That Time I Interviewed Noel Fielding

19 Oct

noel

Very few men are as comfortable in a dress as Noel Fielding.

His sketch for the charitable initiative Comic Relief, where he danced “Kate Bush” to Wuthering Heights in her iconic red dress roused a giddy audience into near delirium, not to mention his fellow comedians who looked on in envy, awe and awkwardness.
Fielding has been the obsession of the British tabloids since 2004 when he and Julian Barrett converted their stand-up gig The Mighty Boosh to the small screen. A predominance of sequins, frequent cross-dressing and a tendency to slip into a psychedelic matrix instead of ordinary time projected Fielding into a vortex of fame.
“I mean I guess in England they probably think I’m some psychedelic sort of surreal character who lives in a Forest in a magic boot and rides a unicorn whilst taking drugs”.
Sadly he goes on to dispel the possibility that unicorns are real by adding “but I’m not really like the character they portray.”

On the phone he’s gracious and rambling, a rainbow of words come tumbling down the line and it’s hard to imagine he ever sleeps or eats or stops at all – a creative Niagara Falls. Though highly imaginative he’s also surprisingly succinct and the reductionist Peter Pan trope people assume of him fails to make sense of someone so in control of his own creativity. He’s bravely hewed a niche, like Monty Python before him, where absurdity is legion and yet he’s considerate of his audience’s limitations:

“I try and get the audience onside with charm and skill before I totally freak them out. I always want to bring the audience on a journey really… the analogy I make is you’re on the boat and everyone’s on the shore and you’ve got to get them onto the boat and take them on a journey and sometimes half the people get on, sometimes everyone gets on and you have a brilliant trip, and then sometimes only a few get on and everyone else sort of throws stuff at you from the beach.”

Getting on the boat requires a willingness to suspend worn patterns of thinking but what else is art for if not to press us into different shapes than we were before?

CODA- this was originally written for and then almost entirely rejected by Metro Magazine (a few tiny fragments of my original writing remained). After accepting the haphazard preference of editors (to be fair, they had made me rewrite it once and made it much better as a result) I figured I’d put the whole thing out there, including more quotes, for people to read. I love Fielding, and the chance to speak with him was a great excitement and privilege.

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