Noel Fielding obviously wields an interesting mind in the way he can weave quirky characters and turn a phrase. His appearances on Never Mind The Buzzcocks show that he is, in fact, quite witty, not just weird. So I was interested to see how he writes when given total creative freedom and not in partnership with his Mighty Boosh co-star and writer, Julian Barratt.
Unfortunately, it turns out that Barratt’s absence from Fielding’s work is very noticeable. I’m a big fan of The Mighty Boosh, where Fielding’s weirdness worked well with Barratt’s deadpan tone. But that’s the main problem with Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. When left to his own devices, Fielding’s quirky little phrases and ridiculously colourful characters just seem to rattle on without direction.
Fielding’s own show seems like a natural progression from his successful appearances on The Mighty Boosh and Never Mind the Buzzcocks. Unfortunately, without a refined structure, Fielding’s sense of humour doesn’t translate. Saying abstract words or phrases out of context and then smiling cheekily is loveable and endearing but ultimately tiring. In a sketch show format, it all seems incredibly self-indulgent. It’s Noel Fielding being Noel Fielding for the sake of being Noel Fielding.
It seems unfair to compare an artist’s new work with their older projects. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult not to do that in this case, as Luxury Comedy is drenched in Fielding’s ubiquitous style and comedy. It feels like the hyperactive younger sibling of The Boosh, one who doesn’t get enough attention so acts out in an attempt to outshine the elder.
It isn’t without its charm. Fielding is a naturally funny and likeable guy and his characters are still endearing. So, despite its downfalls, I did enjoy the occasional chuckle, especially at the Pelé joke. But ultimately, it feels like Fielding has become a parody of himself.
The Mighty Boosh worked so well because Fielding would say a string of nonsense, building up, and then Barratt would close the deal with a deadpan rejection, rounding the exchange off wonderfully. Luxury Comedy builds the quirkiness up and then follows it up with… more quirkiness. Then it ends. It’s a joke with no punch line; no obvious conclusion. You’re left wondering what the point of it all was and it actually starts to get a bit mundane and irritating. Maybe that was supposed to be the point, but if it was, I don’t think it worked.