Tim Hughes speaks to Mighty Boosh star Noel Fielding ahead of his date at The New Theatre Oxford
Noel Fielding is having a weird week. But then, he admits, he always is.
The Mighty Boosh star laughs as he tells me about his trip, the night before, to a Mexican wrestling bout – a fairly surreal outing in itself.
“I was wearing a wrestling mask so I wouldn’t get recognised,” he says, in that distinctive gentle half-chuckle. “Then I went to the toilets and this man next to me asked if I was Noel Fielding.
“I was astounded, and asked how he knew, and he said: ‘because of your shoes’. Can you believe that?
“People think I’m a show-off, but I don’t really like being the centre of attention at all.”
While he admits he hates being recognised on a night out, there’s no chance of anonymity for the next few weeks as the comedian, one of the world’s great comic surrealists, hit the road with his An Evening With… show.
While best known for his quickfire repartee with Boosh partner Julian Barratt, Noel is this time doing it alone. Almost. “I’ll be joined by my brother Mike,” he says with genuine delight.
Mike Fielding – best known to Boosh fans as Naboo is the perfect foil to the glam-rock Noel with his quirky flights of fancy. “He is devoid of an ego,” he says. “He doesn’t get caught up in insecurities like me. He is enlightened. What he is doing on stage seems like he’s not trying, but he blows the roof off by just being himself. And people love that.
“Maybe he’s found the secret of comedy.”
Also making appearances will be Noel’s depressive luner alter-ego The Moon, and Tom Meeten, aka The Boosh’s Lance Dior – also a regular on Fielding’s latest surreal vehicle, Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. Like that show, which features music from Kasabian’s Sergio Pizzorno, An Evening With... promises plenty of tunes.
“It’s not a total freak-out,” Noel chortles (he really does... the word could have been invented for him). He adds: “There’s nothing you won’t understand!”
Noel, 42, who is also known through his hilarious roles in The IT Crowd and Nathan Barley, and as a team captain in Never Mind the Buzzcocks, is talking from his home in a trendy part of London (of course). But while the neighbourhood is hip, he admits his home is becoming a hazard. “There are books everywhere,” he says.
“The space between them is getting narrower and narrower. And I’ve got stuff on every wall. I am sitting here trying to write, but I keep getting distracted and never get anything done.”
He admits his lifestyle – going out until late, and then sleeping in until lunchtime – clashes with that of writing partner Barratt – who plays the Boosh’s jazz-loving self-styled intellectual Howard Moon to Noel’s light-hearted and vain Vince Noir. “Me and Julian go together terribly,” he says.
“He gets up early and I get up late. He’ll have been up seven hours before I get started. Sometimes I’ll phone him just as I’m getting in after a night out, just to freak him out, as he thinks I’ve just got up!”
It’s hard to tell where Vince ends and Noel begins. But he admits there’s more than meets the eye. He says the surprise popularity of The Mighty Boosh took him by surprise and admits that, by the time they were playing to a packed O2 Arena, “it had got too big.”
“Everything became an avant-garde nightmarish LSD trip,” he sighs.
“I was hanging out with people I didn’t think I’d be hanging out with. I love going out all the time, but that can’t last long. It was fun for a year though.
”Our comedy is loose and jazzy and people think we turn up, face the wrong way, improvise and go. But we work long hours. And the thing about partying all the time, and burning the candle, is that you get intolerant with the world - and mood swings aren’t good for motivation. You can get smug and mediocre and it’s easy to get idle.”
He extolls the virtues of “self-motivation”, adding: “Naboo would approve!
“My brother is a bit like Naboo, and quite Zen. He is naturally stoned, like Dylan in The Magic Roundabout, while I have always been uptight and nervous. Meditation makes me into a normal human being.
"People would know if I hadn’t done it. It’s weird because it shouldn’t be that way. I think the natural state is the way to be – but I drink a lot of coffee.
“Julian is insane in a different way. What’s good about having two different types of personality is there is no cross-over. But as different as we appear in The Boosh, we think exactly alike. People used to come away quite frightened, thinking we had some weird extra sensory perception. We can communicate with one gesture or look.
“It only takes one eyebrow lift to destroy me!”
An Evening with Noel Fielding is at the new Theatre Oxford next Thursday. Tickets from atgtickets.com
An Evening with Noel Fielding is available on Universal DVD now