Before I get started with my story, I should probably make sure everyone knows who Noel Fielding is. After all, almost every time I mentioned I was going to see this show, most people had no face to go with the name. If the person I was talking to was a British TV comedy fan they might know Mr. Fielding played Richmond the Goth on The IT Crowd. Or if they were in my children’s age range, I could ask them if they know who Old Gregg is.
If not, I was pretty much at a loss to explain who this English celebrity is because if my American friends don’t know the Boosh or Richmond, they’re never going to have come into contact with him on Never Mind the Buzzcocks or the Big Fat Quizzes of the Year.
I can only describe Noel as a Renaissance man; stand-up comedian, actor, visual artist, frequent panelist on comedy quiz shows, and dabbler in music (particularly the crimp style). This talent, however, is beyond explanation. Channeler of Kate Bush perhaps?
Anyhow, you get the idea. So there I was, just arrived in Boston from Cleveland to experience Noel Fielding live with my son and co-conspirator in slightly deranged British comedy. We Ubered into the theater district on a rainy evening and pulled up in front of the Wilbur with a few hours to kill. We loitered across the street at the Rock Bottom brewery nursing our Roy Rodgers and lemonade until we could get in to the show.
Once inside we found our seats with the aid of a justifiably confused usher. I ask you; post it notes on cheap restaurant chairs and seats from row 13 and 14 located right next to each other. Nevertheless, I was pleased at how close we were to the stage and was reassured that not everyone in attendance was dressed as a Noel Fielding creation though there were plenty of those as well. Including someone who looked a bit like this…
The point was we were all together, the flamboyant and the quiet Noel lovers, all eager to witness whatever hilarious weirdness he was about to throw at us.
And on that account Fielding didn’t disappoint. He made his entrance in this sparkly ensemble:
He quickly shed the cape and headdress and got down to business with a good forty-five minute stand-up set in which he bemoaned the descent into his 40’s, explained what “chavs”are and regaled the audience with a bizarre dream he had about being an herbal tea bag.
For those of us who arrived at the appointed time, we could delight in our host’s playful scolding of latecomers, giving one couple an in-depth recap of what they’d missed so far.
Being the first audience of this North American tour, we got to be Fielding’s guinea pig in some respects. Very considerately he had thought to translate certain terms and brands from British to American. Examples were the cheeses Dairylea and Laughing Cow and modelling clay brands Plasticine and Play-doh (which aren’t exactly the same but close enough).
The rest of the show featured Noel’s brother Michael as Hawkeye (a half bird half man creature that somehow has something to do with tennis umpiring) and Noel’s cheating wife. We got “treated” to a glimpse of his bum as well. American actor and frequent Mighty Boosh co-star Rich Fulcher played a multitude of characters including Antonio Banderas, a clueless harlequin and a triangle. That last one is just too convoluted to explain. For me Mr. Fulcher is fine in small doses but the crowd really seemed pleased every time he stepped on stage.
The cast interacted with Fielding’s famous animated moon and a menacing Plasticine Joey Ramone.
One of my favorite parts of the whole show was when Noel waded into the crowd followed by a camera (I can’t tell you why) and interviewed members of the audience. In fact, he stopped to talk to the couple seated in the row directly in front of us. Alas we didn’t get to tell him about our city of origin, interesting jobs in the library world, nor that we were in fact mother and son. For my dear boy it was a close call; for me a case of so close yet so far.
I have a new appreciation for Noel’s improv skills and rapport with the fans which you don’t get to see from his more structured TV appearances. He seemed surprised and chuffed that anyone in America knew who he was let alone a sold-out crowd in Boston. If he’s coming to a city near you and you’re game for some avante-garde comedy, I’d highly recommend taking in the show.
It was all that I could have hoped for and well worth the over 600 mile journey. In the end I didn’t even seek Noel out at the stage door to see if a selfie or autograph was possible (and as you may have gathered, I’m a shameless fan girl). Why ruin my perfect evening or mar the impression of a person I’ve found fascinating since early in my British comedy awakening? I was right about him all along. That’s all I need to know.