Monday, 9 July 2012

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Embrace the New Silly

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy is a television show in constant danger of prancing right off a cliff into complete self-indulgence - but through some odd mixture of absurdity, ramshackle wit and charisma star Fielding keeps the whole project ticking along with aplomb. Building on the popularity of The Mighty Boosh, which introduced audiences to surrealist comedy lined with muso references (the patented Bryan Ferry impersonation makes another appearance in this new show), Fielding jumped ship from the BBC to Channel 4 and produced a work which is startlingly different to his collaboration with Julian Barratt.

For example, while Boosh between seasons changed locations from a corrupt zoo to a lurid, neon Camden, at least it had narratives anchored in a specific time and place. Luxury Comedy opens with a heavily made-up Fielding holding court in an unstable tree house with a surly manservant Smooth (his ever-present sibling Michael), a robotic Andy Warhol (Tom Meeten) and a lazy conceptual artist from Berlin played by Dolly Wells, who was unforgettable as a vulgar Nicole Kidman in Star Stories. In between brief interactions with these characters, a series of unrelated but recurring sketches appear, featuring increasingly bizarre figments of Fielding's imagination. It's demented, maddening, extremely silly - and surprisingly fun.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy Dolly Andy Warhol Smooth

The dvd includes a behind the scenes documentary where Fielding describes the show as an attempt to bring back Spike Milligan-style slapstick. Luxury Comedy clearly sets out to reference a number of British pop culture staples, such as The Goodies, Monty Python, not to mention the characters all appearing in a group shot similar to the cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band during the credits. To describe the show as simply a list of references does Fielding a disservice though. Many aspects are familiar from late seventies, early eighties children's entertainment, such as the plasticine figurines in the Joey Ramone sketches, or the Panini football stickers that hang from Dolly's reindeer antlers (just...just go with it).

My personal favourite though is the Fantasy Man segment, with its TRON matte-line background contrasted with the demented ravings of a man wearing skin-tight gold pants, paper eye-brows and a Styrofoam cup in place of a strong chin. It's the most telling of the Fielding creations presented, a man who can transport himself with colourful and imaginative worlds, only to come crashing down again to Earth. 

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy Ashes to Ashes tribute

This is a theme that runs throughout the show, when childlike imaginings are contrasted with a horrible adult world. For example the bright yellow-skinned Sergeant Raymond Boombox has a tendency to sign off by warning viewers that "there's a lot of rapists out there"; or there's Dondylion, the sweetly optimistic lion living in a zoo who inevitably breaks down crying at the thought of never escaping (wild animals are something of a recurring trope of Fielding's - I direct you to the music video for Midfielding). Schoolyard sexuality of kids fascinated with breasts is mocked by Daddy Push fashioning a pair using origami - which is oddly one of the funniest moments in the show.

The show seems to be about how something went a bit wrong between when we were young and now. Fielding's creations are not throwbacks as such, but seem more like colourful ideas half-remembered, that do not translate entirely well to adulthood - though he's going to make a decent stab at it.

That or this is all nonsense, but entertaining and very funny nonsense all the same.

Available on DVD in Australia from 22 August. 


  1. This show is mental.

  2. Mentally Wonderful!

  3. noel is super sexy, and is a comic genius.

  4. Ugh! I've been trying to figure out how to order this over here in the states. Been having a rough time of it! Must own this awesome show!!! Everything is so high tech these days! One would hope you could walk into a Barnes and Noble with money in your pocket and say: take me to your cult comedy dice. The kid didn't know what the hell i was talking about. Maybe I'm a I also must order and buy the soundtrack....The loose Tapestries, if you will. It was hard enough finding all the Boosh stuff, which I love dearly. What's a poor Yankie Lass to do?!!

  5. I feel your pain. In Australia I have to shell out something close to fifty bucks if I want to indulge in a dvd of Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

    Also Freaks and Geeks is not available outside of the States.

    This angers me.

  6. ^Maybe we should plan a trade;)I wan't to support Noel as an artist, $ wise, but beyond buying it hard copy....I'm not interested. Maybe I'm old fashioned(at 29?!)I'm not convinced that this FB/Twitter culture, makes any of us as close as we all think we are. Also. MST is more here than that!! Idk....i thought it was worth it....though, because of high price I only have season 1 :/ Happy hunting down there!


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