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Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

 This was the start of a big project for me. I was asked to produce props for Noel Fielding‘s first solo show for E4, Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. One of the first props was the Negative Banana. Where a normal banana would be yellow with black bits this was to be black with yellow bits. I had to be very careful when art working the banana to avoid it looking like like it was merely over ripe, in fact the punchline was to be that Noel thought it was an ordinary banana spray painted black.

  This is a peelable “Negative Banana”. For retakes the banana had to be able to be peeled time and time again. The white stick was there to secure a replacement banana, made of black fondant icing, for each take. The Golden Needle, used by the character Fantasy Man to repair the rift in the barrier between YouTube and YouPorn. Alas he and his travelling companion are too late to prevent all manner of filth from escaping, calling for Fantasy Man to resort to desperate measures.Fancy a game of Fish Finger Jenga? Mashed potato obsessed character The Audience will always be victorious as every finger is securely glued together. Tiny wigs a speciality. Speak-n-Spell voiced sidekick Andy Warhol manifests as a key and demands a hairpiece. Stir crazy King of the Beasts character Dondy Lion tries to send a postcard home to reassure his family that “it’s all comin’ together”. In the absence of postage stamps cockroaches will suffice, won’t they?

 Incidentally the larger cockroach was built round a Hexabug, a small vibrating toy that allows it to skitter about like a crazed insect. This device is a wrist mounted videophone that Noel uses to communicate with his landlord Secret Peter. The light flashes to warn of an incoming message and it can flip up to reveal a video screen, Secret Peter is composited onto the screen later in post-production. The brief was to design something that had a kind of retro-future look to it and I really enjoyed that part of making it. I had to keep reminding myself not to get too into it, “you’re not Jonathan Ive for God’s sake.” Fantasy Man’s Neon Bible: a compendium of his adventures. It had to be very light as it had to be held in a unicorn’s mouth for long periods of time. This meant that one of the crew, operating the unicorn’s mouth, had to hold it for long periods of time. A second one was made so that one of the characters could “karate chop” it in half. A desk top chest freezer large enough for a single Fab Lolly. The lolly is a resin prop too, studio lighting and filming in a heatwave would have turned a real ice lolly into a sticky mess. I think that these eggs desire a little privacy. A small wooden bed and bedding were needed for the two eggs that were in love. The eggs are real but with the yolks blown out and filled with resin to make them more robust. This guitar case, that has trapped rock act Lysergic Casserole since the late ’60s, was made by Steve Webster (if you have ever watched Harry Hill’s TV Burp you will have seen his ace prop work on a weekly basis). I was tasked with making the tiny models of Noel, Rich Fulcher and the Chopper that they were riding. Unfortunately the model was too heavy for the tiny motor in the bike to push it round the track. A last minute rebuild, some even tinier versions of Noel and Rich and some amazing little costumes crafted by Tania Chant from the costume team saved the day. Each figure is about 7cm high. A frisbee that doubles up as a Greek dipping platter and also has the face of Brian Eno. Every home should have one. I ended up making quite a lot of fake food for the show. The olives are cast in resin and artworked, the dips were plaster textured and painted to look like hummus and taramasalata and the pitta was real pitta covered in PVA to stop it from going mouldy Prop sausages cast in resin and artworked to look raw, half cooked and burnt. The three inevitable stages of barbecued food.Insane slapstick chefs Renny and Gaviscon obviously love paprika but they also cook food that even Heston Blumenthal would regard as “experimental”. Spaghetti and rocket lollies served in a policeman’s helmet. Tasty! Agent Provocateur hedgehog Helen Daniels has been trapped in the only cage that can hold her. Potato waffles.

 Noel’s landlord, Secret Peter, pretty much defies description but for long shots that would show his full stunted body I sculpted and cast in him latex. Noel’s head, wearing a mask made by make-up designer Christine Cant, would be composited onto the body in post-production.Even for the daredevil lychee the rule remains “Safety First”. He gets blamed for a lot, from James Joyce’s slow work rate to the stagnant nature of post-war British theatre but Ice Cream Eyes always has an excuse. The eyes were made by warming up some plastilene in an oven until it was soft enough to be scooped out with an ordinary ice-cream scoop. Left to cool it then became hard enough to mould and cast lightweight resin versions that could be worn like goggles.