Noel Fielding Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON, March 23
Published Mar 24, 2016Absurdist, surreal, off-the-wall, completely bonkers — all safely attributed to Noel Fielding. The English comedian/writer/actor responsible for the cult comedy series The Mighty Boosh and the more recent Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy hosted a sold-out two-night stint at the Danforth Music Hall. The night began as it was billed — as "An Evening with Noel Fielding" — but to the elated surprise of some, it soon morphed into a madcap cavalcade of costume changes, characters and surprise guests spanning the length of Fielding's career.
Fielding's set started off unassumingly enough — with the exception of a bright moon in one corner and a strange, tortured and maimed mannequin in the other. He began with crowd work somewhat typical of those from across the pond, mainly fixating on all the obvious interpretations of the term "hump day," which he now believes is a Canadian invention, no doubt. He was funny and likable, but at that point a fairly typical, though solid, standup comedian.
He moved on to topics of aging — Fielding is 42 this year — slowly bringing to bear his uniquely funny and absurd sense of imagery. Fielding has an incredibly seamless way of being both poetic and crude or ridiculous at the same time. Though standup is not necessarily what Fielding is known for, his way with words brought the house down.
Fielding's material grew increasingly bizarre with every joke, from dreams of being a teabag to a bizarre almost acid-induced scenario in which he is ostensibly a half-man, half-chicken creature who inadvertently kills a miniature cowboy Jesus figure.
His material comes across like a Richard Brautigan novel-turned-movie directed by Terry Gilliam. Phase out for a split second, and you have no idea what he's going on about. Sit at rapt attention, and there's a chance you'll still be confused, perhaps more so.
Roughly 40 minutes into Noel's performance — which ran over two hours — the gears shifted abruptly from standup to something resembling a live sketch-adventure featuring Rich Fulcher and Michael Fielding of The Mighty Boosh. The trio reprised roles from Noel Fielding's Comedy Luxury such as Hawkeye, plasticine Joey Ramone, Fantasy Man and Sergeant Boombox, while Fielding also interacted with a pre-recorded animation of himself playing the Moon, a favourite from The Mighty Boosh.
Any expectations of a normal, comfortable night of standup were obliterated when the trio began taking real-time trips from reality into a stop-motion plasticine dream world and back again, battling minotaurs, reverse minotaurs, plasticine Joey Ramone and a host of other strange enemies. Noel spent most of the show attempting to reconcile the loss of his wife (played by his brother Michael Fielding) to a particularly horny, aggressive and adulterous isosceles triangle, which was truly something to behold.
Fielding's show was unlike any other and the lion's share of material defies recounting — there are few ways of describing it without coming off as deliberately confusing to the point of petulance. Picture Salvador Dali, only as a funny sort of goth, and as a comedian rather than a painter.