Noel Fielding @ Vogue Theatre - April 9th 2016

Live Review: Noel Fielding @ The Vogue Theatre, Vancouver – April 9th 2016

Noel Fielding basically defies sufficient description of his antics and on-stage demeanour. I am familiar with him from his variety of English TV shows, including The Mighty Boosh, Luxury Comedy, and his team captaining of the much-missed music panel show Never Mind The Buzzcocks. I hadn’t ever really seen his stand-up routines before, so wasn’t too sure what to expect.

Well, expect everything and nothing. The stage had the curtain drawn with Noel Fielding’s name across it in lights, and the big, characteristic whipped-cream back of the moon, a character from The Mighty Boosh, hovering above the stage. It was really a flat disc with the moon image projected on it. It would frequently turn around to interject things or introduce things, and we were also introduced to the dark side (of the moon). Much of the show seemed pretty off-the-cuff, though I am not too sure if that is because he came up with unique material on the fly or if he just has such an easygoing canter to his speech that it comes across as winging it. He definitely works in some unique content, largely based on who met him earlier in the day in the alleyway or around the venue. I know his comedy has come under fire for being just obvious/weird, like he’s getting away with just saying random words, but his finesse with plucking the right combination of random words, putting them together, and creating an easily-imaginable scenario is clever and, indeed, downright hilarious. “Whimsy” was the word of the night, and additionally, he was so innocently amused by himself the whole show, which was quite endearing. He arrived on stage in characteristic fancy boots, tight black pants, and a billowy, vibrantly patterned shirt and did the first half of the show as essentially a stand-up set, punctuated by appearances as ‘his wife’ (who was really his brother Michael Fielding in poor Halloween drag), a Hawkman character (also his brother in a white faux fur sweater, exaggerated beak, and a tennis skirt… with nothing underneath. and longtime-collaborator Rich Fulcher as a bunch of characters, such as an isosceles triangle or the utterly-terrifying real-life incarnation of the plasticine version of the beloved armless Joey Ramone character from Luxury Comedy, or Fielding’s understudy, Antonio Banderas (in costume as Zorro). He went into a long bit about being over 40 years old and starting to walk around with his hands behind his back just because it’s more comfortable, and his metabolism slowing down.

I guess in a nutshell, it was Luxury Comedy live. If you haven’t ever seen it, the show sort of straddles sketch comedy and a sit-com. A bunch of absurd regular character segments that have nothing to do with each other are shuffled in between small storyline segments where the less-than-cool-but-wants-to-be-cool Noel Fielding gets into curious conversations with his friends and room/workmates, consisting of a German avant-garde former model (played by Dolly Wells, who wasn’t along on the tour), an anteater that looks a bit like Gonzo from the Muppets (played by Michael Fielding in a prosthetic nose and blue make-up), and Andy Warhol (played by Tom Meeton, who also was not along on the tour). Fulcher makes a few random guest appearance in the series, as does Richard Ayoade, but most of the characters are played by Fielding. A lot of time was spent in the plasticine world, which was created as video placed on a big screen at the back of the stage, and the use of a *magic* plasticine door that they timed beautifully well popping in and out of to have the real life characters suddenly appear as plasticine characters on the screen. There was a plasticine David Bowie in Labyrinth garb, where Fielding paused the show briefly to tell us that they were going to take the character out because they figured it was ‘too soon’ but then they figured they had just spent 6 months making it so they were going to keep it in. There were lots of *ahem* physical comedy moments involving penises, and a large-ish proportion of soccer/football jokes. This set was all over the map.

After the intermission, Fielding came back out in character as Sergeant Raymond Boombox, a New York cop with a portly belly, a bold black moustache and eyebrows, and painted-on features on his face and shirt. The gimmick here is that Fielding had been kidnapped by someone and Boombox was here to investigate to find the perpetrator. He came down into the crowd and spoke with random audience members, and was reduced to chuckles when he discovered that the careers of most of the people he talked to, which I suppose he intended to hilariously lampoon, turned out to be noble professions such as paramedics that he couldn’t bring himself to ridicule. As well, the beloved Fantasy Man made an appearance

I won’t give it all away (even though it was the last show of this tour), but the day was eventually saved. It was so much fun, and I haven’t laughed that much in ages. Just absurd, good fun.

So pro photos were not allowed at the show, but my friend Mikhaela Hill got some photos on her phone, so enjoy those below, and also, because I just happen to live above the alleyway behind the venue and was out in my solarium enjoying a pre-show beverage, I managed to snap this image of the Fielding brothers and Fulcher posing with some crew members before the gig as they took a break in the alleyway (for some reason…).

Noel Fielding © Andy Scheffler

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