An Evening With Noel Fielding – review

"There’s plenty that Noel Fielding seems to brazenly gets away with – but his repartee with audience members is priceless"

Were consuming hallucinogenics a somehow guaranteed fully risk-free, fuzzy-happy excursion from reality – recommended for kids, even, in kind of the same way as a shot of whisky in milk was once deemed an acceptable cold remedy for youngsters – it’d be a little like this solo show by Noel Fielding.

Or “Old fantasy boots,” as he describes himself, during an establishing straight stand-up section at the start, where comedy’s glam Peter Pan struts around the stage in Cuban heels, tousling his hair, grumbling about the troubles of being a man-child the wrong side of 40, all the while wearing a pair of spray-on tight jeans few men over 40 would dare try and pour themselves into.

When the trip begins proper, it’s typically Fielding-esque cheerful farce, featuring one familiar face from The Mighty Boosh (the Moon) and several familiar faces from his E4 sketch show Luxury Comedy.

More Mighty Boosh, less Luxury Comedy would, in short, probably have been more satisfying across the piece

A whodunit of sorts unfolds, as Fielding is ostensibly kidnapped, with the suspects ranging from a triangular man who has been having an affair with Fielding’s fictional wife (played by his regular sideman Michael Fielding, his brother), to his understudy in Zorro costume Antonio Banderas (played by Tom Meeten) to the Moon’s nasty nemesis the Dark Side of the Moon (you can probably see the looming Pink Floyd joke from space).

The laughs come on with inconsistent force. For every bent-double howl at Fielding’s chicken man tip or the bit when he spontaneously chases a woman on her way to the loo down the aisle only for her to turn round and give him a hug, there’s a spell of ditzy tedium (perhaps a full half-hour could be trimmed off the show’s length without being missed).

There’s plenty that Noel Fielding seems to brazenly gets away with – dodgy Chinese accents, jokes about Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris – on simple grounds of being Noel Fielding, a comic with a self-styled “easy charm which mums like”, capable of offending only rabid cynics with his vain joie de vivre. Which is to say nothing of the fart gags, and a very literal climax to the show involving a giant foam penis strapped to a gormless audience member.

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The best bit, framing Fielding’s easy charm at its freewheeling best, comes after the interval when jaundiced New York City cop Sergeant Raymond Boombox attempts to solve the caper by going on a long roam among the audience to interrogate squirming spectators, filmed all the while on a portable camera by Hawk-Eye – the tennis ball-tracking technology personified as a bird-man (played by Michael), who has the hilarious ability to determine innocent from guilty with Wimbledon-esque drama.

Fielding’s repartee with unsuspecting Fifers is priceless – inquisitive, warm, unselfconscious, gently mocking but never mean-spirited. He could and perhaps should leave the show more or less there, but a lengthy resolving sequence follows, stretching the fun slightly too far, as Fantasy Man and Big Chief Whoolabum Boomalackaway venture into Joey Ramone’s plasticine world to do battle with a minotaur and a flatulent reverse minotaur, at one stage using Davie Bowie’s disembodied head as a weapon. You’ll understand what I mean about the hallucinogenic thing by now, I suppose.

Fielding’s routine badly wants for Barrett’s straight man foil

More Mighty Boosh, less Luxury Comedy would, in short, probably have been more satisfying across the piece – tellingly it’s stray Boosh-isms, such as when an audience member manages to coax Fielding into saying Tony Harrison’s “this is an outrage” catchphrase, that draw the biggest whoops.

Whatever professional impasse has developed between Fielding and his Boosh partner Julian Barrett in recent years, you wish they’d resolve it, because Fielding’s routine badly wants for Barrett’s straight man foil. But it says much of the kaleidoscopically cheerful effect he can nevertheless have on an audience, that even a show probably only half as trippy fuzzy-happy as The Mighty Boosh still succeeds in being twice as trippy fuzzy-happy as most.