'I Don't Know Why Young People Like Me'

9 April 2015 | 11:08 am | Hannah Story

"I think I’m one of those phases."

Noel Fielding

Noel Fielding

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It’s 11.30pm in London. Noel Fielding has settled down with a cup of “tea-ora orange” (tequila? Vodka?), because his voice is getting croaky: he talks too much in interviews, he says. His way of speaking is rapid, kind of like the little boy who lives next door to me; he pauses to consider the answer to a question, and then lets fly, words tumbling out with the momentum of a runaway train. He puts on those voices we’d all remember from The Mighty Boosh or Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy, sipping on his drink, asking questions of me in return. He wants to know where I live and what I think and how to deal with jetlag: “How do you do it? What do you do? Do you stay up on the plane? Do you take sleeping pills? Do you not? Do you not drink? Do you drink? It’s a fucking nightmare.” He is quick to quip, complaining about the sun in Australia. “I might retire after this tour in Australia. [But] I think it’d be too hot for me. I’m not really into the sun. No place for goths in the sun, it’s ridiculous. I’m gonna get a black umbrella like a parasol. Like Mary Poppins.” “Like a goth Mary Poppins?” “Yeah, Mary Gothins!” He likes the idea of meeting his interviewers after his shows, to give a face to a disembodied voice. It’s a strange thing, he says: I know what he looks like, but he doesn’t know me. “You’re a stalker, essentially.”

Noel Fielding is coming out to perform his latest, An Evening With Noel Fielding, in his first Australian shows since 2012. In the meantime he’s put out a second season of Luxury Comedy and put on an art show at Royal Albert Hall, appearing at tribute shows, on panels, and in his regular spot as team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks.

So what’s this An Evening With Noel Fielding all about anyway? “It’s sort of a weird show. There’s a lot in it. It’s got stand-up in it, and then it turns into a sketch show. My brother’s [Michael Fielding] in it, he plays Naboo in the Boosh, and another comedian called Tom Meeten who’s in Luxury Comedy and the Boosh, he’s very physical. There’s music in it, I wrote some of the music in it with Serge from Kasabian. The second half of it is a story, I get kidnapped. There’s animation in it as well, sort of plasticine animation. The Moon’s in it, The Moon’s alter ego The Dark Side Of The Moon is in it, his evil twin. And then in the second half I get kidnapped from my own show and I play different characters who have to try and find me. I play a New York Cop and I interrogate the audience. There’s a bit where we take someone from the audience on stage and put them in an animation at the end and they save the show. It’s a pretty big, long rambling show with many facets. Covered all boundaries: animation, stand-up, sketch, music, narrative, it’s all there, audience participation, improv, we’ve got it all down. Hopefully.

“There’s a bit in it where I play a half-man, half-chicken; that’s my favourite bit to do. And then there’s a bit where I play a herbal tea bag and do a whole bit about tea bags.

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“A lot of the ideas came from my initial stand-up. I had an idea that my wife, I talk about being married, I’m not, but I talk about being married, and my wife got off with a triangle. And we thought it would be quite funny if my brother played my wife, and then Tom played this guy that she’s having an affair with who is actually a triangle.

"But the problem is I’m not that interested in writing a show and talking about, y’know, I don’t know, work and pizzas and hangovers and blergh, all that stuff, it’s not me, really."


“What we tried to do: we tried to make it that you could watch it even if you haven’t seen any of my shows. You don’t have to know anything about me to enjoy it. It’ll help if you know what sort of stuff I do, or if you like that kind of comedy. We tried to make it not have to rely on anything from any of the TV shows or anything. There are some characters from the TV shows but they’re pretty archetypal characters.”

With that aim in mind, it’s not a comedy show aimed at the types of people who dress up as the Crack Fox or Old Gregg before a Mighty Boosh gig (although there no doubt will be some in the audience, all pink tutu-ed and bushy tailed).

“You never really know who your fans are,” Fielding says. “You kind of imagine they’re one thing, but they never are. I do get a lot of young people, weirdly, I don’t know why, but young people seem to like what I do. Maybe young people are quite interested in more conceptual, fantastical stuff. I don’t know why, maybe when you get older you want your own life sort of reflected back at you to prove that you’re alive.

“In a weird way, I don’t know, and when I did this tour, there were some older people there and I really liked that. When we did the Boosh, there were kids there, people used to bring five-year-olds and stuff, the show was quite rude. But Julian [Barratt, the other half of The Mighty Boosh] always used to love it when there were really old people there. We did some gigs in Philadelphia and there were these old guys that used to come, they were in a jazz band and they used to come, and they came about three times.

“I quite like it when kids come. Kids are quite free though, so when you do quite nonsensical stuff, or fantastical, surreal stuff, kids don’t have much of a problem with that. They kind of go, ‘Yep, I’m with you. What’s happening? There’s a man made of milk? Yep, I’m in.’ Whereas adults tend to go ‘What’s happening now? This doesn’t make sense. What?’ They get trapped in their own logical minds.

“I get quite a high ratio of girls, which I’m quite pleased about. Comedy can be a bit laddy, a bit aggressive, especially stand-up. I’m quite proud of the fact: the Boosh, we always had as many women as we did men, probably more women actually than men. I don’t really know many comedians where that’s true. We weren’t really aggressive comedians, we were quite soft.

“As I’m getting older my audience are staying the same age, they are quite young. It’s like a science-fiction film where I get older and no one else ages. I’ll be like 80, and my fans will still be 17, it’ll be really weird. I don’t know why that is. There must be something about what I do that attracts young [people]. You know when you’re young, there’s a period where everyone gets into The Doors for about two years. When I was a student I was really into The Doors, and as you get a bit older you don’t really like them as much, but you go through a phase liking certain things when you’re young. I think I’m one of those phases.”

Fielding admits that he’s not sure what he’ll be doing after touring An Evening With Noel Fielding, but he rules out a Season Three for Luxury Comedy. Maybe he’ll try and write something that’s not as fantastical.

“I’ve tried to write normal stuff,” Fielding says. “It doesn’t really work for me. I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna try and set my next show in the real world. But the problem is I’m not that interested in writing a show and talking about, y’know, I don’t know, work and pizzas and hangovers and blergh, all that stuff, it’s not me, really. You must have something to relate to in your comedy. I always end up becoming quite fantastical and that’s when I feel really excited and stimulated. And I think, ‘Oh yeah, this’ll be good, imagine this.’

"I’m not really into the sun. No place for goths in the sun, it’s ridiculous."


“I’ve spoken to the Channel [4] about doing something else, but maybe not a Luxury Comedy… I kind of feel like we did that, and we should do something else now. I’d quite like to do something set in real life. I know that sounds insane, but I just thought it’d be a challenge for me to set something in real life. But not that you couldn’t have fantastical elements.

“I did TV shows back-to-back, then a live show, so I kinda wanna take my time and think about what I wanna do next, not just jump into the next thing. I’ve sort of been working solidly for about ten years without even pausing for breath or looking up and I feel like I should maybe chill for a little bit and then think about exactly what I wanna do next before I jump in, y’know? I’ve been talking to Julian as well a little bit. You never know, we might do something with the Boosh again. There’s options, there’s so many things I could do, so I just wanna make sure I work out what I wanna do before I jump into it headlong first and then spend two years making something. I might go into politics, is what I’m saying [laughs]. I might just start dancing on the street corners for money.”