Watching a befrocked and luxuriantly-wigged Rich Fulcher bump and grind his way across the stage to a pumping strip-club techno beat last night, I realised that there is a third way between funny peculiar and funny ha ha; a “funny huh?” if you will, where you’re laughing your bottom off but you’re not sure why or if you should be. Fulcher's new show, An Evening with Eleanor: the Tour Whore, which opened last night at the Victoria Hotel is almost defiantly funny huh? 'til it hurts.
That Fulcher would be any kind of funny tonight was never really in doubt. His stall was well set out during his first memorable appearance as Bob Fossil in the Mighty Boosh explaining why he doesn’t like cricket. His Snuffbox partnership with Matt Berry, an equally deranged brandisher of non-sequiturs, did nothing to dissuade that Fulcher is the best kind of loony.
My principle worry was that on paper Eleanor the Tour Whore - damaged buxom serial groupie - is a slightly tired idea. A forty-something man in slap, frock and tights acting out his inner comedy slag is not really new. Eleanor is the American Pauline Calf, Lily Savage via LA; a foul mouthed, loose-knickered tart with a heart looking to shag every rock star on the bus. Even Joanna Lumley’s best efforts to out-drag every queen on the planet in Ab-Fab couldn’t hide the fact that this is an idea past its prime.
Fortunately there is more to Eleanor than post-modern drag. Several layers of Maybelline can’t hide Fulcher’s innate absurdity which shines through the pan stick even when he’s not saying a word (it’s in the eyes!) And when he does say words they are describing things like teenage mutual masturbation with Susan Boyle and a box of kitchen implements, proudly discovering tuna inside a Frisbee or haranguing audience members for attempted rape.
Boosh fans (and there were many) used to seeing their heroes on the small screen would have enjoyed the television-show feel of the evening. It’s An Audience With … style featured mock satellite feeds, pre-recorded fake adverts and lovely use of the audience in a purposely sabotaged Ask Eleanor Q&A section. Some ideas were undermined by a few first night technical gremlins, but Eleanor’s slightly increasingly drunk and slightly deranged glares (the eyes! the eyes!) and bitchy barracking of Dave the sound guy ensured people didn’t care for long.
Still for all his inspired silliness (listen out for a pearl about Eleanor's sea-fearing father) the joke had run out of steam by the time the hour was up. Whilst there’s clearly a bright and deliciously odd future ahead of Rich Fulcher, it’s hard to see Eleanor having a long shelf life. If you’d like to share the company of her particular pleasure best get yourself in line at the Victoria Hotel quick smart. She’ll be waiting….
Rich Fulcher is performing An Evening with Eleanor: the Tour Whore in the Banquet Room, Victoria Hotel, 215 Little Collins Street until 25 April. Shows Tue-Sat 9.30pm, Sun 8.30pm
Rich will be a guest on 3RRR's Lime Champions on Monday 29 March