Opening a coffee shop on the rim of an active volcano in Hawaii seems a bold move, especially for a man whose CV lists only zookeeper and retail assistant as previous occupations. Yet, fellow barista and twentieth century icon, Andy Warhol, may have hit the nail on the head, forewarning that a potential second series of Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy could be underwhelming. Caught somewhere between conventional sitcom and surrealist sketch show, it ends up falling flat.
As to be expected from Fielding, the show is, if nothing else, a feast for the eyes. The garishly bright sets and hand-drawn animations certainly bring the bizarre creatures from the deepest section of Fielding’s subconscious to life, but what is done with them is wastefully mundane. The jokes placed in the mouths of these creations are unoriginal and recycled clichés, the juxtaposition of mundane and absurd is obviously meant to imply surrealism, but somehow just seems lazy. As a sitcom the show falls at the first hurdle, with a complete total lack of any plot producing a loosely connected show-reel of scenes that never go anywhere.
Absurdist comedy has been well established for half a century now, and you could argue we are desensitised to it. Crucially, however, surrealist comedy has always held an element of risk; it’s anti-establishment, an outsider’s form. In Luxury Comedy, there is no risk. Perhaps fault lies with the producers who have tried to rein the weird tangents in, or maybe after ten years on our screens Noel Fielding is now anything but an outsider. As with everything from 2005, he’s been co-opted into the establishment. Now entering his fourth decade, Fielding reminds us of that “fun” uncle we all have, who refuses to grow up and settle down. The type of bloke who still thinks Camden is where it’s at, counts Johnny Borrell amongst his best friends and honestly believes that appearing on stage with Kasabian is cool. But while the rest of us have moved on from the noughties and realised how crap the Libertines actually were, Uncle Noel hasn’t, and if he doesn’t soon then he’ll never be as trailblazing as he thinks he is.
Photo property of Channel 4