Spring Arts 2016
NOEL FIELDING'S STARDOM in his native England is one of those head-scratching curiosities that keeps US comedy fans shaking their heads in wonderment and jealousy. The 42-year-old Londoner's creative output and glammed-up fashion sense is the kind of combination that would turn him into, at best, a cult figure here, but in the UK, he's almost a rock god.
Fielding's ascension began as a member of the comedy troupe the Mighty Boosh, which he co-founded with his friend Julian Barratt. Their stage-show-turned-radio-show-turned-TV-series reveled in the absurd and the surreal. While it followed a three-act storytelling structure, it delighted in grotesque characters, non sequiturs (like the regular appearance of a nonsense-spewing talking moon), musical numbers, and Fielding and Barratt's undeniable chemistry. This combination struck such a chord with British comedy fans that, during their last hurrah together, the Boosh launched a 2008 tour that landed them in Wembley Arena, among other huge venues.
After his creative partnership with Barratt dissolved, Fielding went down a dual path. In one lane, he stuck to some fairly traditional roles, including his regular appearances on the music quiz show Never Mind the Buzzcocks. On the other, he wandered even deeper into a psychedelic forest of his own creation with Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy, a garishly brilliant half-hour TV show that defies all logic and easy description. That series proved to be too far out for British audiences; ratings suffered and the show was subsequently axed after two seasons. Fielding, on the other hand, still remains beloved, habitually lending his teased-up hair and sardonic wit to comedic panel shows.
- Dave Brown
Like so many of his British comedy brethren, Fielding is a cult figure here in the States. A cult figure with a enough of a rabid fanbase—weaned on Adult Swim airings of The Mighty Boosh and YouTube rips of Luxury Comedy and Buzzcocks—that he was able to sell out most of the dates on his upcoming tour, An Evening with Noel Fielding, including multiple nights in New York and Los Angeles, and his stop here in Portland at Revolution Hall on April 7.
It seems that Fielding prefers to remain below the radar on this side of the Atlantic. Unlike his fellow Brits Russell Brand, Steve Coogan, and Richard Ayoade, Fielding has seemed unwilling to cash in on the attention of famous fans like Ben Stiller and Mike Myers for parts in Hollywood movies. Fielding and the rest of the Mighty Boosh also didn't do what Eddie Izzard has done and translate their stage shows for international audiences.
The same will undoubtedly be true of An Evening with Noel Fielding. The stage show features a mixture of Fielding's stand-up, some animated sequences, and during the second half, appearances by many of the characters he introduced on TV, including Fantasy Man (a kind of psychedelic Arthurian knight), blustery New York cop Raymond Boombox, and the (aforementioned) Moon. You're either on board with his lysergic discursions, or you're not. Lucky for Fielding, it would appear that many are willing to follow him down whatever winding, multicolored path he creates. Besides, if it doesn't work out here, his home country will be waiting for him with open arms and an open chair on a quiz show.
An Evening with Noel Fielding
Revolution Hall, 1300 SE Stark,
Thurs April 7, 8 pm, $43
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