The Jelly Fox – Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy E4 LogoLike Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger recreating The Jungle Book. Or a William Blake inspired party-time.

Noel Fielding's Luxury ComedySo describes the associated web-page for Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy from production company Secret Peter showing on E4, the new comedy from one half of The Mighty Boosh, the eponymous Noel Fielding, but though the other Boosher, Julian Barratt, is absent the spirit of Boosh is still very much at play.

Not just its spirit though but also some of the Boosh actors. Michael Fielding (is he more than a name-sake to Noel I wonder?!) who played Naboo turns up here as Noel’s anteater butler – yes you read that right! And Rich Fulcher who played Bob Fossil turns up as William Jessop celebrating his one hundredth birthday and being visited by the ghost of a flea. This may start to give you a feel for what this Luxury Comedy is about – or not.

We are warned that it contains adult humour – in the UK that means only suitable for those over 18 – if you are 17 and British sorry but then this is not for you! Though this show may well not be for you however old you might be – more of that later. It may just as well have warned us that it contains childish humour and that if you are serious-minded-adult-type to watch at your peril.  For Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy is for the child in all of us, if, that is, your inner child was expelled from Kindergarten…

Incidentally to establish that you are indeed eighteen and beyond, Channel 4 make the serious demand of you that you click in a box on their online player confirming such and you are then cheerily beckoned in, not a bleary burly bludgeoning bouncer in sight. Anyone seventeen and younger will naturally be deterred by this. Okay that’s enough sarcasm.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - The Jelly Fox cast

The cast awaits you

The Luxury Comedy starts in musical fashion with the entire cast however significant however insignificant welcoming us to them and their show.

This second episode, The Jelly Fox, then cuts to Noel Fielding in black leather jumpsuit and Aladdin Sane style face-paint dancing around to a nineteen sixties rock song (I could have just said ‘the 60’s’ couldn’t I as I doubt most of you are familiar with the rock music of the 1860’s).

The rock music so alluded is from 1960’s psychedelic group Lysergic Casserole who recorded just one album which ‘no-one has ever heard of’ and described by Noel Fielding as ‘the best band ever’ but then explaining that

they disappeared having took so much LSD they got trapped in their own guitar case

And the episode proceeds from there. There is no linear way to refer to this episode as it is beyond transcription if not description. You will either get tuned in to its own particular madness or look upon it aghast and askance before tuning out toward the lesser insanity of the BBC News at 10 or James May’s Things You Need to Know – James May is very likely in fact Noel Fielding’s TV Uncle – I do not know if that is helpful or pretentious of me – or both.

We see Lysergic Casserole’s guitar-case-trip as they experience Orson Welles having a romantic dinner with a cheese-cake, and then Welles pulling a skipping rope out of his…well I will let you use your own imagination here!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy Lysergic Casserole

Lysergic Casserole – the amount of times I have spelt this wrong over the years

Their music like all the music in the show is provided by Sergio Pizzorno of British rock group Kasabian – I was sceptical when I first heard of this collaboration not thinking Kasabian’s rather masculine swaggering feet-firmly-on-the-ground music would best serve Noel Fielding’s head-in-the-clouds whimsy – Mercury Rev or Polyphonic Spree would have been more fitting I felt – but Pizzorno’s music sits very comfortably with Fielding’s madcap visions.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Diamond Back

Diamond Back

Later Noel Fielding decides to rescue Lysergic Casserole from their Guitar Case bound fate by erecting a ramp made of Ryvita! – it is not just their freedom he has in mind though, he considers that they might make a second album and he could be their manager! But his snouty nosed butler reminds him that the sixties was a half-a-century ago and like Austin Powers their respective mojo’s might not adapt to the transport to the present day…alas they and their Harley’s trajectory is toward the guitar-case of the rock-star they call Diamond Back – Diamond Back having risen from the swamps of Putney, his father a pet-shop junkie and his mother, well she had a hundred eyes. Clear? I hope not.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy has comedy and music, that at least is established. It also has art. Much of the art is provided by Fielding but not all of it. Animation is provided by the show’s director Nigel Coan. Coan is another Boosh connection having provided its animation too.The Luxury Comedy sets are art and there is one scene where Noel Fielding himself is producing art. The most striking and impressing aspect of the program is its look – its visual swagger.

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Keep off the Chest

Artist at work – can you see what it is yet?

And as noted in one scene we see Fielding painting on canvas – we can assume this was done in real-time and condensed into TV-time – Rolf Harris used to do this kind of thing, well not quite this kind of thing!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - press-ups

The finished work

If this show is going to work for you you have to take it on its own terms. Concepts like narrative development and dramatic conventions are only going to get in your way. You have to go with its flow, let it get into your blood and nerves, let Noel Fielding get inside your head. If you are not prepared to do that then the Singing Detective and Celebrity Juice are also scheduled alongside it – their own particular brands of madness may be more accommodating of yours. Though these allusions to other channels imply a world before time-shifted TV of  +1 channels and endless repeats, of online players and PVR’s, and as if the most of you would be watching it during its first E4 Broadcast Thursday evening’s at 10 o’clock!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy with Andy Warhol

With his cleaner

I alluded to the Boosh lineage but not all of them are from that particular ancestral tree. For example Noel Fielding’s cleaner Andy Warhol. Yes that Andy Warhol. Well is there another Andy Warhol?! He is played by Tom Meeten. In this episode he is planning a vacation with Picasso and Keith Haring and has organised a cleaner replacement going by the name of Frida Kahlo! His suitcase was given to him by Jackson Pollack and his rucksack is borrowed from René  Magritte – not at all art for art’s sake this! – Fielding comments about the Magritte rucksack ‘Yeah it’s a nice design but probably gets a bit annoying’!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy René Magritte Rucksack

René Magritte Rucksack

Though this episode is called The Jelly Fox it is only in the second part of the show that mention is made of him! We see Little Chrissie and Spoon Snake and their crew on their way to meet The Jelly Fox. And who or what is the Jelly Fox? Well

he gives you what you need. He lives in a blue-fabric castle with creases in it. He will give you a tablet that dissolves in wine. To wipe away your past…

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy with Dolly

Dolly and the Warhol-cum-Kahlo Cleaner

We then cut back to Noel Fielding and another new (ir)regular character Dolly. Dolly is played by Doll Wells. Dolly has given him a face-painting of David Bowie. Except that she has painted a Tiger. We then see cleaner Frida Kahlo except that it is Andy Warhol wearing a dress. He wants to wear a dress in public but is uncomfortable in doing so, so passes himself off as Mexican surrealist painter Frida Kahlo! – the usual cowardly recourse of the man in denial of their transvestism! Dolly advises him that he should not be ashamed of this. She then advises that she dresses up as a Fireman and a Baby and calls herself a Firebaby! Noel then wants to know whether she dresses with a fireman top-half and nappy or romper suit and a helmet. She explains the latter, obviously! He considers it a joke, she a serious concept. They then argue over this point. Getting nowhere they decide to consult Hawkeye – the complex technology that resolves the flight of balls in Tennis and Cricket not Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce of M*A*S*H* fame!

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - Hawkeye

Hawkeye declares

If only all dilemmas could be resolved this way! Hawkeye decides it is a Concept, and that is an end to it!

It is only at the show’s end that we actually encounter the Jelly Fox – the term plot-spoiler has no impact on a show like this but I won’t reveal it all the same.

If you should be watching this on the 4OD online player you may note a ‘More Like This’ option – but other than its previous episode there is almost certainly nothing more like this on E4 or any other TV channel currently….and I am thankful for this.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy happily revels in its own wild imaginings. I am happy to revel along in it too – and I don’t have to take anything to do so. The whole psyche-shifting experience is all perfectly legal!Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy - The Jelly Fox

The Boosh Tale of Hitcher – and other juicy danglings

Hitcher iPlayerCome with me now on a journey through time and space to the world of The Mighty Boosh

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding is to be appearing on ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show Saturday January 21st. They will no doubt be chatting about his new comedy show starting on E4 Thursday January 26 Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy which in the words of the E4 website is a:

Psychedelic character-based comedy show half filmed and half animated, with music provided by Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno.

Noel Fielding was just one half of The Boosh though, the Vince half, the other half, the Howard half, was played by Julian Barratt and he is absent from this new venture.

This post though is not to pointlessly speculate about this new Luxury Comedy venture rather as per the opening line to journey back in space and time to when the Mighty Boosh was just The Boosh and available only in sound and vivid imagination, its TV dance not yet begun.

Radio was an ideal medium for them as Fielding and Barratt’s combined visual imaginations were too big for TV budgets.

Inevitably as alluded this did not stop them venturing into TV or rather TV come wooing them.

Theirs is a drugged imagination where drugs may not actually be involved. Their British comedy cousins are Eddie Izzard, Bob Mortimer and Vic Reeves and they can trace their comedy ancestry through Monty Python and Spike Milligan all the way back to Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear.

Their night dreams weave in and out of their waking hours, their shadowy imaginings step into the light.

The Mighty Boosh ImageThe episode subject of this post is Hitcher first broadcast back in November 2001 and rebroadcast this month on BBC Radio 4 Extra. The BBC’s iPlayer does not just reprise recent Telly but Radio too and this is how this episode came to my ears. This is the outlands of radio – about ten people listen to Radio Four at any one time, Radio 4 Extra is for those who consider even Radio 4 just too mainstream.

This episode is preambled in just one sentence on the BBC iPlayer page has ‘Howard and Vince takes Tony the Prawn to a zoo for animal offenders’. A description which on one hand does not tell you very much whilst at the same time telling you everything.

The Boosh are difficult to transcribe as their words are better heard than read. With this in mind I will venture vainly forth on just that endeavour.

It starts with Howard and Vince in the midst of their zoo-keeping duties, which translates as Howard’s head buried in a book and being insistently interrupted by Vince – think a child in the car, their constant drip drip to front-seat parents of ‘are we there yet?’ – for example

Howard, you know the black bits in bananas, are they Tarantula’s eggs?!

Howard is reading about ancient Greece – ‘why do you read that old-school rubbish?’ asks Vince! Vince does not have time for reading but has read Charlie Goes Abroad. And Charlie Takes Time Off. ‘Is that part of a Charlie Adventure series?’ Howard asks. ‘Yes’ replies Vince ‘There are hundreds of them – ‘Charlie Buys a Flamingo’, Charlie goes to the shops and realizes he has lost his little purse’ and on! Before Howard wishing an end to Charlie’s adventures suggests ‘Charlie Chokes on His Own Legs’! Howard then explaining that he is only interested in real people like Aeschylus and Pythagoras, people who ‘solved stuff’ – ‘Charlie solved stuff’ counters Vince

Charlie Solved The Riddle. The Riddle of His Own Existence!

One pleasure and relief in listening to this radio broadcast is there is no canned laughter – there is no studio audience laughter either. There is no studio audience. Their budget was just too shoe-string back then. There is laughter though. Between the two of them as they struggle to keep a straight face in response to the increasingly absurd statements each counters the other with. It reminded me of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore except with them there was just one jester Peter Cook with Dudley the corpsing victim, whereas with Vince and Howard both are as much jester as jested.

The Boosh Bob Fossil

Bob Fossil

They are then visited my the manager of Zooniverse and the Zookeeper’s right hand man Bob Fossil who advises them they need to move Tony the Prawn who is a psychological killer to his brother’s zoo – zoo-keeping runs in the family! – the zoo for animal offenders – current inmates include a rapist crab, a mackerel that exposes himself – you do not want to see that from any living creature but especially not a mackerel – a baboon that walks into lifts and presses all the floors, a swan that keys cars…

They need to have Tony the Prawn delivered by four that afternoon. It is in their Jeep on their way that they will first encounter the Hitchhiker, or Hitcher.

Before that pick up though there is an argument about what music to listen to on the radio-tape player – Vince has made a Gary Numan mix-tape but Howard wants to listen to his jazz tape. Not just any old jazz but John Coltrane. He wants Vince to listen out for a particular moment of Sun Ra’s Jet Flight – ‘it’s coming up, ready?’ – except it is always just coming up, never quite getting there. Which is also kind of the point of it too. As Howard muses Jazz cannot be tamed or described ‘Jazz is. Jazz was. Jazz be’!

Full disclosure – I was not familiar with this Sun Ra and John Coltrane collaboration from The Futuristic Sounds of Sun Ra – rather technology in the form of Shazam told me.

Howard is driving and Vince must keep him awake. ‘Have you ever fallen asleep at the wheel’ Vince asks Howard. ‘No’ says Howard ‘But I have woken up at the wheel’ – Bum bum!

To keep him awake Vince tells Howard stories about how we was brought up in the Jungles of India by Bryan Ferry. He explains how they had to be careful in the jungle when falling a sleep that the monkey’s did not steal their faces. And that he himself one time did fall asleep. And then the story ends abruptly. Howard wants to know what happened next but Vince says that will be for another time. ‘Who are you’ cries Howard ‘dealing out stories in chunks’! Going on to exclaim that ‘You cannot juice me up and then leave me dangling – don’t be a juicy dangler!’ This leads to an argument and Howard asking Vince to leave the car.

The scene temporarily cuts away to Bob Fossil delivering a zookeeper themed stand up comedy routine but which is dying with the crowd – ‘even the hyenas have stopped laughing’ goes one heckle to which he responds

I don’t have any witty verbal comebacks but I do have this herd of Wildebeest over here and a starter pistol. What I call a stampede comeback!

The Boosh - Hitcher by Noel Fielding

The Hitcher

Back to Howard at the wheel and having just picked up the Hitcher. The Hitcher is carrying a box but as Howard tries to strike up conversation with him he remains silent save slow heavy breathing. ‘Let’s listen to the radio’ Howard declares. Cue The Doors Riders on the Storm and Jim Morrison intoning ‘there’s a killer on the road’ then cue Howard quickly switching off said radio and stating there is ‘too much music in the world’!

The Hitcher does eventually speak though – in a vaguely threatening Cockney cadence! – and regales Howard with tales of his working past as a stage performer. This though really does need to be heard – words on a page cannot do this extravagant  monologue justice.

Then Howard’s curiosity about the Hitcher’s box can no longer be contained but on asking about the box he suddenly finds himself in the box!

Later in the box he encounters Vince – for Vince too had met the same fate at the hands of the Hitcher. Eventually they meet the People of the Box. The People of the Box have been trapped in the box for many centuries. They then inform Howard and Vince that it was written that they would come. And save them. And be their king!

Howard is flattered. He knew there was an important purpose to his life. And being a king for the box people must be it. But it turns out they were addressing themselves to Vince!

Vince though does not want this role. It is the way is not it that those who want to be the leader of the box people are fated not to have that role and those that are so fated do not want it.

And sorry readers but I now myself must be a juicy dangler – always assuming I have your juices up! – and leave this tale here. For it concludes in numerous songs that I could not possibly transcribe or do justice to even if I could. The summary should you decide to seek it out is not entirely satisfactory either.

But if you are under the spell of the Boosh then you will realize that the place of arrival like the place of departure is neither here nor there – the journey is all.