At the Vogue Theatre on Saturday, April 9
I think someone slipped some acid into my Pabst Blue Ribbon on Saturday nightat An Evening With Noel Fielding at the Vogue.
Everything started out normal. The British star of The Mighty Boosh came out, did some crowd work, talked about being in Vancouver as a kid, and got about doing standup. He spoke of the perils of aging—the 42-year-old now finds himself walking with his hands behind his back—in his typically manic style, pacing around and constantly commenting on his process like a chav Andy Kindler. So far, so normal.
A sip or two later and he was telling us about a dream he had where he was a tea bag. A herbal one, at that. I’m not sure. Things were getting hazy. I was disoriented. That led to a story about his wife leaving him for a triangle. A triangle? These scribblings in my notebook are getting more and more indecipherable. Next, he was doing a bit as a chicken-man. There was no payoff to it. He said, in his self-referential way, “I’m not sure if this is standup comedy or a mental breakdown.” I hear you, Noel.
And then things got really weird. A large animated moon joined in on the show. And then his understudy, a fat Antonio Banderas dressed as Zorro, entered from stage left. It probably wasn’t the real dude. He bore a striking resemblance to Boosh cohort Rich Fulcher.
It was a blur from there. Wimbledon’s Hawk-Eye helped settle a dispute between the two. We also met Fielding’s diminutive wife, who bore a striking resemblance to Hawk-Eye, who bore a striking resemblance to Fielding’s real-life brother Mike, also a regular on The Mighty Boosh. Then there was the personification of the philandering triangle, a Plasticine Joey Ramone and friends, a shoot-first-ask-questions-later New York cop, and an appearance by Fantasy Man and his Styrofoam-cup jawline.
It was like Pee-Wee’s Playhouse meets It’s Garry Shandling’s Show—a surreal, cartoonlike world populated with crazies and a host who breaks down the fourth wall, going in and out of the world he created while the others stay put. It was a live comedy show unlike any other—funny and fun and weird and mind-bending and inspired. The sold-out crowd got their money’s worth, too, with the night coming in at two-and-a-quarter hours.
Fielding’s first North American tour ended a success. The midsize theatres he played were the perfect size for his interpersonal mayhem. While everyone should go see him the next time he crosses the pond, it would be a shame if he got as popular as the Boosh did in Great Britain, where it was playing arenas to 10,000-plus punters. Keep it intimate. Stay cult. It’s freaky enough being in a sea of people even without the almost-acid trip.