Who: Ross Noble
Where: Thebarton Theatre
When: 15 and 16 March
Ross Noble tours Australia regularly, and his shows have become a bankable comedy show. He famously doesn’t write much for his shows, instead performing a sort of rambling, tangential improvised monologue (or even conversation – he chats with the audience constantly). We are treated to two hours (with an interval, or, as Noble calls it, a piss break) of the wildest anecdotes, tangents, imagined scenes, and audience heckles that Noble has become famous for.
The first half of the show was shaky. The audience for the night I saw were particularly aggressive: one woman at one point yelled at “GET ON WITH IT,” to which Noble replied that she was probably at the wrong show. At another point a group of hecklers starting chanting, trying to force Noble to do a Chinese accent for a little anecdote he was telling – Noble’s rapid response calling them out for being racist, and pointing out Australia’s tendency towards casual racism was excellent. Noble himself didn’t betray any sense of unease at the hostile audience, but it definitely made the first half a struggle for me to get into. Noble’s own claim that he was trying to be more P.C. (which he then didn’t quite live up to) was also a low point – comedians making fun of P.C. culture seems like an easy gag, at this point, particularly when others such Australia’s own Hannah Gadsby have done these jokes so much better. The second half, which seemed more structured, more focused on Noble’s ‘bits’ rather than audience interaction, was far more enjoyable, and passed quickly. Anecdotes about disposing of human ashes, and the perils of Deep Heat were met uproariously and demonstrated how good Ross Noble is at finding the humour in anything.
The improvised nature of Noble’s work means it is difficult to review – the show I saw may be very different to future shows in the same tour. I can’t help but feel that the price is a bit steep, but if you are prepared for a high-intensity comedy show that requires a fair degree of energy and imagination to follow, Noble is for you.