The Mighty Boosh
When Designer Magazine first interviewed Noel Fielding from the Boosh towards the end of 2004 the series was relatively a cult concern watched by students and a throng of teenage girls dreaming about running their hands through Vince's Hair (and other unprintable things). Fast forward to the start of 2006 and they're in the midst of a sell out tour, taking in 4 sold out shows in Manchester alone, and are regular fixtures on our televisions screens with cast members of the Boosh appearing in The IT Crowd and Snuff Box on constant rotation. Alex McCann caught up with Noel Fielding to discuss where the Boosh goes next and why you won't be seeing them in any programs like My Family and Coupling in the near future.
Q: Manchester, so much to answer for - how have the
Mancs been treating you?
A: I've been here for 3 days now so my hotel now looks like my house. I've been to Afflecks Palace and I bought a cape, a really weird cape, so it's been good. I like Manchester. I have a mate in Altrincham so when I used to do gigs up here in the early days I used to come up and stay with him.
Q: It's been about a month and a half you've been touring
now isn't it?
A: How many weeks have we've been doing it? (Curious Fielding mind-cog pausing) I think we've been doing it about 9 weeks now. The Boosh tour seems be growing with momentum at the moment. I'm not quite sure why, but all these gigs keep selling out and they add bigger venues and they keep selling out. We could just keep going but we're all just a bit knackered so I think we're gonna have a break and then come back and do some more in the Autumn.
Q: I've always thought the Boosh was a cult phenomena.
Have you been surprised at the success of the tour?
A: Yeah totally. It's weird because you do a TV show and obviously its such a bigger audience than you're used to having, but you never get any feedback from it or you don't know that anyone's watching it. It's a bit weird cos you make a TV show for a year and there's no audience involved with it and then when you're on TV a few of your mates text you about it and there's a few reviews and that's it really.
Then you go to places like Ipswich or Stoke and fill out
a 2000 seater with the fans rushing up dressed up as a characters screaming.
It's like wow, people did watch this!!! That's been happening all over
the country in really weird places you wouldn't expect. I didn't think
we'd sell out Ipswich. I didn't think the fans would be that crazy in Ipswich,
but they were really mental.
Q: How was it preparing for the tour because you've
done shows before on a smaller scale, but this must be a different process
A: We've done quite of a lot of live stuff, we've done 5 years of live gigs. You usually do a month residency when you do Edinburgh, Sydney or Montreal Festival and we've done them together 3 times and a couple of times on my own. We did do loads and loads of live stuff, so now it's just putting those skills to good use really. I think most of the people who come along haven't seen us do anything live and it's quite good because it's another thing we can do and they're quite impressed I think. It's not just a TV show put on stage, it's much more improvisational and we chat to the crowd and do a bit of cabaret.
Q: How does it work after doing the TV Show though?
Do you approach the live shows with a different mindset?
A: Yeah, it's just kinda getting back to it. But I haven't really stopped doing stand up cos I really like getting out in front of a crowd. I guess the story had to be a lot simpler so the audience can watch it scene to scene really. There's a lot of characters in it, a lot of music in it and some big visuals in it. We always improvise as well so it's slightly different every night. I guess the easiest way of describing it is it's slight more loose than on telly - it's just us mucking around really
Q: You don't have to do the whole local reference point
that comedians are almost contractually bound to slip in
A: Sometimes, but not really. After you've done 35 dates you do actually forget where you are. Grimsby just sounds the same as Derby in your head. Last night Rich, the American guy, was backstage going we're here we're here we're here and it was like no we're not, we're in Stoke you idiot. But he's American so all these places sound nonsense to him.
Q: What's the Boosh audience been like so far? I imagine
it's like a pop show where the Boosh girlies are down the front and the
students sit studently at the back
A: It's quite weird. It's very screamy. Fans dress up and they get a bit rowdy sometimes. It is much more like a gig, but we are using some theatrical techniques to try and convert them. You do have to watch the show, it's not just a case of wheel out the character wheel out the next character and then do the song. There is a bit of a story and dream sequences of mime which is totally ridiculous nonsense.
Some of our fans they don't really go to the theatre so it's quite interesting to see something in a theatre which is a bit more relevant to them. Not that it's a amazing piece of theatre (laughs) but we did attempt a Russian play, a kinda Brachtian play that Julian has written that's nonsense.
I haven't seen the Little Britain tour yet, but i've heard
they wheel out the characters very quickly. There's is a sketch show so
they don't have to worry about things like that. When we stopped doing
stand up we did all this cabaret stuff, so we basically start off a lot
of stuff just straight out to the crowd like Morcambe and Wise. That's
where the curtain stuff came from on our show. So on tour we go out in
from of this big curtain with the Boosh logo on it, do the play and have
a little chat about what we've been doing since the TV show and then introduce
Naboo and Bollo and Fossil and get them warmed up basically. That takes
about 25 minutes so it's just chance to let em know we're not taking it
to seriously and it is just us f**king about in silly hats. It's about
2 hours in all so we're trying to trim it back a bit because by the time
we get to London it's going to end up a 3 hour big fat show.
Q: Just like watching Lord Of The Rings then?
A: Like Gandhi our show. It's ridiculous
Q: Do you think it is mad that comedy shows can sell
out these huge theatre's because it wasn't like this 5 or 10 years ago?
A: I dunno. I guess there was Newman and Baddiel, but I talked to our promoter about that cos he did their tours and he said they didn't sell that many tickets in comparison to what we're doing which seems ridiculous cos at the time they seemed quite mainstream. I guess a lot of stand ups always have like Eddie Izzard and Billy Connolly, but there's not that much stuff around really. I guess there's only Little Britain and us who do comedy and are on tour, the rest of them are theatre and fringe theatre and stand up. There's not many comedy shows on telly that are taking the shows out on tour really. I know Vic & Bob do it, Newman and Baddiel did it and The Fast Show did it, but I guess a lot of those things are written for telly then they transfer them into a live shows. Because we started off as a live show it's not as alien for us to go out and do it on the stage. That's our secret weapon, the fact that we do know how to play a live audience, it's our secret weapon, cos we've done it for 6 years.
I'm really enjoying it. I do want to do more telly, but
i'd like to split it up a bit more. We did 2 or 3 years of just doing telly
and I prefer this, it's much more fun.
Q: Are you still doing your stand up shows cos I notice
you never seem to get outside London on them?
A: Just because we've been doing the Boosh and stuff travelling around doing stand up is quite knackering so I thought i'd do a few in London just to keep my hand in. I'd love to do a stand up tour and make a DVD of it, just a full hour show. I've done a solo show and it had animation and characters in it before so i'd quite like to do a straight one hour stand up show. Hopefully i'll end up doing it before i'm 55.
Q: Is it quite strange when you do have to work on
your own as opposed to with Julian?
A: It's a bit weird. What's great about this is there's Dave who play's Bollo, my brother's Naboo and Rich Fulcher the American guy as Bob Fossil and Julian. So it's like a band going on tour, we've got a tour manager and sound manager so there's about 7 of us in all. It's not like doing stand up where you're on your own or just with one other person. And the good thing is there's enough of us that if someone's getting on your nerves you can go off and talk to someone else.
Q: Cast members of the Boosh are taking over TV at
the moment....we've had The Boosh, IT Crowd and now Snuff box
A: (laughs) I know yeah. It's weird innit. Rich and Matt Berry did their show cos they've wanted to do some stuff for ages. Julian did Nathan Barley and then I did the IT Crowd. I did it because it was written by such a great writer, it seemed ridiculous not to do it.
I don't think Julian or myself are interested that much
in appearing in other shows. Julian did Nathan Barley cos it was Morriss
who did it and I did IT Crowd cos it was Morriss. Apart from that we do
get offered quite a lot of sitcom stuff, but i'm not interested in just
doing bit parts for sitcoms
Q: Have you turned down anything major?
A: Yeah, I guess so. A lot of the mainstream stuff like My Family, Coupling and shit like that where your agent goes this is so perfect for you. And I'm like "no, i'm not doing it". We do turn down quite a lot of stuff really. It's better to do your own stuff really and even though it took ages for the Boosh to get going and ages to write we're quite proud of it, but when it's this thing you're just in it's hard because you don't know what it's going to be like and you haven't got the control. You don't want to look back at it in 10 years time and go Oh My God that was awful or I did that and it was quite good....you want to go I made this freaky show.
We're both quite proud of the Boosh in a way. I know it's
not the best comedy show in the world, but it's original enough and weird
enough that we're proud of it. We didn't compromise on anything so it's
our vision. That's the most important thing. That you make something that's
your vision, not some weird sitcom that you didn't want to be involved
Q: I guess at this stage you have to start thinking
about the 3rd Mighty Boosh series or even a movie?
A: We'd really like to do a film actually. We have trouble cramming our stories into half hour chunks. I'm sure it's difficult to write a film, but we have some ideas. With a film the main problem is getting enough people to raise the money, but there is some interest. The guy who does a lot of the animation for our shows, Tim Hope, has done REM videos and Coldplay videos and is getting a bit of a name for himself. I think we might join forces and get a film together, putting a lot more animation in it.
We're going to a do another TV thing I guess. Not quite
sure. We might do a psychedelic Morecambe & Wise style thing with guests
and an audience. Then there's another Boosh thing that we could do and
there's two characters that we played in the Boosh, Rudi and Spider, that
we'd to do a series with them. There's loads of stuff, it's just knowing
what to do and trying to pick the right things. You just don't want to
get caught up in the whole production of things cos it takes ages. When
you do TV it takes ages to get anything actually happened and that's the
good thing about doing it live, you just book the dates and then write
the show and there's nothing in the way. You're not waiting around for
executives to say we'll have a meeting in a month and decide.
Q: A good idea would be to a Boosh Talk Show?
A: (laughs) That would be good. We're thinking of doing something a little bit more traditional. We might do this Morecambe and Wise type thing with an audience, some bands and guests. A bit like the Muppets. We could do another psychedelic TV show, but it would be good to do something different. We get bored quite easily so I think it will be different whatever we do.
Q: Are you still doing the music with Chris from Sneaker
A: Not as much, just because i've not been available at all. He's doing another album at the moment and will probably be touring later in the year. It's a shame because it's always good to just go travelling around playing bass.
Q: Are you ever going to launch yourself a Noel Fielding
- proper popstar?
A: No, I don't think so (laughs). We might get a cabaret set together of half musical / half cabaret set so we can play the festivals. A lot of festivals have been asking us to play like Leeds, Reading and Glastonbury and we don't want to just do comedy there cos that's rubbish. We're looking to get a 20 or 30 minute set together like Bonzo Doo Dah Dog Band or something. We want to do that so we can go out and support bands and stuff as well as doing the comedy.
Q: So the rest of 2006 - TV show, festivals and another
A: We'll see what happens. We'll probably tour in the Autumn and start working on the movie, and probably another series of IT Crowd. We just like to keep it spontaneous and keep it fun. We tend to just do what we fancy at the time and then move onto the next thing. We like to mix it up really so it doesn't begin to feel like a job
The Mighty Boosh appear in Manchester on April 5/6th
For full UK tour dates and ticket availability check out
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