Saturday, June 23, 2012

British Actor of the Month--Big Crimpin' Edition

It's been almost a year since I've done one of these. The series title is getting a bit silly now, but I really can't be bothered to go back and change them all (as well as the tags) to British Actor of the Indiscriminate Period of Time.

This random time unit, I'm featuring the men behind my current British TV obsession

The Mighty Boosh
They'll calm your llama down.

Julian Barratt--mustachioed, intellectual, introverted--and Noel Fielding--whimsical, rock 'n' roll, pretty--are the comedy double act behind this ultimate* of cult shows. For most double acts, the the Name and Name format will suffice, but there's nothing conventional about Barratt and Fielding's style, and so they called themselves The Boosh as only an absurd in-joke would do. Starting out on stage before moving to radio and television, The Mighty Boosh features the two of them as self-important yet ineffectual "jazz maverick" Howard Moon (Barratt) and the simplistic, fashionable electro boy (or girl? nobody really minds) Vince Noir (Fielding)--sometimes zookeepers, sometimes shop clerks, but always best friends--as well as a host of other characters played by themselves as well as Rich Fulcher, Dave Brown, Michael Fielding, and, occasionally, Matt Berry and Richard Ayoade. Often mislabeled surrealism, The Mighty Boosh is a world of magic realism in which Howard and Vince go on adventures featuring mod wolves, drug-addled foxes, and transgendered lake monsters. With a distinct visual aesthetic and musical numbers, The Mighty Boosh presents hilarious fairy tale-like stories for adults.

But I also wanted to feature the Boosh to highlight many of the really great shows Barratt, Fielding, and their collaborators have been involved in, such as:

Nathan Barley, a biting comedy about vapid trendsetters.  Barratt plays Dan Ashcroft, a "serious" writer at a trendy magazine who rails against the idiocy that surrounds him, not realizing that he's just as much an ass as everyone else.  Fielding and Ayoade have small roles as Dan's roommate and co-worker.  

Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy, a sketch show that blends bizarre humor with psychedelic, hand-painted visuals and music by Fielding and Kasabian's Serge Pizzorno.  Most of the show's strange characters are played by Fielding, but pretty much everyone from the Boosh (except Barratt) has appeared in it.  

The IT Crowd, a sitcom about the geeks who fix your computers, stars occasional Boosh cast member Richard Ayoade as the extremely nerdy Maurice Moss, and Fielding has a recurring guest role as Richmond, a gloomy goth who lives in the server room.  Mid Series 2, Matt Berry also takes over as the company's boss.


Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, in which a down-market Steven King presents the horror show he made in the 1980s about a hospital on the hellmouth.  The show brilliantly parodies low-budget production from the bad dialogue to the appalling acting to the catastrophic special effects failures.  Starring both Dixon Bainbridges (Ayoade and Berry), the show featured both Barratt and Fielding in guest roles as a random Spanish-spouting priest and a pissing ape-man, and is a must-see whether or not you actually like the Boosh.


Snuff Box is a sketch comedy show starring Berry and Fulcher that is structured around loose narratives set in their club for hangmen. Though neither Barratt nor Fielding were involved, the show's quite clever and deserves honorable mention.










*I know I say this about a lot of things, but this time it's true. I remember hearing whispers it on other cult shows' message boards.