Ross Noble review: Unrealtime

Ross Noble first performed at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival to an audience of 30 people. Several visits later and Noble now needs the 900 seat Sydney Theatre complex at Walsh Bay to house the hoards of people who come to see him perform.

As he wanders onto the bare stage, Noble admits to the crowd that he never quite knows how to start a performance – apart from the disclaimer “This is probably not the most linear show you’ll ever see”.

That’s putting it mildly. Anyone else with Noble’s approach to life would be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and put on medication. But Noble has embraced his kaleidoscopic view of the world and moulded it into a thoroughly entertaining talent.

Almost instantly, some sound or movement captures Noble’s attention and that is all the kindling he needs. And when Noble begins playing with a thought, give him room. A fragment of an idea rapidly snowballs into an entire routine, be it cross breeding pigs with unicorns to create weapons of mass destruction, or restaging ‘The hunt for Red October’ using the Submarine permanently moored in Darling Harbour.

Noble’s whole  performance is like that of a jazz ensemble. Any one of the half dozen concepts floating in his head can suddenly take centre stage and be carried to its illogical conclusion, whilst the others are juggled simultaneously in the background, awaiting their turn.

What would be a solid five minute set for any other comic, is nothing more than a passing thought to Noble and unlikely to be heard of again. That’s because thoughts infect Noble at a relentless pace. You get the feeling that he’d would be talking about all of this whether the audience was there or not. Noble also takes on the physicality of every idea that comes to him. It’s a lethally funny combination and the audience loved every moment of it.

Along the way there are breaks where Noble takes in new stimulus from the crowd and also imparts snippets from his own life. We learn he has married an Aussie girl and, as a result of doing so, has picked up her swearing habits. But on the plus side, it has given him the chance to cultivate a decent Aussie accent.

And as soon as Noble can do the accent full time, we need to claim him as our own. Because for sheer comedic talent, Noble has no equal.

This article first appeared in Drum Media in 2004.

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