Sunday, February 5, 2012

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy

Have you ever heard someone say "My shins are made of doo-wop music", "They basically took so much LSD they got trapped inside their guitar case", "Look! There's Orson Welles! He's having a romantic dinner with a cheesecake."? Or have you ever even heard anyone ask for "folk music" on their sandwich? It's lines like these that solidified my choice for this blog post. My choice of creative mind/product for this post is none other than Noel Fielding and his series Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy.

Noel Fielding is a British comedian best known for his work in a comedy series called "The Mighty Boosh". His new series, which just recently premiered on the BBC, is called Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy. While the art direction of The Mighty Boosh was heavily influenced by Noel (the show as a whole being a collaborative work of Noel and friend/fellow comedian Julian Barratt), his Luxury comedy series encompasses everything he has built up over his entire life. His art is focal in Luxury Comedy and the show is entirely his creation. He writes, directs, and acts in Luxury Comedy. He constantly stretches the limits of his imagination and ability to create on the spot. The majority of the dialogue in Luxury Comedy, as was done in The Mighty Boosh throughout its three series run, is improvised with only a start and end point. His career in the entertainment industry is fueled by his ability to consistently bring something new and fresh to audiences. Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy is set, quite literally, in a world that is totally his own. The animation is done with the help of his friend Nigel, who also worked with him on the Boosh animations, but every drawing is Noel's own drawing and sketch. The same concept applies to the characters, as Noel shows great versatility, as he did before in the Boosh, in acting out the majority of the characters in this show, even in the animations. 


I realized that Noel Fielding's "comedy" and "art", words which one could easily interchange to describe the product Noel creates, are direct results of years of collecting. John Travolta eating crisps in a blue felt castle window in Luxury Comedy. Noel talking about Gary Numan and his pilot's licence in The Mighty Boosh. Noel's own father playing Chris de Burgh in a number of Mighty Boosh episodes. These are all results of Noel using things he knows and remembers in a way that few other comedians do; he makes them characters in his show, and even if he wants to make fun of them, he does not do so with outward, typical insults or attacks as other comedians might. He molds them as he chooses and provides a new experience of a specific person for the audience. This is definitely evident as Noel uses Andy Warhol as his house cleaning robot, who cross-dresses as Frida Kahlo at one point, in Luxury Comedy. His trade relies almost totally on his collection of objects, people, memories, etc, from the past. His influences range from well known and obscure celebrities, such as Salvador Dali, to the smallest of things; normal everyday words and things are merely pieces which Noel rearranges and places in a jargon entirely his own, unheard before (as referenced at the beginning of this post). It seems as though he spurts nonsense, but this is how Noel's thought processes actually proceed. His creativity is embedded in his entire being.

When others talk about Noel Fielding, they seem to either adore him and his work, which can been seen in his approval for a second series of Luxury Comedy already by the BBC, or they find him fickle and simple, unworthy of any critical notation, and too crazy to understand in any way. This year though he is nominated by NME for the "Hero of the Year" award for his artwork, book, and new series, so one gets the idea that he is more on the successful side of things at present. The same can be said for reviews of his artwork in general. With the release of his (art) book, "The Scribblings of a Madcap Shambleton", audiences can read direct accounts from Noel about his past, his art, and his influences. During his book tour to promote Scribblings, he travelled with friend and colleague Dave Brown to various locations and painted on the glass windows of shops selling his book. His art is very publicly recognizable by those who have seen the Boosh, and many Boosh fans have spilled over into the fanbase of Luxury Comedy, hungry for more of Noel's art and wild world of vibrant color and abstraction mixed with surrealism. One of the most interesting things about Noel and Luxury Comedy is how he has been able, through this show, to successfully create a surrealist art based show fit (or unfit even) for a run in a BBC4 primetime slot. When one thinks British comedy, one usually runs to Monty Python or Little Britain, but this new era containing vast amounts of surrealism-comedy fusion, thanks to Noel, shows that a different approach to a typically dry comedy vein can be successful. Luxury Comedy has little plot, if any at all, and its skits rush into one another, leaving no room for thought or processing of events. Much like surrealist art, one never truly knows what to expect. One of the better examples of how Noel mixes comedy and his art is in the skit in which he actually paints on the set, wearing the jumpsuit he wore on his book tour, while Dave Brown (aka Bollo from The Mighty Boosh, which I forgot to mention earlier), dances next to him in a small fenced in area. This mix of Noel's passions is at the core of his career and drive. He is creative/His show is creative because he has been able to meld his art passion and his comedy career into one super product, while not losing any of his unique Noel Fielding spirit along the way. He has found a new way for art and comedy to reach an audience, one mainly made up of those under 30, and inspire them to continue doing what they love.

The lines of comedy and art are forever blurred for Noel. As he and Dolly fight over in Luxury Comedy, "Is it a joke or a concept?" The answer is really up to the audience. 


For anyone further interested in Noel Fielding's comedy and art, I've included links to Luxury Comedy and The Mighty Boosh below! Enjoy!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy:    Episode 1    Episode 2 

1 comment:

  1. While I haven't seen much of either show mentioned here, I have seen a lot of Noel Fielding on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I had heard a lot about him around the internet prior to ever seeing him on the show, and I wasn't quite sure what to expect from him, but the instant I saw him I loved his style. He makes such a contrast to a lot of other comedians, especially ones we see in the U.S. Many comics look like average people but act loud and over-the-top; Noel, on the other hand, dresses like some exotic creature but his mannerisms and voice are all very subdued. Watching him on Buzzcocks, I often had to back up and rewatch his jokes over. I admit this was sometimes because of the accent, but more often it was because his jokes catch viewers off guard. They require so much more thought and processing than a lot of popular comedy, and often come in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it sort of way. His creativity lies not only in what he presents but how he presents it, and that's one of the things I love about him. He's unpopular with a lot of people because he doesn't produce comedy for the masses. Rather he makes people really stop and think and actually enjoy themselves.


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