One of the most talented stand-ups around, Ross Noble is having a mischievous dig at his peers on his latest tour.
His 21st solo tour Jibber Jabber Jamboree is headed to Aberdeen, and it is the follow-up to 2020-21’s Humournoid. The Geordie surrealist performs in front of a typically outlandish stage set, as he explains.
“The last one, the Humournoid one, that was a giant version of my head that opened up and had all LED wires and stuff in it, but this one I’ve gone for…the set looks like if you imagined a ruined temple but with my head and monkey gods with my head there, that’s what it is,” he rambles.
“And it’s got a load of vines that grow at the start of the show – as I walk on stage the whole thing grows. And then I never mention it for the rest of the show – and I’ve been doing that for years.
“It’s one of those things where, like if I go and see a show, it just sort of gives a nice sense of place. I love it and people are cottoning on to it now, but I used to get reviews that just went, ‘Well he had a giant castle on stage and he never mentioned it’.
“And you go, ‘Well, yeah, that’s the point!’ It’s, like, a bit Spinal Tap, isn’t it?”
Making things interesting
Setting off on a deadpan detour, the 47-year-old outlines how comedians slacking on their props need to up their game.
“You go and see stand-up and a lot of the times it’s basically just somebody with a stool, with a glass of water on stage, just holding a microphone,” he says.
“And I just think, come on, we’re in a big fancy theatre, let’s make this a bit interesting. It always makes me laugh that when you see stand-ups and they’ve got a glass of water on the stage and I just sort of think, ‘You’re only on for a couple of hours – what, you can’t go for that long without having a glass of water?’
“Before I turned 18 I don’t think I ever drank water. I don’t think it was ever a thing – we had cordial and a bit of juice.
“I just think it’s a bit odd when you go and see a stand-up and they tell a joke and then they stop and they take a glass of water, and you go, ‘Was that hard on your throat, was it, telling us about that?'”
Feted for his psychedelic stream of consciousness and trademark anecdotal juggling, reviews of Jibber Jabber Jamboree, which started in late-October, have stressed it’s quintessential Noble all the way.
Pointing out that heckling and conversations with his audience are always a big part of the funnyman’s routine, one critic noted that despite hilarious bouts of unbridled randomness, a recent epic show sagged for a spell due to the crumbs that theatregoers gave him to work with.
It seems, however, that freewheeler Ross turned it round – even if he ended up asking himself if his edgy material would finally get him “cancelled”, so close did he tread to the line of acceptability.
A unique talent
Death-defying comedic antics have marked Noble out as a unique talent since awards recognition started coming his way in the wake of his Edinburgh Fringe shows Laser Boy and Chickenmaster almost 25 years ago.
The big theatre tours have followed on a regular basis for the Australia-based star ever since, with only a bushfire that consumed his former home near Melbourne and the pandemic serving to hamper his triumphant UK returns.
Describing what lies in store for fans attending the upcoming show at the Music Hall on Thursday, he goes off on another of his self-parodying tangents.
“It will be a playful experience for young and old,” says Ross.
“Imagine watching someone create a magic carpet on an enchanted loom. Oh, hang on – magic carpets fly, that would smash the loom as it took flight.
“I haven’t thought that through. That’s what people can expect – razor-sharp observations on things I haven’t thought through.”
Reflecting on his touring exploits over the past quarter of a century, the father of two reckons it’s “bizarre” how his audiences seem to be growing younger.
‘One of those crazy things’
“It’s one of those crazy things – there’s people who came to see me when they were, like, just gone to university who are now bringing along their kids,” he proclaims.
“But I think with my stuff it’s one of them things where…I came up with a joke on the stage where I adlibbed one night, which was basically the young people got half of the joke and the old people got the other half – nobody got all of it.
“I said, ‘I went to a live Wild West show the other night. I was absolutely furious, Roy Rogers came in on his horse and there was no trigger warning’.
“That’s a great joke, right? You need to know what a trigger warning is, which the young people do, and then you need to know that Roy Rogers’ horse was called Trigger.
“There was a small smattering of people that were like, ‘That’s very good that’, and you could see them explaining it, and then one bloke went, ‘Hang on, wasn’t that the Lone Ranger?’
“No, that was Silver! So the rest of the show was basically an argument about whether the Lone Ranger rode Trigger or Silver.”