The Mighty Boosh, Brixton Academy, London

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The Independent Culture

In times of economic depression people have often turned to cabaret to take their minds off their woes.

However, the recent downward spiral for stocks and shares seems to have been mirrored by a lower rate of punch lines to the pound. Last week Steve Coogan's tour suffered from walkouts, while punters made their feelings equally clear this week towards the "over hyped" Sarah Silverman. Sadly, the latest live offering from The Mighty Boosh has failed to buck the trend of comedy's own credibility crunch.

The Boosh have always got by on charm and because they have taken their audience on fantastical journeys, meeting magical and psychedelic characters along the way. On television these characters can build up momentum, on stage their lack of depth is exposed The first half here is like a parade of them, with not one doing or saying anything noteworthy.

Rich Fulcher huffs and puffs as the brash zookeeper Bob Fossil to teach us some zany dance moves and soon after he returns as a crude, Fast Show-style, eastern European comic called Krakow who speaks accented gibberish. Later, Fielding's cockney miscreant The Hitcher stomps about to a song about eels ("Eels up inside ya/Finding and entrance where they can") and eulogises about how his backing band are all murderers and rapists.

While The Hitcher's own musical number is just an excuse for the Boosh boys to indulge themselves in a rock star fantasy, the many rock anthems in the second half confuse the issue as to whether the Boosh want to be a comedy rock band or a double act.

The few saving graces come from the dialogue between the two, when thin premises and their menagerie of characters are put aside. Highlights include Noir telling Moon that the show is sponsored by fashion guru "Jean Paul Jacketee" and that Jacketee's new perfume's strap line is: "You know who you are when you are you." Meanwhile, in response to Noir's questions, Moon's inner thoughts are exposed to the audience and we hear him think: "I've been doing nothing. I'm nearly 40. Soon I will be 50 and nearly dead."

The warmth generated in flashes by the two can't make up for what is ultimately a charmless offensive. I was told that Sarah Silverman was in tonight's audience (as The Boosh boys were in hers on Sunday) and I can't help but wonder if she might be feeling a bit better about her own lack of effort.

Touring to January 17 (