighty Boosh. In the style of Reeve and Mortimer, but perhaps with an even big dose of the surreal, Fielding and co-writer Julian Barratt created a comedy TV show that pushed the boundaries, quickly achieving cult status. The show was, it has to be said, an acquired taste with its relentless silliness and shabby, home-made feel, but it made the make-up wearing, big-haired goth that was Fielding, a big star. Since then, it seems Fielding has hardly been off our screens, with an E4 show – Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy – and a long run on BBC2s music game show Never Mind The Buzzcocks.
Panel show appearances have proved Fielding to be a likeable, intelligent entertainer whose love of everything quirky hasn’t ever worn off. Now in his early forties, he’s strangely apologetic about his horsing around, but he still does it with a shambolic charm and infectious delight.
The theatrical personae and do-it-yourself nature of Fielding’s comedy both make the transition to the stage seem like an obvious move. Fielding bounds on to the stage in a whirl of coloured lights, wrapped in an extravagant sparkly black cloak and hat. Park glam rock, part pantomime baddie, he gets a laugh and an enormous cheer from the Salford audience from the moment he appears.
The show is a mixture of fairly straight stand-up, animated film, audience participation and insane character comedy, the second half turning into something of a grown up pantomime and starring a host of characters from Fielding’s previous TV outings. He’s joined by The Boosh’s Tom Meeton and Mike Fielding, and delights the audience himself in character as Sergeant Raymond Boombox, a New York cop and Fantasy Man, a kind of low-rent Don Quixote (complete with cardboard pantomime unicorn), both characters from Luxury Comedy. There’s a great animated film starring, among others, Plasticine Joey Ramone and a reverse Minotaur – a bull with the head of Greg Wallace from Masterchef. If you have to ask yourself why this is funny, then Fielding probably just isn’t for you. Fielding has a sharp imagination to match his ‘renaissance man’ interest in the world. among all the silliness he drops in jokes about everything from classic seventies rock and zoology to The Crystal Maze and Charles Bukowski.
The fantasy world is created rather successfully with an animated film, into which the live characters step in and out. A willing volunteer from the audience joins in the fun, dressed as a knight and here to save a kidnapped Fielding who, the story goes, has been hidden in a maze. Even the animation has a DIY quality, a sort of South Park meets Channel 4 i-dent affair.
The evening’s proceedings are overseen by The Moon, the wide-eyed character from The Mighty Boosh and his ‘dark side’, projected high above the stage. This, and the other characters taken from Fielding’s TV shows, are favourites with the audience who are in the know, but work equally well for those without any prior knowledge. Fielding is generous is assuming that not all his fans have followed him throughout his career and there’s a large contingent in the Lowry audience that would have still been watching CBBC when The Boosh first aired 11 years ago.
For fans this is a must see show, but even those with little knowledge of Fielding’s more off-beat work should find this an entertaining and joyful evening of comedy.
Reviewed on 10th December 2015