The Mighty Boosh
A glowing testament to the phenomenal power of word of mouth, The Mighty Boosh has over the last decade transformed from a makeshift stage troupe performing to small crowds into an international sensation boasting a catalogue of five live stage shows, a series of radio plays, a hit television show and an upcoming feature film. Formed over a decade ago by principle members Julian Barratt and Noel Fielding, The Boosh was born out of a desire to recreate the anarchic comedy of The Goodies, an iconic early seventies television series specializing in offbeat sketch comedy, bizarre musical numbers, and overt surrealism. But rather than a series of self-contained sketches, The Mighty Boosh takes the idea much further, expanding the notion of boundless whimsy to the world at large.
Now in its third season, the one Cartoon Network has irritatingly elected to open with here in the US, the Boosh has waved goodbye to the “Zooniverse” that was the setting for season one and relocated itself to a flat in Dalston, by way of forests, deserts, submarines, and the planet Xooberon. Still trying to gets their crappy band signed, dorky Howard Moon (Barret) and narcissistic hipster Vince Noir (Fielding) share the flat with ultra laid-back freelance shaman Naboo Randolf Roberdy Poberdy The Enigma (Naboo for short) and his Ape familiar Bollo. The reckless misuse of Naboo’s magics, potions and trinkets often provides the catalyst for each episode’s surrealist ramble.
Wild, zany, and unapologetically trippy, Boosh works because of a commitment to the craziness, where no hint of camp, irony, or winking to the camera is permitted to break the spell. Like a Monty Python on acid, Barratt and Fielding are of the mindset that you don’t need rules, plot, story, or structure. You just need to be funny, inviting the audience to bend to a creative freedom that literally knows no limits.
Standout episodes of The Mighty Boosh include Call of the Yeti, a Deliverance style thriller in which Howard drags the gang camping to photograph the mysterious Yeti, while Vince tries to stave off the advances of a Grizzley Adams of Kodiak Jac, intent on giving Vince the “perty mouth” treatment; The Priest and the Beast is a Mexploitation parody as Naboo councils Vince and Howard over their lack of musical talent with the story of the Bongo Brothers and their legendary romp through the desert in search of The New Sound; Nanageddon is a gothic horror fable that sees Vince and Howard looking to impress two goth girls with sorcery and accidentally summoning a demonic grandma. Nannageddon also features a sidesplitting turn from Richard Ayoade of The IT Crowd as a rival shaman with a grudge against Naboo (“He knows nothing of the crunch!”). All of which are peppered with some deliciously inventive musical numbers ranging from electro-jazz to heavy metal.
It’s nothing if not enticing, but it’s certainly not for everybody. It’s also not quite as odd as it sounds on paper and there is a calculated intelligence to the absurdity that keeps it from tripping over into pure self-indulgence. If everything is utterly fantastical and out of place, then very quickly nothing is and you find yourself relaxing into the rhythmic fantasy of it all.
In the end there really is no middle ground with a show such as The Mighty Boosh. Either you’re willing to surrender yourself to it completely and let it take you where it will, or you’re not. If the idea of a loosely episodic comedy with next to no rules, boundaries, or structure where a shaman and a giant testicle with tentacle legs argue on a magic carpet about whether or not to ask directions from the moon strikes you as the kind of idea you can get behind then this is indeed the show for you.
Starring: Julian Barratt, Noel Fielding, Michael Fielding, Rich Fulcher, Dave Brown
Created By: Julian Barratt & Noel Fielding
Network: Cartoon Network – Adult Swim
Showtime: Weeknights, 1:00am EST