‘l'm hardly working dew
ROSS NOBLE doesn’t need sadness or badness to inspire his comedy: he’s just impossibly joyful and extremely grateful, he tells Johnny Regan. So what’s David Blunkett done to upset him?
success. and it kinda destroys them because they then
feel like they can't act the same as they did before they got the show on the television. I just keep on doing my thing. and the audience seems to grow with every passing year.‘ It's been an incremental rise to comic prominence for Ross Noble. and it has suited the 28-year-old comedian down to the ground. liawning critical acclaim may follow him around like a bad smell. btit Noble has concentrated on keeping his head firmly.
‘ I know a lot of comedians who achieve some level of
humbly down since beginning his career at the tender age of
IS. So positive are the critical soundbites on Noble‘s official website that a less personable comic may have allowed the media‘s perennial foisting of the title of ‘greatest new comic in Britain‘ to have diminished his comedic potency. Accepting greatness is one of the myriad pitfalls that face the young
comic. Many‘s the comedian that has pocketed a big bag of
cash from The Man. only to subsequently churn out l2
episodes of toothless nonsense at 8.30pm every Thursday on
Sky One. Bad decisions end comic careers. so let's be thankful
that this mercurial (ieordie has decided to take his time
working his way tip the slippery pole of public appreciation. This year finds Noble on the cusp of a significant expansion
in his audience. His Nomi/wireisler tour is
playing to sell-out crowds. and he‘s currently
on a two week tour of the Highlands -—
organised by the people from the Stand —
before coming to Glasgow and lidinburgh. He
then takes up residence at the Apollo Theatre
on London‘s Shaftesbury Avenue. Then there's
the imminent release of his I)Vl) (’nreu/rime.
which brings together all the best bits from last
year‘s tour of the same name. Other highlights
include an appearance on Jack Dee’s new
BBCI show and a host of writing and
performing gigs across Radio 4‘s acclaimed
comedy programmes. ‘l‘m in a really good position because I
haven’t got any of the downsides of the scene.' says Noble.
‘l’m selling out l()()()-seater theatres. and that level of
performance suits me.‘
So much for the theory that the strongest comedy springs from darkness: surely some deeply embedded unhappiness underpins Noble’s sense of humour‘.’ Perhaps. if he‘d been forthcoming with details of how a hidden tragedy conditions his life and comedy. we might have been able to entitle this article The Dark Side oft/1e Low: or something equally trite. But no. there‘s just a vast. silly. implacable happiness at the core of Ross Noble. In an age when the best known comedians divide their time between making us laugh and explaining in autobiographies how terrible their lives have been. it’s refreshing to hear someone extolling the infinite comic potential of contentment: ‘l‘m hardly working down a mine. am l‘.’ I dedicate my whole life to talking about things that are funny. Why should I complain? There are loads of things that
interest or annoy me about society. but the only way I can ever
engage with them is by taking the piss out of them. The key is not to take yourself too seriously. When you do. you become as bad as the people that you are making fun of. I am interested in serious subjects. and I covered a lot of them in my [urea/lime show. but you always have to remember that there's a line line between saying something interesting and just saying something because you like the sound of your own voice. At the end of the day. who gives a fuck about what I think?‘ Contrary to his apparent modesty. not everything that Noble
8 me last 12—19 Aug 200.:
says falls on deaf ears. and in fact the comic's placid exterior disguises a fountain of (albeit petty l disgruntlement: 'l)a\id Blunkctt‘s really annoying me at the moment. .-\II this stuff about making it illegal to be disparaging about religion. What a load of bollocks. .-\nd this thing about banning computer games. They’re trying to ban certain computer games because one kid went out and stabbed and hit another kid with a hammer. Surely we shotild be asking why this person had a knife and a hammer rather than checking otit what computer game he was playing." Noble also reveals his impatience with media platitudes that focus on his rapid—lire style. When he is discussed in the media. the phrases ‘freewheeling‘ or ‘strcam of consciousness. are trotted otit with weary ing predictability. and the Usual tnodc of comparison invokes ja//. a musical style that Noble has no fondness for: ‘l‘ve never listened to ja/ll I don't like jaw? The critics somehow always go on about my "freewheeling" technique and my “free ja//" style. If I‘m going to describe myself in musical terms. 1 would say that I am like Led Zeppelin being played on a sly lophonef
Noble needs no invitation to rubbish the idea that his comedy is technique-driven. ‘(ioing to see a comic and otin focusing on his technique is a bit like going to see a band and
being really impressed with the chords that the guitarist is playing. It‘s completely pointless. Journalists only write about these things. or focus on the negative aspects of a person's disposition or career becatise they‘ve already written about everything else in relation to that person. It's a boredom thing.‘ When asked to produce an alternative to the aforementioned tired media tag. Noble describes himself thus: ‘I see myself as a machine collecting material during the day. which I suppose. in this metaphor. would be called the fruit. and then. at night. I mash all the fruit tip and then spray the audience with a lovely. delicious. fresh juice. It's a line beverage. Sometimes it can leave a slightly bitter aftertaste. but mainly it tastes sweet.'
Those of you fortunate enough to have witnessed the Noodlemeister on stage recently will have been treated to such gems of wisdom as how to annoy three dwarves while running down the street. how to sculpt little versions of yourself out of your own droppings and the key to why children with Attention Deficit Disorder are so funny. Perhaps the greatest testament to Noble’s talent is the fact that he seldom has to delve too deeply into the realms of sickness to come up with strong material: neither does he have to rely on obscenity or offensiveness to make people laugh. His is a show constructed on the somewhat old-fashioned principles of astute observation. word-play and harmless good fun. ()ne joke. particularly characteristic of Noble's sense of humour. details how the human race hasn’t noticed the expansion of the universe because ‘space is black. and that’s a very slimming colour'.
So that‘s the 2004 edition of Ross Noble: a human juice- making machine. spraying his not-inconsiderable (and burgeoning) audience with liquid happiness: ‘Give it ten years and then I might have some great tragedy in my life. and be a hopelessly bitter old alcoholic. but right now I make no apology for the fact that I love what I‘m doing and I am having a great time doing it.~
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 15 Aug, 7.30pm. See Festival magazine for Edinburgh dates.