My favourite comedians #2: Ross Noble

Photo credit: Brian J. Ritchie

Photo credit: Brian J. Ritchie

The logical follow up to my first favourite comedians piece on Billy Connolly would have to be Ross Noble, an improvisational stand up comedian from Northumberland in England. Those who have witnessed this genius in action will probably already know exactly why I say this – Noble’s most obvious influence is Connolly, but the comparatively young Noble takes the unplanned approach of Connolly’s comedy act to a whole new level, often walking on stage without a clue about what he is going to say, and then managing to keep the audience in stitches for hours and hours.

Ross Noble has developed a strong following both across the UK and also in Australia – as a matter of fact his wife is Australian, and he lived here with her for a while until their house and possessions were destroyed by the Black Saturday bushfires down in Victoria in 2009, at which point they moved back to the UK. As well as touring Australia and the UK almost every year, Noble filmed a travel documentary series in the same style as Connolly’s, mixing travelling around on his motorbike with clips of his stand-up in each town, and this series proved quite the hit here on television. This first clip is from a show of his in Canberra during that same tour, in which he shows his rather brilliant impressions of kangaroos and emus being dangerous to motorcyclists:

Noble has a great ability at rambling on and on about the same subject for long periods of time, but somehow keeping it funny. He once repeated the same phrase over and over, while slowly weaving a story together, for about five minutes simply because he said “hmmm I wonder how many times in a row I can say this?” At other times he will start stories, wander right off track, and an hour or so later manage to return to the story when the audience has almost forgotten about it. This next clip shows him able to talk about seeing faces on muffins for several minutes, and if anything it becomes funnier the longer he draws it out:

Perhaps one of the elements of his shows which is quite unique on the whole, and which his fans love the most, is his eagerness to involve the audience. Many of his shows begin with him talking to certain members of the audience, particularly if there are any unusual costumes being worn, or anything of that nature. Often during the intermission (because his shows are always a good two hours or longer), audience members will run up and put “gifts” on the stage which he will then spend some time of his second half perusing and discussing (someone once stuck a giant cardboard Kinder Surprise egg on the stage, and after asking audience members what he should do he sat on it in an attempt to “incubate” it). In this clip below, the audience is bouncing around a beach ball before he even comes on stage, and so naturally the ball becomes the focus point for the start of his show:

This final clip is taken from an arena tour he undertook a few years ago, in which he performed on a round stage with the audience around him. For many comedians this simply would not work, but with Noble being quite the active performer, darting around the stage like a lunatic, it works superbly. This five minute clip begins with a couple of references to earlier in the show which won’t make sense out of context, but very quickly he starts doing impressions of Barry White, before becoming distracted by…well I’ll let you find out – this one is really quite funny:

I’m hoping these four clips have given you a good idea of the sort of improvisational surrealist comedy to expect from Ross Noble, who, in my eyes, is clearly one of the best comedians living today, and with a very strong future ahead of him. If you do like him, he has eight live DVDs (all of which have ridiculous amounts of extras – one of them, Randomist, has four discs altogether, with three extra discs of shows and clips), his official channel on Youtube has dozens and dozens of clips (many of which were unseen when first broadcast on the site), and if you live in the UK or Australia he’s bound to tour very soon.

What are your thoughts on Ross Noble’s rather eccentric comedy? Would you see him live? Have you seen him live?

20 thoughts on “My favourite comedians #2: Ross Noble

    • Ahh awesome! That’s such a cool birthday present! πŸ™‚
      Thanks, I’m glad you liked this post! I’ve been enjoying writing these comedy posts so far, though I get stuck on youtube for hours watching clips before I actually decide on which ones to use. But I guess this isn’t really a bad thing πŸ˜‰

  1. Sorry – there was meant to be more than “ha!” in that last comment. It sounds a bit sarcastic by itself. Sorry.
    What I was going to say is that I love Ross Noble. He makes me laugh every single time I see him. I find his matter of fact attitude completely hilarious.

    • Glad to find another fan! He is just brilliant isn’t he? And I love that he tours so extensively, I mean, he performs IN Gosford. That is pretty cool. I mean I’m sure he does far dodgier places, but still πŸ˜› You can tell he performs because he loves making people laugh!

      • I have sadly never seen him live. I always find out that he’s performing somewhere nearby the week before the show, by which time it’s usually sold out or I have something else on. Maybe this will finally be my year!
        I think you can tell the true quality of an international comedy star, by the locations they perform in. He must truly have a great sense of humour to come to Gosford (jokes, of course!!).

        • Yeah, they tend not to advertise his shows too much. I follow him on Twitter so I’m going to keep an eye out there I guess – I’ll let you know if I hear anything! πŸ˜‰
          Actually, one of his clips online (one of the official ones too) is from Gosford, because he makes fun of it about four or so minutes into it:
          It’s also quite a funny clip…I kind of wonder if the people he’s talking to are people I know, hahahaha.

    • Ah yes, I have heard of Stitches but I haven’t seen it yet. I liked your review though – it sounds like the movie is just what I expected it to be. I’ll have to get around to watching it sometime! πŸ™‚

  2. Yes, Ross Noble is another comedian I really like – obviously our likes in humour have something in common. I like the new look blog, will it be okay if I print the picture of you (without the cloak ((sigh))) and blow it up to put on my wall!! Actually I’d better not it might spoil the magnolia paint.

    • Ahh it’s good to find so many of my readers do share my taste in comedians. I find it odd though that some people don’t like Ross Noble, I suspect they’re just jealous because they can’t make people laugh like that, hahaha.
      Thank you, I’m glad you like the new look! But yeah, don’t go spoiling your walls with the magnificence that is my drawing, I mean I know it took me several WHOLE minutes to draw that, but still. πŸ˜›

  3. I had an odd experience at a Ross Noble gig, I was laughing away at a joke about pumpkin legs, longer than most people laughed (it just really tickled me what can I say?), when the woman next to me shushed me. Obviously had the opposite than desired effect. That was the first time I came across someone who didn’t think he was that funny, although the shock still didn’t stop me from laughing :).

    • Wow, how rude of that woman! I figure if she didn’t find him funny, doesn’t give her the right to tell others to stop laughing – she should leave herself! But geeze how could you not find him funny, what a strange person haha. That must have been an interesting experience – I would have been like you and just kept laughing! πŸ™‚

      • I’m not entirely convinced she realised it was a comedy gig, perhaps she thought it was the opera, or a library…anyway there were shushings and tuttings throughout. On the plus side I now find the pumpkin legs bit funnier than ever πŸ™‚

        • Bahaha. Wow, it just amazes me that people go to comedy shows and act like that, maybe she really didn’t know it was a comedy event. I’ve been to gigs where people nearby have been drunk and started heckling the comedian, though if they’re good they’ll know how to shut them down quickly, and if they’re Ross Noble they’ll incorporate them into the show πŸ˜›
          Pumpkin legs hahahaha, goodness that man talks some rubbish πŸ˜›

  4. He is absolutely hilarious! I love the line about emus: ‘feather dusters with suicidal tendencies’ – Brilliant!

    If he ever came to this part of the world, I would definitely get tickets for his show. His physical comedy, his unique ability to find humour in any situation, and his energy would be something to see up close and personal! πŸ™‚

    • Haha yes, I think that is one of my favourite ever moments of stand-up from him, when he’s talking about kangaroos and emus. So funny.
      He is definitely worth seeing live, he is easily one of the best comedians in the world, though also one of the most underrated as he is only really known in the UK and Australia mostly.

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