From ‘Boosh’ to Boston, welcome to Noel Fielding’s very weird world
Come Thursday night, the Wilbur Theatre may be the strangest place in Boston. That’s when “An Evening With Noel Fielding” rolls into town, bringing with it a surreal circus of stand-up, sketch comedy, animation, and music. Fielding is the comedian, painter, and musician best known for “The Mighty Boosh,” the BBC comedy show he worked on with Julian Barratt from 2003 to 2007. It was an unlikely smash hit, considering how Fielding describes what he and Barratt were trying to do.
The pair played zookeepers in a run-down establishment called the Zooniverse, where their sidekicks were a swami and a talking ape. On a moment’s notice, they could switch settings and be in the desert or the sea, often punctuating scenes with music videos of them playing anything from electro to funk. “I think we were trying to cross Beck and the Beastie Boys with Frank Zappa with ‘Jason and the Argonauts’ with Rene Magritte,” Fielding says. “The more influences, the better, really.”
None of the stage show is taken wholesale from “The Mighty Boosh” or Fielding’s even odder follow-up show, “Luxury Comedy,” but there will be elements of both. “Boosh” alumni Michael Fielding (Noel’s brother) and Rich Fulcher will pop up after Fielding’s opening stand-up set to play several characters in sketches and in the second, more narrative-based half of the show. “I think if you’re fans of both things, then you won’t be disappointed,” Fielding says.
There will be some familiar faces among the new characters written specifically for this show. The Moon, one of Fielding’s oldest creations, will be featured along with his evil alter ego, the Dark Side of the Moon, who will harass Fielding in the more scripted sections. Fantasy Man, a Don Quixote by way of “Tron” from “Luxury Comedy,” will appear, as will Joey Ramone. Fielding also gets to indulge his visual instincts with an element of interactive animation.
“At one point I go inside the animation,” he says, “and we put someone from the audience in the animation and they become an animation on the screen, which I think is quite cool. It’s all done in a quite lo-fi way — that makes it seem a lot more high tech than it is. We tried to keep it quite lo-fi so it was still charming.”
Fielding laughs when asked if he’s ever had an idea that was just too weird to bring to life. “Yeah, loads and loads!” he says. “We would sort of laugh a lot, me and Julian, when we were writing. It’s funny, when you’re writing comedy, some things are funny that day and you realize you’re a bit delirious. Then when you come back a week later, [you ask] ‘Why was this funny?’ And other things make you laugh every time.”
Considering his flamboyant creations and his confidence onstage, it would be easy to assume that Fielding grew up as the class clown. Not so. He says everyone in his family was funny, but brother Michael was the funniest. “I was quite shy,” he says. “I was always into painting more, and drawing, and creating worlds.”
Fielding has a lot of ideas for what he might do after the tour is over, including film and TV projects and a children’s book. He feels the constant need to create, just for his own sanity. “I like to be busy, otherwise I sort of go a bit mad,” he says.
And what, exactly, would it look like if Noel Fielding went mad? “It’d just be me sitting in a chair,” he says, laughing. “It’d be really boring.”
He won’t commit to anything, but he does say there is a chance he and Barratt might collaborate again in the not-too-distant future. “I’m not going to say that we’re going to do anything, ’cause everyone freaks out when I say it, but we have talked about doing some more stuff. I don’t know whether that will happen or not, but that’s always a possibility.”
Despite the success that “Boosh” had overseas, and then in America when it aired on Adult Swim and BBC America, Fielding has never toured extensively in the States. He’ll be visiting a lot of US cities for the first time, including Boston, Chicago, and Seattle, and seeing how his humor plays there. “There’ll be that added excitement, adrenaline, and danger. I’m not going to know 100 percent which bits work, really, until we get it up and running.”
An Evening with Noel Fielding
At the Wilbur Theatre, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m. Tickets: $42, 866-448-7849, www.thewilbur.com