What a mighty boosh you have!

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“If Salvador Dali, Dr. Seuss and Douglas Adams had ever cracked open a bottle of Absinthe and written a sitcom, It might have turned out something like this”

Radio Times

The Mighty Boosh is like an appendix or a daddy long-legs; nobody quite knows why it exists but it just does.  I had heard that trying to understand the series was pointless and simply absorbing its nonsensical nature was the key to optimal enjoyment (the writers themselves admitting this too). I strapped myself in and cleaned my eyeballs in preparation for Boosh, just as I was told on the DVD cover.

A wannabe-professional jazz musician and a sunshine kid are the protagonist’s as scribbled by the actors and writers themselves.  A flamboyant Noel Fielding and more-geography teacher guy than chic Julian Barratt embrace the screen with very little acting ability needed; an old-school Morecambe and Wise kind of combo but with a futuristic twist not quite within this world but from somewhere within the ‘zooniverse.’

Behind all the neon and glitter lies a basic cliché that has been known for years. The two comedic opposites on their day to day business in an out spill of clashes which is at times outright hilarious. When Jazz meets punk and misunderstood meets worshipped, it takes us partly on our journey to what The Mighty Boosh is but not far enough. The Mighty Boosh is far from simplistic or any classic tale I have seen before.

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Anthropomorphisms push this sitcom off its trolley and somewhere closer to Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. Crack foxes and a sarcastic pink bladder isn’t everybody’s cup of tea but The Mighty Boosh isn’t afraid to jump overtly to a Mad Hatters idea of heaven. Maybe it tries too hard to be surreal? Or maybe an enigma in Adidas trainers is the natural fruit of Fielding and Barrett’s brain? I really want to believe it is the latter.

The lovechild of Fielding and Barrett, the Boosh series has evolved through theatre to radio and launched its trendy self in style onto the BBC in 2005. Despite initial worries of how the popular oddball cult could be adapted to screen it was commissioned simply because there was nothing like it. The three series were unique in that it celebrated a sort of kitsch approach to props and scenery. All filmed in one studio it shouted from the rooftops that it didn’t care about reality or any normal approach to doing things. In fact it had a more gaffer tape than expensive latex methodology and this soon became one of the shows unique features and selling points. Who needs a lifelike cobra when you have got a pair of American tanned tights, some paint, a coat hanger and an unsettling pair of contact lenses?  Genius.

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With the contribution of legendary producers Of the likes of Gavin and Stacey and Ideal on board The Mighty Boosh was arguably always destined to be a cult.  Its tight knit cast made up of family, friends and even Fielding’s postman all very clearly having a fun and colourful time on set makes for what I believe to be a contagiously and addictively enjoyable show to watch. The script roles off the tongues rhythmically where timing is everything but pulled off to the smallest detail.  Well just like Hitchcock they have the advantageous insight to the character in that the actors themselves developed the script and that’s when they follow the script. Even without research its obvious to the audience that the script is often adlibbed. It seems the crew was always intent on creating a nonsensical approach or maybe it’s just the way that the misé-en-scene rolled?

It’s safe to say that the Mighty Boosh is one of a kind, although it takes influences from the likes of Monty Python and The league of gentlemen it is predominantly atypical of its genre, or any genre as some would say.  Just as you think things cannot get any weirder the Boosh has a very special motif known as crimping which strangely seems to work as a selling point with little songs about everything from jigsaw puzzles to bouncy castles. Think of Freddie Mercury’s Bohemian rhapsody and your getting there.

The Boosh is a key example of how the needs of audiences have changed.  The outlandish styling has drawn in a primarily younger adult audience but has also left many mothers and fathers want to steal their kids’ copy too when they’ve popped off to bed. Surrealism simply sells. As much as people like to feel part of a fan base community it appears that some equally like to see themselves as ‘alternative’. Perhaps we are becoming an independent nation where we want to stick it to the norms and think for ourselves without being told what is normal television and when to go to bed?  Perhaps being alternative and standing out from the crowd is cool? Unfortunately for those with this mindset Boosh is hugely popular so to like it isn’t really alternating much. As an audience we probably want to believe that we gravitate to the shows quirkiness but it is easy to think at times that the show tries hard to adjust to what the audience wants no matter how little sense that makes. Or maybe its just nice to escape to something completely bonkers.

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