Shiny Shelf


The Mighty Boosh

By Eddie Robson on 15 February 2005

A little belated, this review, as the CD came out last November – but as it didn’t exactly emerge in a blaze of publicity, allow us to build a little hype.

I didn’t see ‘The Mighty Boosh’ on TV, as I don’t get BBC3 and it had a terrible timeslot on BBC2. But Mark did see it and, in lieu of a DVD, Jim lent me this CD – a radio series made for an obscure timeslot between the sport on BBC London Live, and eventually picked up by Radio 4. I have become completely obsessed with it. I’ve just removed my Minidisc copy from the player (yes, I still use Minidisc, which I realise is practically retro in this iPod age) and realised that I’ve listened to nothing else for two weeks.

For those of you who caught the TV show, the format is more or less the same, revolving around the misadventures of two zoo-keepers, Howard Moon (Julian Barrett) and Vince Noir (Noel Fielding). Given that the humour is heavily surreal, the choice of locale is inspired: animals are arguably the best subject matter for surrealism. The only serious challenger for that epithet is food. I have some theories as to why this is, but I shan’t bore you with them.

What’s really impressive about this series – which Barrett and Fielding also wrote – is that it’s full of radio jokes. This is not the work of two men who see radio as a stepping stone to television. It displays great affinity for the medium: a scene such as the one where Howard rides a porpoise, or where Vince’s scarf gets caught in the wheels of a car, just wouldn’t work on TV. (Possibly in animation.) There also seems to be a lot of improvisation, which is much easier to do when working with the lower overheads of radio. Mark noted that the budgetary restraints of the TV show sometimes fell short of the duo’s unruly imaginations, and that doesn’t happen here.

In the way that The Mighty Boosh’s world morphs and twists as each episode’s plot rambles onwards, they are worthy of comparison with the BBC’s all-time great radio comedy, ‘The Goon Show’. Barrett and Fielding further add a joyful exploitation of the forty years’ worth of sci-fi and fantasy clich?s that have become embedded into our culture since the age of the Goons, and some excellent use of music (some of the songs are great in their own right: I often catch myself singing ‘Trapped in a Box by a Cockney Nutjob’).

As noted, the Boosh have indeed moved to TV now: deservedly so, and good luck to them (a DVD of the first series is due out when the second airs in the autumn). But these six radio episodes deserve to be treasured in their own right.

Click here to buy ‘The Mighty Boosh’ from Amazon.co.uk.


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By Eddie Robson




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