Comin’ at ya like a hammock

My world has been rocked by The Mighty Boosh.

The only thing worse than being late to the party is being five years late to the party. And the only thing worse than that is being five years late to the party and still telling everybody how cool it is. But I’ve been semi-obsessed with “The Mighty Boosh” over the past couple of weeks, and now I have to come across like the goon who just discovered it through adult swim. My pop culture street cred, which was already perilously close to empty, is now at an all-time low.

It’s not like I have an excuse, either. I’ve had the episodes for a while, but wasn’t that interested. It was recommended by friends at work and online because I’d been going on about “Darkplace” (which I did find out about via adult swim) and the brilliant “The IT Crowd” (Boing Boing), and there’s a ton of cross-pollination of actors among the three shows. (Richard Ayoade, Matt Berry, and Alice Lowe have appeared on all three; Julian Barratt of “The Mighty Boosh” was a regular on “Darkplace” as the Padre, and Noel Fielding was on “Darkplace” as an ape, and was one of the funniest recurring characters on “The IT Crowd” as banished goth middle manager Richard [Richmond, not Richard. I’m American; I’ve got no idea what these people are saying half the time]).

But I checked out this clip from the first series and dismissed it. It was funny, but I just thought: Oh, like “Flight of the Conchords”, then. And ignored it until I was stuck on a 10-hour plane flight with nothing but my phone to entertain me.

Thanks to the internet, I can show you the exact scene that got me hooked on the series:

But clips don’t really tell you what makes the show work. Actually: watching the show doesn’t really tell you what makes the show work. The only thing it shares with “Flight of the Conchords” is that they’ll frequently lapse into fantasy music videos, but then they never quite pop into reality. And it’s not a sitcom, since in the 3 series I’ve seen there are only two or three instances of what I’d call “jokes.” It’s more of a stream of consciousness that somehow manages to be memorable even when it doesn’t quite work (like, for instance, a monster made of sandpaper who wanks to furniture catalogs).

I saw some blurb that compared it to H.R. Pufnstuf, and that seems like a good jumping-off point. Just take Sid & Marty Krofft’s body of work, remove any pretense of kid-friendliness or connotations of the vaudevillian Ruth Buzzi/Charles Nelson Reilley/Harvey Korman crowd, add in every musical development of the last 40 years and what’s been going on with British comedy teams for the past 10 years or so, and then toss in everything that’s been going on in the visual pop arts for the past 30 years for the heck of it.

Plus the guys are obscenely talented, for all the deliberately-cheap aesthetic of the show. On top of all the characters, they do the animation themselves, as well as at least one new song in each episode. And if that doesn’t stick with you, then they’re not above using earworms to bore themselves into your consciousness. And that’s not even mentioning the crimping.

One minute you’re watching a British comedy series trying to put your finger on exactly what it is that makes it funny, and the next thing you know, you’re waking up with “Future Sailors” stuck in your head. Before long, you’ve watched all the episodes for a third time through and are now scouring YouTube for interviews and bits from the live shows. The title of this post is from a clip from a stand-up performance way back in 2001, their funniest live bit I’ve found on YouTube.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go edit together my own fan video from clips and interviews and magazine photos, as soon as I can decide which one I think is the dreamiest.

7 thoughts on “Comin’ at ya like a hammock”

  1. Watching this show right before I go to sleep has proven to be a bad idea, because some episodes just freak my shit out. Like the one with the Crack Fox. That dude was one of the most insane things I’ve ever seen, and it haunts my dreams to this day.

  2. He wasn’t that bad; he just made a tummy shame. On account of his diet: Head & Shoulders, toothpaste, and shit. Big pieces of shit. Considering how many of the episodes are based on the idea “They meet a freakish monster who wants to rape one of them,” it’s amazing they’ve managed to change it up so many times. I still say Old Greg is the creepiest.

    To get into my usual tedious over-analysis mode: I think I would’ve stopped at “like The Wind in the Willows, if one of the animals went to London and became a crack addict.” I guess part of the genius of the show is that they know how to set it up where all the references are implicit, and the interesting parts are how they spin it from there.

    And yeah, watching them before bed is a problem. It’s all got that weird dream logic anyway, so it lingers after you wake up and you spend the rest of the day with a song hook going through your head.

    Has adult swim aired the one about Howard’s birthday party yet? That’s my favorite one.

  3. And I’ve seen that mod wolves clip a million times but never noticed that their scooter headlights are wolf eyes.

  4. I just spotted Noel Fielding on “Darkplace” as the ape Dagless chases on bicycle. Does England not have more than around 8 or 9 comedy actors?

  5. No, England only has the 10 or 11 actors and they’re all connected to Graham Linehan. I recommend “Big Train”, “Look Around You” and “The Day Today”. I ordered them all from Amazon UK, on account of me having a dual region DVD player.

    “The Mighty Boosh” is my 7 year old niece’s favorite show. I gave it to her for her birthday because I’m the coolest aunt ever. This is in place of me getting her pot on her 16th birthday.

  6. Ah, thanks for the recommendations. “Look Around You” is pure genius. I’ll have to check out the others now.

    That makes at least 6 British series I want to watch that don’t have passable US DVD versions yet. Looks like it’s time to turn that old Mac Mini into a dedicated Region 2 DVD player.

  7. it’s great you finally watched it Chuck. A friend ioc gave me the DVDs but it took me a year to watch them. When I did I couldn’t believe I’d waited that long. I love season 2.. That is just so abstract. Nanageddon for example-you know nothing off the crunch! I love your attempts at describing the show.. I’ve had similar difficulty. I’d say it’s a surreal comedy. Some people I’ve showed to love it where others hate it.

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