Monday, May 11/Tuesday, May 12
Noel Fielding found fame with The Mighty Boosh, also Never Mind The Buzzcocks. He’s a cult hero, on panel shows and occasionally doing stand-up, he’s got a rock-star demeanour (minus the attitude). He’s somehow genuinely endearing and with this surrealist thread that allows him to stitch bonkers-moments into straight-ahead comedy. You never for a second question his intelligence – even if you wonder sometimes where the routines are going. It isn’t always about the destination, most often it’s about the journey.
So here, pushed back from its earlier scheduled date, and timed now to fit with the Comedy Festival was An Evening With Noel Fielding. It was a little bit Boosh, a lot bonkers and a huge amount of fun.
The best bits – which surprised me – were the stand-up routines. Blessed with timing, technique and this colourful, ever so slightly magical appeal, Fielding could nearly dazzle – even with the fairly straight-ahead material. But he’s sharp. Quick enough to improvise and silly enough to allow jokes to fall flat, to stop dead, to meander. It somehow always seemed to work. Even when it definitely, defiantly was not working.
As the show moved on – growing ever more shambolic – we were introduced to a cast of characters, some projections, some real-life players, some cartoons or daft costumes, the Minotaur and reverse-Minotaur, the moon – with its dark side too.
And though Boosh fans and the majority of the audience lapped this up – the reality, by this point, was that Fielding could have dumped a shit on stage and people (including plenty in costumes – as if this was a Rocky Horror film screening or something) would have taken it; loved it even.
You knew Noel knew this too…
And came close once or twice.
But there’s still something about the way he carries it off. Endearing, enchanting, often mesmerising – it could all topple over at any moment. But it’s the way he dives headlong into that, allows things to teeter just so – that makes it. And makes it work. Even if it was a slight patience-test from time to time.
You couldn’t ever repeat the jokes, or attempt to impersonate his daft and peculiar stories. Nor could you ever predict that it would – in its own weird and usually wonderful way – make some sort of sense, would be tied up in a conceptual package, bonkers bow and all.