Sunday, 21 May 2017

THE LEIGH SPENCE MOMENT: NOEL FIELDING’S LUXURY COMEDY


32. “You’re always going on some fucking quest, aren’t you, Fantasy Man?”



21/05/2017



When I first heard that Noel Fielding will present, along with Sandi Toksvig, the next series of “The Great British Bake Off,” I realised we had missed out on the opportunity to have had Spike Milligan and Victoria Wood present “Antiques Roadshow.”

However, what struck me as being uneasy is how Fielding will be put into a predictable format. He is currently a contestant on another game show, “Taskmaster,” built entirely around how you approach the task, which is where his strengths lie. While other contestants, in an effort to make themselves invisible, hid behind objects, Fielding used a green screen to hide as a banana in a fruit bowl. While most would not have thought of that, this is par for the course for someone whose work constantly engages with surrealist ideas, bordering on Dadaism at its best.

This is what annoyed me about the second series of “Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy,” subtitled “Tales from Painted Hawaii.” Broadcast in 2014, two years after the first, and two episodes shorter than it, the collection of sketches were no longer linked by fielding in a painted treehouse somewhere imaginary, but the characters were now in a familiar sitcom-type set-up, based in a coffee shop. Fielding appears behind the shop’s front desk, explaining the change of situation, before telling his friend Dolly that, “last time, a couple of people were confused.”


I felt like I had been told to fuck off for having loved the first series. It was like if John Cleese appeared in 1970, at the start of the second series of “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” saying, “we know not to do that again.” So, if I was to see any of Fielding’s inspired characters, they would have to be moulded into a story, no longer allowed to stand on their own - characters like:

-          Chefs Renny and Gaviskon, the latter of which has a pepper grinder for a nose.

-          Kite-Headed Brian Ferry and Brian Eno Frisbee.

-          The eyes-covered country music singer Silverback.

-          The animated adventures of Joey Ramone, Ice Cream Eyes, and Jeremy Beautiful Chest, the man who pays for everything that people get for free.

-          Daddy Push, who has a shell for a head, finds a remote control in the street, and drives away a box of fried chicken.

-          Dondylion, a deranged, encarcerated cross of Russell Brand and Tina Turner.

-          Doo Rag, assistant to the mashed potato-powered The Audience, imprisons, with the help of his brother Doo Cloth, the hedgehog Helen Daniels in a jail made of waffles.


I’ll never have enough space here to go through them all, only to say that the series is still available on DVD, although the painted artwork and carefully-made animation – the “Luxury” element of the title – could have done with a blu-ray release.

Both series of “Luxury Comedy” were stuck on E4, among panel shows, US imports of comedy shows and dramas, and “Hollyoaks.” If it was on the main Channel 4, where taking risks is expected, it might have worked better. Noel Fielding is there now, but he is presenting “Bake Off” instead.

In 2014, Fielding told “The Guardian,” in relation to the reaction to the first series: “People said, ‘You must be mad, or on drugs,’ which I found a bit disappointing. What about imagination? It reflects our time that people sooner assume you’re on drugs or mad, rather than free.” Could we all say we are ready now for a third series, or is it all the fault of Ice Cream Eyes again?

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