Noel Fielding, one half of The Mighty Boosh, returns to television in a seven episode series that, despite its random, manic nature, seems a little more focused than his previous effort.
The ‘straight man‘ in a comedy tries to stick to the plan and get the work done, while the ‘clown’ character gets in the way. Depending on your prediliction, you’ll either laugh at the clown messing everything up, or at the straight man being endlessly frustrated. In The Mighty Boosh, Fielding was the clown and his partner Julian Barrat was the straight man. Interestingly, that dynamic remains in Luxury Comedy; except that the straight man isn’t there, leaving the clown to descend into total chaos.
The single biggest difference between this and Boosh is that this is a sketch comedy show, while the other was a sitcom (though a random one). Having seen what Fielding does when left to his own devices, you can imagine that Barratt was the one in the Mighty Boosh writer’s room saying, ‘maybe this episode should have a point?’
Having an actual story resulted in the MB achieving the extreme ends on the hit-or-miss dial. Longer stories allowed some concepts to be stretched to their limits, mined for all their comedic potential, rode hard and put away wet. At the same time, it left some less workable ideas to linger on the screen for 30 minutes longer than they should have.
By contrast, Luxury Comedy, as a sketch show, distills Fielding’s ideas to their essences. It’s still hit or miss (just like all comedies ever written), but by not allowing them to drag on, LC can focus on whatever small parts of them may work, if only a little.
That said, there are more hits than misses. I loved the opening and ending bits, both involving Fielding’s primary persona in the series. The extended piece about Noel’s artwork, and people’s reactions to it, was the highlight of the episode. The low point was probably the cooking segment, which seemed to rely more an funny costumes than characters.
All in all, its a funny show that will definitely appeal to fans of The Mighty Boosh (watch for a brief cameo from one of that series’ recurring characters). With no disrespect to the great Julian Barratt, Fielding has proved with Luxury Comedy that he is more than capable of standing on his own.