Ross Noble (Tour)
Ross Noble brought back memories of visiting my dear grandma, sadly no longer
with us. She had a legendary knack of starting to tell a story and then ending
up talking about something so far away from the original subject it needed a
visa and passport. The difference is that Noble always manages to find his way
back to the original point. Well, for a few seconds at least.
Noble himself is the first to acknowledge his flights of fancy, quipping that his mind doesn't just wander - "it goes on caravanning holidays to Rhyl". But what an amazing and intelligent brain he possesses, capable of unearthing brilliant comedy in a wealth of random subjects. Noble never needs to knock around an idea to extract the humour; like a stand-up Aladdin he grabs it, gives it a surreal rub, and out pours the comedy.
The genial Geordie is generally regarded as one of the hottest talents currently working the circuit. On the strength of his performance in Huddersfield, it's easy to see why. The mixed age, sell out audience laughed hard and in unison for most of the night, although as individuals we got our own quaking deep belly laughs from different parts of Noble's lengthy act.
As an icebreaker, Noble went for the tried and tested technique of poking fun at the local area. But thanks to his spontaneous creativity, he never once sounded like he was simply trotting out adapted versions of last night's jokes. For example, he extracted a brilliant and breathless twenty minutes worth of material out of the name of a local vodka bar - a theme he returned to skilfully throughout the evening.
For the most part, Noble's ad libbing works a treat. Sparking off audience comments and reactions, he has a wonderful knack of making sport from individuals without being offensive. There was the odd time where his seething brain wandered off down a blind alley, but Noble was always smart enough to realise this. Instead of digging himself a bigger hole, he deftly turned his randomness into a joke and reverted to his original thread.
Noble's routine is generally a tasteful affair; he was at his least amusing when he toed the lines of bad taste and controversy. It was also refreshing to witness a comedian who didn't litter his act with mindless profanities just for the sake of it. When the 26-year-old does eff and blind, he does it so politely you hardly even notice.
Throughout the evening Noble casually trotted out an excellent line in impressions, from the automated voice in the post office queue, to Arnold Schwarzenegger, to Johnny Vegas. His oral zest is accompanied by lashings of physical expression; one memorable digression lead to him being laid flat on his front just a few feet from the front row, relaying jokes from the world's smallest comedian. His very visual routine concerning the evolution of sheep into Al Jolson was clearly pre-rehearsed, but nonetheless had much of the audience creased up.
On the subject of scripted material, Noble's prepared patter does raise a few good laughs, but it's not half as sparky and inspired as his deluxe digressions. After delighting the audience with his spontaneity, it seemed rather strange to end both the second half and his encore with stock yarns.
With a total running time of over two and a half hours, Noble rather lost his momentum towards the end of the evening. His ploy of asking for questions from the audience didn't really work, producing a rather meek conclusion to an otherwise excellent night. But when you've got a mind like a tornado, it's bound to blow itself out every now and again.
With long locks flowing and flicking, an inspired Ross Noble in full improvisation mode is a treat for the eyes and ears. He may not yet be the finished article, but you should definitely check up on his progress next time he's in town.
Copyright J A Waddington 2003. For syndication rights, please email.
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