British comedy likely wouldn’t be thriving in the way it currently is without the creative freedom of The Mighty Boosh, a bizarre comedy troupe who released a TV named after them in 2003 that gripped a generation of teenage millennials. Within this, there was no bigger countercultural star on British television than Noel Fielding, the idiosyncratic star of the show who later became a regular attendee on multiple quiz shows across the landscape of BBC and Channel 4.
As the eccentric, music-loving zookeeper in The Mighty Boosh, Fielding helped to create a subculture of young people who shunned social norms and embraced wild fashion and wacky humour. Together with co-stars Rich Fulcher, Julian Barratt and Matt Berry, Fielding would help to change the face of British comedy throughout the early 21st century.
Putting the Mighty Boosh troupe together in the late ‘90s, Fielding and his roommate Julian Barratt enlisted the help of the American comedian Fulcher as well as Fielding’s friend, Dave Brown, as they set out to make comedy history. The troupe created three-stage shows from 1999 to 2000, with each one taking place at the Edinburgh Fringe before their success took them to a radio series titled Autoboosh.
Commissioned in 2003, The Mighty Boosh enjoyed a healthy three-season run and instilled a sense of nonsensical comedy in the 21st century, recalling the likes of Monty Python whilst keeping in line with the burgeoning rise of internet humour. Alongside the efforts of Chris Morris’ Brass Eye series as well as Peep Show, from writers, Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain, Noel Fielding and The Mighty Boosh helped to herald a style of comedy that runs rampant in contemporary Britain.
Inspired by a distinct, wacky form of storytelling, The Mighty Boosh had a handmade quality that felt like the product of a group of friends playing make-believe in their garden, with the formula charming modern audiences. The style also recalls the essence of the Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky, a filmmaker who Noel Fielding names as one of his all-time favourites.
In fact, whilst in conversation with The Guardian in 2014, Fielding named two of the director’s films as his all-time favourites. “Holy Mountain and El Topo are two of my favourite films,” the presenter and comedian told the publication, before waxing lyrical about the legacy of the filmmaker himself.
“Jodorowsky films are so dense and rich and poetic, it’s hard to watch other films afterwards,” he tells The Guardian, adding, “He’s pretty incredible: he also does tarot reading and ‘psychomagic’ therapy, as he calls it, and he used to do mime with Marcel Marceau”.
It’s not hard to see the influence of Jodorowsky in The Mighty Boosh either, with the episode The Priest and the Beast from series 2 harking back to the colourful surrealism of the filmmaker’s 1970 film, El Topo.
Check out the trailer for the subversive western classic, below.