The Sunday Review: The Mighty Boosh

Sunday 26 March (2006)

the mighty boosh is comedy genius

The state of British comedy at the moment is sadly dire. We are restricted to occasional flashes of brilliance like The Office, but that’s it. The days of The Fast Show are over – now all we have is Little Britain. Whilst we sell out our national heritage by making dire ‘the final series ever (for real this time)’ episodes of Only Fools And Horses and to a lesser-extent Absolutely Fabulous, our much-maligned American cousins have gotten their act together (at least in the creativity department – those studios really don’t know what they’re playing at) with shows like Arrested Development and Family Guy, not to mention the seminal Curb Your Enthusiasm. Hell, Larry David co-created Seinfeld which aired for nine seasons and a hundred and eighty episodes – kind of makes our Fawlty Towers pale in comparison, when you consider that it only lasted for twelve episodes. Unfortunately, this is where Cleese set the bar for British comedy now – both The Young Ones and The Office drew to a close in twelve episodes ‘because that’s how many episodes of Fawlty Towers there were’. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for ending before the show jumps the shark (Frasier, anyone? And don’t even mention Red Dwarf) but twelve episodes?? Larry David has written over fifty episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm alone.

And so, it is with pleasure that I receive The Mighty Boosh – not only a truly hilarious comedy, but also a groundbreakingly original one. It would be easy to label The Boosh as surreal comedy, but really I don’t think that it is. Sure the storylines and locations are very far out – magical, even – but those things aren’t what makes this such a funny show. Rather, it’s the chemistry between the two creators and stars, Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, which gives us all the laughs. Barratt is Howard T.J. Moon, a self-professed ‘jazz maverick’ who constantly aspires to something greater (in a style not unsimilar to Harold Steptoe.) To offset this is Fielding’s Vince Noir, a fashion conscious optimist with a youthful outlook on life. Their interactions – often improvised – are the true comedy genius of The Mighty Boosh.

For example: in one episode in series one the plot involves the duo travelling to the artic tundra to find the ‘egg of mantumbi’ – a sapphire apparantly as large as a schoolboy’s head. They get there thanks to a lift from eighties electro-pop star Gary Numan (“not only is he a pop star, but he’s also got a pilots license – imagine that!”) and soon encounter a strange race of Jawa-esque creatures, and a demon known as ‘black frost’ (or ‘the icy bastard’.) This is a pretty far out plot for an episode of a sitcom, but it still relies on tradition comedy techniques to make it work:

Howard Moon: “Just imagine the headlines ‘Howard Moon, Colon, Explorer’. Got a ring to that don’t it.”

Vince Noir: “Colon explorer? I think that’s got the wrong ring to it.”

The ample supporting cast and fantastic set design add to the greatness of the show. Every episode also features a musical interlude, performed either by Moon and Noir or the villain of that episode – classics include Isolation, The Ape Of Death, and The Hitcher. Multi-talented or what?

Some people don’t like this show, whereas others do. It’s certainly an acquired taste, but arguably the best things are. It takes a few episodes to understand the nature of the comedy – that despite its fantastic setting and plotlines, it’s not actually trying to be ‘surreal.’ It’s a character comedy; the situations just add an absurd bent to it all. I certainly think you need to see a few episodes to properly ‘get it’ and that’s a problem – if you don’t like it once, why watch more? It also doesn’t help that the second series is entirely superior to the first series; some will argue that it isn’t worth watching four hours of the show before you get to the ‘good stuff.’ But what am I saying?! It’s all good 🙂

Recommended, if you’re prepared to take a flight of fancy and see something original. Genius.


15 Responses to “The Sunday Review: The Mighty Boosh”

  1. sallymae Says:

    Genius indeed. And since when do I eat calamari?! 🙂

  2. Gabez Says:

    Peep Show? Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place? The Smoking Room?

    Well, I like those anyway. I also like The Mighty Boosh.

  3. stan Says:

    Peep Show was in fact fantastic yes, but I didn’t watch all of the second series so I can’t really endorse it as much as I’d like to. Dark Place was also very funny, but I’ve only seen the first episode and so again I can’t enthuse about it much.

    And The Smoking Room… I don’t know, I just feel like I’ve seen that done better years ago in The Royle Family. It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong, but it didn’t stand out.

    I’m not trying to say that British comedy is somehow less good as it once was – there have always been bad shows – but the ones that are overwhelmingly popular these days (Little Britain, Two Pints Of Lager… etc.) are absolutely rubbish. When they are the effective yardstick which other shows are measured against, things that aren’t actually that good start looking a lot better than they would if you compared them to ‘the best’.

  4. Really really really good review.

  5. Dave Raeburn Says:

    Haha. Watched this for the first time last night and it is EXTREMELY TRIPPY. Very funny. The Eel song by the hitcher was hillarious.

    Definitely marmite comedy – love it or loathe it!

  6. Natalie Says:

    Har har. I love ze Boosh.

    I think it’s one of those shows where, if you love it, you feel as though it’s made entirely for you because it is such an acquired taste. I, myself (no, someone else!)…can’t actually remember what I was going to say. *prods brain with a diamond letter*

    Oh yes, …can’t actually believe that a comedy is so tuned into what I find funny and genius. Because I am the be all and end all in the universe. Ahem.

    Anyway, I shall end this piece with me jumping around in a lion suit with three candles shrieking ‘I loves it, I loves it, I do! Give me more! Give me curtains!’

  7. Tony Harrison Says:

    Everyone! watch the next boosh episode now, it is genius.
    ‘eels’ was a great start to the new series but ‘journey to the centre of a punk’ surpasses it easily

    check out the bbc three website!

    website? what is… website?

  8. milky joe Says:

    The boosh is THE best english comedy. ever. Well, best show ever really, but all the best shows are english comedies anyway. Absolutely perfect acting plus a brilliant sountrack too.

    As Vince would say, “that is genius”

  9. Karin Says:

    My English teacher, I live in the Netherlands, asked me to watch an episode of The Mighty Boosh. I am still very grateful, since this is how I found out about this great show. I agree that it’s an acquired taste, but I already loved it after watching the first 5 minutes!
    It’s a good review, but after seeing The Mighty Boosh, I’m hoping to see more British comedies that aren’t shown in the Netherlands (yet). According to the review they might not be as good as The Mighty Boosh, but I wouldn’t want to miss such a great comedy for the world!!

  10. Bob Says:

    the mighty boosh is for pretencious knobs

  11. Jasmin Says:

    I totally agree with Karin, after just five minutes of watching this show I was laughing so damn hard…
    I also live in the Netherlands and we don’t have a lot of english comedy shows over here, such a pity!
    I’m a big fan of shows like fawlty towers, absolutely fabulous, the catherine tate show and little britain.. This show is absolutely a new asset to my list (A) love the english comedy!!

  12. bill Says:

    this show is awesome but the third season was crap, pure crap

  13. yous the mighty douche Says:

    anyone who likes the mighty boosh, is a total mighty DOUCHE. its a show for people who are unintelligent.

  14. ALacount Says:

    I love the might boosh!

    The Peep show is another vavourite- though the might boosh wins top spot for me purley because of its total absurdity!

  15. Bob Says:

    You cant write for shit, like bloody twelve year old trying to sound clever and cool.

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