The Mighty Boosh
Series 1
Series 2
Series 3
Outtakes
R1 Series box on Amazon

Welp. That's certainly something. It's very inspiring, in the sense that I have never before been moved to type into the IM window anything like, "Moggie, are that man's leukocytes singing a song about pancakes?" (Yes.) Fielding and Barratt have basically managed to write, produce, and star in a live-action cartoon sitcom. The narrative coherency is somewhere between Futurama and Aqua Teen Hunger Force; it's reasonably internally-consistent with very little continuity of the traditional sort, but a lot of callbacks to earlier jokes, some of them from several episodes or even an entire series ago. The plotting is what happens when you take all the clichès you can think of and throw them in a blender -- most of what makes it funny is suddenly noticing that they've managed to segue from one to the other when you weren't looking. It's also self-aware in bits in much the same way Monty Python was, where they seem to be oblivious to genre conventions one minute and the next Vince is turning around and explaining that he has to go rescue Howard because "that's how the show works".

There are a lot of things that strike me about The Mighty Boosh. One of them is that this is one of the most hilarious misuses of prodigious musical talent I've ever seen in my life. I don't know who writes the score -- there aren't any outside musicians listed in the credits -- but both Fielding and Barratt are phenomenally musical. To the point where it just sort of floats off them in waves of casual awesomeness while they are singing songs about whatever random object one of them has picked up last. I don't know who does the instrumentation either, but Fielding obviously plays something electric and stringed, guitar or bass or both -- he frets his air guitars in NMTB, and it's not a case of too much Guitar Hero, because I've seen him mime hammer-ons, and you can't do that with the standard game controllers. Probably also piano, as when he plays intentionally badly he does it in a way characteristic of someone who know how to do it well and is avoiding it.

Another is that both Fielding and Barratt are in fact very good character actors. Barratt strikes me as being a very good actor all-round, although I haven't seen anything else he's in to check. If Fielding isn't being asked to do a lot of voiceover work, I'd be shocked. Much of what looks like a budget of about £100 plus whatever they could dig out of the sofa per episode goes into some outlandish character makeup -- this doesn't include Vince's wardrobe, much of which I'd guess is actually Noel's wardrobe, as I do in fact recognize bits of it from Buzzcocks -- which mostly goes onto Fielding. He transforms to the point where it's unexpected to see the takes that break down and he starts giggling and drops back into his native Norf London. I don't know if I've ever heard him do a straight American accent, but his comedic ones are startlingly good, or at least intentionally bad in the same way as native-born Americans would render them.

But probably the biggest one is that Fielding and Barratt are incredibly nice. There's a lot of sarcasm and off-color screwing around, and there are certainly characters in it who are backstabbing and abrasive and otherwise unpleasant, but the protagonists actually act like they're friends because they frigging like each other. Pay attention to movies and sitcoms and you'll notice that an awful lot of "friends" are actual total sons of bitches to one another, except for the one moment near the end of the story where they magically realize that "friends should stick together" or something else equally unsupported and vapid. Vince and Howard aren't. Vince trips face-first into something Howard wants, and Howard goes to the local shaman (this makes sense, sort of, in context) to get a magical fix -- not because he thinks he deserves it and wants to grab it back from Vince, but because he wants to not be jealous and upset anymore. There's an entire joke exchange in one of them where Vince and Howard think they're about to die, and manage to somehow trip over and get tangled in the traditional "I love you, man," conversation. It's so terribly sweet, and so terribly rare. I love it.

(This also probably explains why Fielding isn't fond of Simon Amstell, or at least of Amstell's kind of jokes. Simon Amstell is a stand-up comedian, and his usual schtick can be summed up as, "Look, I'm gay, I'm Jewish, I bloody give up." He's exceptionally pointy and acidic with heavy use of sarcasm and recreational anger, about on a par with people like Lewis Black. I think he's fairly funny, but I'm also getting him in small doses when he's on stage -- I have no idea what he's like off-camera, and if he's that cutting all the time, I can see where someone who thinks The Mighty Boosh is the right way to write a comedy would start developing the urge to make him shut the fuck up. He does fairly well -- Amstell is the first to crack and laugh. I don't know if it's personal, but they both get their hackles up PDQ when working together.)

As an amusing corollary, Moggie was showing me photos of Fielding's earlier work, and I find him completely unrecognizable when he's not dressed oddly. Full-on comic drag with a giant bouffant wig? Still looks like Noel Fielding. Perfectly normal clothes and haircut? Could be fucking anyone! It's not that his current fashion sense is the only notable thing about him (he's got a huge and very charming grin, and really fantastically pretty bright blue eyes with or without all the kohl eyeliner, and why am I rambling about this? MOGGIE THIS IS YOUR FAULT), but that when he's wearing boring things he's lacking the characteristic mismatch between his wardrobe and his movements that my brain has apparently decided to key on.

Comments

  1. Muahaha. :D I'm glad you like it too. I was ALL READY to NOT LIKE IT and then I watched some and was charmed. :< and I got the sense that everyone in it was thoroughly enjoying themselves, which I just love in general.

    " (he's got a huge and very charming grin, and really fantastically pretty bright blue eyes with or without all the kohl eyeliner, and why am I rambling about this? MOGGIE THIS IS YOUR FAULT)" YES THEY ARE VERY PRETTY AND YES IT IS ALL MY FAULT MUAHAHAHAHAHA:D:D

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