Ian Wolf

Gigglebox Weekly #35

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Gigglebox Weekly With Ian Wolf

This week Ian Wolf talks about a bottle being thrown at Russell Brand and an intriguing picture of Pele.

Late ‘n’ Live Guide to Comedy

Once again we come across another example of a great comedy programme that is only on in Scotland (thank goodness for the iPlayer). Late ‘n’ Live Guide to Comedy is a six-part documentary series about the Late ‘n’ Live comedy show at the Gilded Balloon venue during the Edinburgh Fringe.

For those who don’t know, this is a series of late night stand-up shows featuring several comedians performing on stage in front of an audience who are usually loud, drunk and willing to heckle at any given opportunity. To quote Jenny Eclair, the greatest error made when you’re try to avoid heckling at Late ‘n’ Live is when “you make the mistake of breathing,” and thus leave a short enough pause for someone to shout: “Fuck off!”

Other than learning about the history of the late-night show, the best thing about this documentary is watching some early stand-up performances by famous names. These include Johnny Vegas encouraging his audience to throw coins at him while he sang and Russell Brand in 2001, who at the time had only performed between 20-30 gigs. His stand-up involved deliberately angering and provoking the audience – what a surprise. But this lead to a storm of abuse and Brand getting an encore.

During the encore someone tried to throw a glass bottle at him. It missed Brand, but a shard landed in the leg of the next act, Fiona O’Loughlin, meaning she was bleeding when she went on stage…

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Noel Fielding’s new sketch show has been publicised widely – there’s not a bus shelter in my hometown of Stockton without a poster of Fielding in some bizarre costume.

When you watch the show it gets even weirder. Fielding is living in a treehouse in a jungle, with an aardvark butler (played by Noel’s brother Michael) and with Andy Warhol (Tom Meeten) as his cleaner. Then there are other characters played by Fielding, including a New York cop with a talking knife wound, a lion in a zoo going slowly insane, and a games teacher with shell shock – who is also a chocolate finger.

Normally I like it when comedians push at the extremes, whether it’s in terms of language, situation or realism/surrealism. However, Luxury Comedy appears to be one of those rather rare cases of going too far instead of not far enough. His earlier work, The Mighty Boosh, was itself bizarre and wonderfully funny, but also had the added advantage of Julian Barratt keeping things in control and from going too off the wall. This show is just bizarre, though – all surrealism and seemingly without comedy.

For me the best bit was seemingly the sanest, which was Fielding’s drawing of Pele holding a china cup and kicking what was either a ball or the saucer for the cup. I think it worked because at least you can connect the show with something that exists in the real world. The same is true with the ‘Warhol’ character.

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy is too far disconnected from anything recognisable to make it funny. A good piece of art perhaps – totally maverick – but that’s about it.