The Mighty Boosh

If anything 2004 has been a strange year for comedy full of disappointing comebacks with Peter Kay's Max and Paddy series and Bo Selecta turning a one trick pony into a terrible 3rd series. Elsewhere Early Doors returned for an even funnier 2nd series, as did Little Britain, and new comedy such as The Smoking Room proved memorable highlights. It was The Mighty Boosh however that from it's initial airing on BBC3 took us to a strange and surreal world that made us laugh out loud after repeated viewing. Taking a naive and childlike vision where anything is possible, from green faced slap bass genius hitchhikers to Brian Ferry, King of the Jungle. Designer Magazine spoke to one half of the Boosh, the curiously sexy indie demi-god Noel Fielding, to talk about why the show was not only Best Comedy Of 2004, but the Best TV Show of 2004!!!

Q: I feel like Cilla Black this week on Surprise Surprise or Jimmy Saville on Jim'll Fix It. I'm just calling to let you know that The Mighty Boosh has won Best TV Show Of 2004 ahead of Little Britain and Early Doors
A: Oh really. Wow, that's excellent. It's really admirable that it's not just Little Britain at number 1 because most magazines don't know even what's good and they automatically put Little Britain in cos it's established. The Mighty Boosh is a quite a weird show to get your head around. It takes a bit longer and it's not very immediate like Little Britain where you can watch one episode and know what it's about. When you put The Boosh on it's like what the f**k's this, is it good or is it rubbish and then you get people who watch it once and don't get it, then they watch again and love it.

We've been doing it for a while and this year a lot of people have been coming up to us saying they really like it. It got a lot of hype on BBC3 and then when it moved over to BBC2 it got a bit of a weird time slot. Still a lot of people saw it, a million is a lot I guess, but you just have people going is it on cos it was never trailed.

I did a stand-up gig last night at the UCL student union and I came out and people were asking me to sign this and saying how much they loved the Boosh. I think it's only when you go out there and do gigs that you realize there are a lot of people who are into it

Q: Yeah, the thing about it is. It either appeals to kids at 4.30 in a spaced out Magic Roundabout sense or it works late at night around 10pm for the adults
A: I think that was the thinking around the 7.30 time slot on BBC2, that loads of kids had written in some fan mail or stuff. And the Head Of BBC2's kid loved it so they tried to class us a kids show. I'm not sure: Students, children and people who are a bit older like it. We get 80 year olds coming up to us telling us they really like the show cos they think some music hall thing's going on. Older people really seem to get it. They're not frightened of it if you talk nonsense, they just go "I've seen everything, what do you want from me?". I think it puts people off when it's described as this surreal comedy. It's not that surreal. It's more magical and everything happens sort of for a reason.

Q: When you first started the live shows was it always plan to get on TV?
A: We really liked doing the live stuff so it was always a danger doing the TV. We wrote a TV show for Channel 4 first of all, but they didn't understand it, so we thought lets go and perform it live. Our first show of the Mighty Boosh was based on a TV Script so we could show people how it actually worked in real life in real time with people laughing.

I think the second series will perhaps be a little easier to get your head around maybe, a bit simpler. It's one of those weird shows a bit like Garth Marenghi where you have to get into it and if you do it's more rewarding. I think probably what happens with comedy nowadays is that they're written so you can just pop in and out for a couple of episodes. I guess programs like Little Britain are good for that because if you watch one you get the gist of what they're about, which is probably quite clever. With our show that's no use at all. If you watch one show you just come away feeling angry and confused. We wanted to make something a bit more intricate with a story, some music and some animation. We just did what we wanted to do without appealing to anyone in particular.

Q: Going back to the early days. You met Julian at art school, does anybody who goes to art school actually go to do art or do they just go to form bands or become comedians?
A: No, you're not allowed. You have to go into a band or do some weird cabaret act - that's how it works!!! I met Julian while I was actually at art school, but he was doing American Studies or something. He was in a band as well touring around Europe in some acid jazz band cos he was musician as well. He's really into the music side of it. And I play in a band now as well so it's quite hilarious.

We're trying to get a Boosh Band together where we all dress up like a psychedelic Slipknot with the hitchhiker with the green face singing, Rudi on guitar, Bollo on drums and Naboo on sitar. I'm gonna sing and play bass, Julian's gonna sing and play guitar, Rich Fulcher on keyboard and Naboo on sitar. If we do a live show we might do 'a show' and then 20 minutes at the end of music...or we might just do some music gigs cos a lot of our friends are in bands as well.

Q: And the other band you've got. That's one with the guy from Sneaker Pimps isn't it?
A: Yeah, I play with him sometimes. It's his solo album basically and he asked me if I wanted to play bass for him. I didn't play at the time so he taught me in a month. I do that now and it's quite crazy playing in a proper band, cos the Pimps are still massive in America and Europe. I'll go over with him and do these really big gigs in Germany or Austria so it's really quite scary, but it's good fun because it means I don't have to do any of the groundwork of being in a new band. I get to literally turn up and play huge festivals. It's really good considering i've played like 7 gigs in my life (laughs), there's a lot of anger towards me from proper bass players in proper bands.

Q: Have you always wanted to be in a band because you do look like the archetypal indie boy?
A: Not really. I was always fascinated by comedy, which is quite a weird thing to be obsessed with. It's kinda weird. I didn't play an instrument when I was a kid so I always thought unless i'm the singer it's going to be a little tricky. My mum and dad were really into music when I was growing up and they had me when they were really young. They were 18 or 19 when they had me, so they were listening to stuff like Kiss and Led Zep so I was quite into that sort of stuff. Most of my mates parents were listening to slightly more square stuff, but my parents used to go to Black Sabbath and Motorhead concerts.

My girlfriend's in a band now and most of my mates are in bands so I guess it is quite good fun being in a band. When I see what happens to Chris (Sneaker Pimps) it's ridiculous. Some of the girls are mental and hang out for 7 hours outside his dressing room. It's quite obsessive and you don't really get that with comedy (laughs). In saying that we have got a lot of 15 year old girl fans, that's our fanbase, which i'm not sure whether that's a good or a bad thing. They're quite obsessive as well - if anyone slag's us off on the message board then they're straight in there. People come on the board and say "I don't really get this, you're not even as funny as the Chuckle Brothers" and all of a sudden they get 30 emails from these girls saying "Get off this site. This is the best program ever and we will kill you". They're hilarious...and slightly scary!!!

Q: When you and Julian first came together how did you come up with the world of The Boosh?
A: I guess because I was painting at college and he was making music, so we weren't really comedians. When we tried to make a show we didn't really think it out to be just jokes. We didn't know what it could be, so we just started writing all sorts of things - songs, poems - and we started doing stuff live where we got a girl on stage and Julian used to sing to her and we used to try and make her cry on-stage so that we could get her tear and put it into a smoothie. Then we used to drink it and fall in love with her. It was because we were naive and didn't know much about comedy that we were trying stuff like that. And it was kind of working, so we just continued to do stuff like that.

We get all these comparisons to Vic and Bob or Python. It wasn't that we were really obsessed with these people. I think it was that we were just more interested in music and art and other things and didn't really know about what was going on in the comedy scene at the time. When we won The Perrier Newcomer the first time we did it we were really surprised and just thought this is great, lets keep doing this. If we'd have just done that one show and it would have been a disaster we'd probably both have gone and done something else. It went so well that we kind of got locked in and before you realize it your 5 years down the line trying to get a TV show.

After touring around Melbourne and Australia we ended up getting a Radio Show which Julian enjoyed more than me cos he did all the music, whereas i'm quite visual. I was coming up with all these ideas of a bandit with kittens for guns and Julian was like "That's not gonna work on radio" (laughs). We did enjoy it though and we met Steve Coogan one day and he loved the show and suggest producing it. It's quite weird when you watch it on Tele and think how did that get on BBC2

Q: You're writing the scripts for the 2nd series, which I believe you have to have ready for the last week in December. How's it coming along?
A: We really liked a lot of things on the first series, but this time there are things I think we'll do slightly different. We like the adventures and the crazy characters and we're going to make more of the stuff we like. It always took us quite a lot of time to get out of the zoo and onto the actual adventures, so I don't think we're going to be in the zoo this time. It's gonna be quicker, a bit more direct and crazy.

Q: Are you still taking it on tour after the second series has come out?
A: Yeah, definitely. We'd love to tour now cos that's what we like best of all and i'm still doing loads of stand up. We're filming in March and won't be finished editing to May or June...and then we'll need that time to write the live show so we can go out in the Autumn.

Q: If people haven't seen you in the stand up role before how is it different from The Boosh?
A: I've always done stand up separately to the Boosh. I've always had a fanbase there that's separate from what I do with the Boosh anyway, but now we're on tele people turn up knowing what you do. People know you do weird stuff and they don't really want you to stray from that. Now if I do anything remotely like a proper joke people are ever so slightly disappointed. I accidentally made a pun last night. I have this whole stuff about raindrops and raindrop police and at the end I said "It's a washout" by accident. I accidentally made an old fashioned joke.

Q: A lot of people are asking on the message board. Are you coming up to Manchester at all, because all your stand up dates are in London
A: I'd love to. I used to do both the University's a lot and the Frog & Bucket. When we do our tour we'll definitely come up there cos my stand up stuffs gone down really well before in Manchester. People know what's going on in Manchester

The Mighty Boosh Radio CD is out now in all good stores
Look out for repeats of the TV series on BBC3 throughout the year
For more info

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Best Of 2004