Q&A: Noel Fielding Misses His Old Pal John Oliver

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Noel Fielding Photo by Dave Brown

Noel Fielding Photo by Dave Brown

Following in the footsteps of his old pal John Oliver, British comedian Noel Fielding is heading across the pond as he embarks on his first U.S. tour, which stops in Boston this week.

As Fielding continues to grow his fanbase in America and around the world, the star of the hit comedy troupe The Mighty Boosh can’t help but look back at his early years. In particular, Fielding misses performing gigs alongside a much younger Oliver, who has since absconded from the U.K. to host Last Week Tonight for HBO.

“The first time I ever saw him, I was at an Oxford ball doing stand-up and he was in an ’80s cover band, like a comedy thing. It was like Spinal Tap,” Fielding says. “I’d love to see him again just to say hello because we were quite good friends.”

Check out what else Fielding had to say about Oliver, his thoughts on Donald Trump’s campaign, and more.

The Boston comedy scene and its rowdy fans are well known around America, but do they have any sort of reputation across the pond?

I know that it’s quite an idiosyncratic place, Boston. You have your own kind of vibe going on, so it will be interesting to see if it matches what we’re going to give you–which is pretty out there. It will be fun. I’m excited. You’ve got such a weird way of talking, a weird sort of Massachusetts accent, and sort of your own sense of humor anyways, so we’ll see.

You seem like the type of comic who has a million crazy stories. Got any tales from the road you want to share?

Having done stand-up for 20 years or whatever, I’ve done some pretty bad gigs. I did a gig once in Wales and they’ve been drinking all day, it was like their end of the year, big party. It was one of the worst gigs I have ever done in my life because they had been drinking since 10 in the morning and it was midnight when we went on stage. People weren’t just drunk, they couldn’t even speak. I think at one point I got carried around the gig by a rugby team. They were all dressed as Santa Claus. It was absolutely horrifying. It was like hell.

What do you think of John Oliver and his transition to the U.S. comedy scene?

It’s amazing the whole John Oliver thing because he supported me doing stand-up back in the day. Then he sort of went to America and that was it, he never came back. But he’s a lovely man. I’ve not seen him for like 10 years. It’s crazy.

So you guys used to work together?

Yeah, we used to do gigs together. He used to support me doing stand-up. He was always a good stand-up [comedian]. We did some dreadful gigs, actually, like university gigs when we were both starting out. The first time I ever saw him, I was at an Oxford ball doing stand-up and he was in an ’80s cover band, like a comedy thing. It was like Spinal Tap. That was the first time I saw him, he was playing guitar.

Then we both had the same agent years back, so we used to travel around and do gigs together. He’s a lovely man. But then it was kind of crazy because he came to America to do that one job and then Jon Stewart resigned, then he took off from there. I’d love to see him again just to say hello because we were quite good friends.

Of course I have to ask, since this is your first U.S. tour, would a Donald Trump presidency make you not want to come back here?

Over here [in the U.K.], we all thought it was a bit of a joke, but when we got here we realized he was doing quite well. We only really knew him from The Apprentice and obviously you know his name because he’s been famous for a long time… Obama had such an amazing thing as well. it was a brilliant, progressive sort of move to have him elected. Then you sort of think, well if you go from him to Trump, it seems like a step backwards. Such a step backwards.

Noel Fielding performs at the Wilbur on Thursday, March 10 and Friday, March 11.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/arts-entertainment/2016/03/09/noel-fielding-misses-john-oliver/