After a two year break, abstract comedy cavalier Ross Noble is back with a brand new live show, promising tangents and pontificating. Victoria Nangle chats with him over a breakfast of jelly snakes about Dave, riding bikes and a GCSE in PE.
“Hi. Sorry, I literally just this moment put a jelly snake in my mouth (mouth full)”
That’s quite American isn’t it, calling it jelly?
“No no no, it’s not Jello, it’s jelly like a sweet.”
Oh, so not jam.
“No not jam no, I don’t know how you’d make a jam snake. You’d have to put it on bread and then roll it out.”
Like an elaborate pastry.
“Well you know, you can have that if you want, take that to Dragons’ Den now. It’ll make you a fortune.”
(laughing) Do you have any kind of rough form
to the new show?
“Well you know I’ve been living my life and then stuff’s been going into my head and yeah, stuff will come out you know and it’ll be funny.”
The way you say that makes it sound like there’s a notepad in the back of your head that’s saying: ‘yeah, I like that one’.
“Yeah it’s weird because I think there’s some comics that go around going ‘that’ll do’, you know mentally noting things. But everything I make a mental note of I usually forget about, and it’s all the other irrelevant stuff that I wasn’t logging at the time that just kinda comes out and I go ‘oh yeah, yeah that’s alright that!’.”
Your show has always been very organic, is that fair?
“Yeah, yeah. Well the best moments, if you like, are when you’re in that moment and everyone’s like at the same point and right there in that moment, and it’s all about trying to get to that really. You know, just trying to get to that point where it’s not just a bunch of people sitting there listening to me, I’m just kinda orchestrating. We’re all trying to tune people into what’s going on in my head and tune into what’s going on in their head and then meeting in the middle you know, rather than just standing there and either telling them about stuff they already know or rattling off a load of things and they’re like ‘oh yeah, uh huh’.”
How do you prepare for your shows, before you go on stage in that kind of intermediate time?
“Ah well, people always take the mickey out of me because I sort of like… I can be stood there, basically I change my shirt and put on a new pair of trousers. That’s the game, but I can be right up to the minute before I go on stage having a chat with somebody and my tour manager can go ‘right you’re starting in a minute,’ and I’m like ‘alright fine’ and then just stroll through, you know. There’s no great kind of… I get warmed up, I stretch my legs because if I don’t then I start dancing around and throwing myself around on stage and pull a muscle or get a crick neck, and wonder why I can’t look off to the right. I just kind of loosen myself up and then on I go, you know.”
You’re doing TV stuff like more panel shows these days, too.
“Yeah well I mean with the TV stuff, it’s tricky because it’s one of those things. I’ve only done Have I got News For You, and for years I didn’t do QI… but the problem is I’ve only done two panel shows but they’re on Dave so much, and people go ‘I saw you on that Mock the Week, you’re amazing’, and it’s just this constant. It’s mad that you can be like a regular face on telly and only record like four or five nights of the year.”
“Thanks to Dave, you can become a TV regular without doing any work at all”
But you have a distinctive face.
“Yeah but you know people say ‘oh he’s a regular’ and you go ‘blimey’. If I wanted to, I could just do that and then just leave. Thanks to Dave, you can become a TV regular without doing any work at all. It’s mental you know. I love doing the radio, it’s that freedom. Apart from Have I Got News for You and QI, there are very few programmes where you get different lengths of time to actually go off on one, to actually explore ideas and that sort of thing. It tends to be that they want to edit it quite heavily whereas radio just lets you, you know. The last radio series I did was six half hour stand up shows and on telly they want to format things whereas on radio they’re like ‘yeah yeah just talk for half an hour’.”
If you had a week off suddenly, apart from seeing your family, what would you do with that week off?
“Ooh! I drive motorbikes, that’s what I do when I’m not working or seeing the family. I go off racing dirt bikes.”
You used to live in Australia, do you think you’re properly settled here or will you ever go back?
“No I think we’re here now, I think that’s us. The next thing I want to do, well there’s a couple of things actually, the next big thing is there’s a race out in Africa, in the Kingdom of Lesotho, it’s a thing called The Roof of Africa. Yeah, that’s the next thing I want to do bike wise, so if I could do anything apart from working or seeing my family it would be going to Lesotho.”
What did you want to be when you grew up?
“Stuntman, stuntman. Yeah I was all set to do that. The only reason I didn’t become that is I didn’t know how to get into it. Like, I asked these teachers, ‘what do I need to do to be a stuntman’ and they all said ‘well you have to get your GCSE in PE and then go to college’, but I hated PE. I mean I’m sure it’s different now for kids, you know it’s more like Jackass. You know it’s one of the things, because I hated playing sport but I loved throwing myself off things and jumping off moving bikes onto skateboards and thought, well, I wasn’t gonna spend years playing football just so I can do that. Also, like, there was a while where I thought I’d get spotted. I thought like
a Hollywood producer would see me jumping off something and be like (in an American accent) ‘that guy’s gonna be in a movie!’”
What would happen if someone asked you to be the next James Bond – would you say ‘Yeah, I’ll do a bit of acting as long as I can do that bit of stunt work’?
“Of course yeah, totally yeah. Well the film I’ve just done (Stitches) is coming out at Halloween. Yeah I was a nightmare for the stunt co-ordinator because he’s going: ‘right, you’re gonna fly over here and land on the mat’, and I’m like: ‘don’t worry about the mat, it’ll look better if I land on this bit here, it’s alright’.”
What’s your favourite live gigging memory?
“I probably haven’t got like one memory. There are various gigs where I’ve taken the whole audience and we’ve left the venue and gone off and run amok on the streets, they’re always good fun.”
Do you enjoy playing in Brighton?
“Yeah I love it, I absolutely love Brighton. My wife, she’s an Aussie, when she first came over to the UK she just fell in love with Brighton and then we’ve always made a weekend of it if I’ve been playing down here. I think it’s just such an eclectic mix of people, it’s London by the sea really isn’t it?”
Ross Noble – Mindblender, Concert Hall, Brighton Dome, 9 & 10 October 2012, 8pm, £25, 01273 709709, www.brightoncomedyfestival.com
Photo credit: Andy Hollingsworth