I see rather more of Ross Noble than expected on the 1 June. In our first meeting of the day he is half naked.
To reassure his lady, fear not, the comic was not trying to make another human baby child with me. I’m waiting for the writer Tom Anderson to finish typing his latest Academi blog when suddenly Tom has stopped screwing his face up in confusion at his laptop screen and is instead loudly exclaiming, ‘quick look there’s a half naked man behind you.’ He knows me too well, immediately I turn around to be faced with Ross Noble’s bum cheeks. He was changing his trousers in the middle of the festival’s busy Green Room. Noble apologises, but he needn’t have, I’ve had worse afternoons.
Later I join the winding queue and follow people politely following chalk arrows into the big capacity venue for Ross Noble’s stand up gig. The crowd is huge (2,000 plus) and a very mixed bag of fruits. When Ross falls into the spotlight he is a little perplexed by his audience, by the gig, by the venue – ‘Barclays Pavilion of Wealth? It is not a pavilion, it looks more like a big tent to me’ – it throws him off kilter at the start and the set remains a tangled meander across his mind, like a kid with ADHD who can’t stay on topic for more than a minute. He keeps getting magpie-distracted by shiny things – running across the stage pretending to be Richard Dawkins and shouting ‘Jesus is bollocks’; the people in reflective outfits (aka the stewards). ‘Are you alright, illuminous people?’ he asks a crowd who he claims stare back at him ‘petrified and blank’. A woman called Mark shouts ‘Wonderful!’ She isn’t one of the illuminous people, her outfit, at least on the outside is not illuminous. This suggests to Ross that she must be wearing bright underwear, reflective strips between her own bum cheeks (there is a theme emerging here… just try and spot it). He bounds about stage like a puppy on pills and we get animated skits about health & safety approved sexual activity, getting impaled on bed knobs – ‘Spin him round, spin him round’.
Later, in the ‘wig wam of dreams’, ‘last of the summer wine’ or ‘the gates of troy made by big kids’ Noble gets into his stride. The sexual acts move on to the problems of having sex with a ghost like Patrick Swayze and then sexy vampires and impracticalities of coffin sex – the satin inlay, getting your bum cheeks stuck in the narrow bit. He also demonstrates how you play the Google Phone – iPhone’s new ‘rival’ or a German brass instrument, he does the actions, and you can bet at least part of the audience go home and have a go at it themselves, perhaps while having sex, he demonstrates how that is possible to. Although you’d find it difficult in a tent, so wait until you get home campers.
Back to the variety of the audience then… Ross pleases me my kicking up a fuss at the ridiculous name of the venue and their tagline ‘Wealth is Knowledge’. Tells customers to use it against their bank. Suggests we turn up at Barclays with a piece of trivia and see if we can cash it in, or clear our overdraft. Tell them the average size of a killer whale and then tell them to f off with their charges and menacing letters. Noble claims that he expected to come out on stage and be greeted by a room full of tweed. Uses CS Lewis in a gag and is amused that the whole room know who he is and don’t think he means John Lewis, the department store like they do in most of his gigs.
He addresses the front row, locals who are neighbours, one works in Farming Insurance. Against what? Are there farmer gangsters? Imagine a drive by shooting. In a tractor. The Wurtzels come into it, and brand new combine harvesters.
He also talks of his human baby child. They come in two types, he has the girl version, and she’s called Elf. Children, according to Noble, are basically suicide monkeys and your role, as parent, is to distract the suicide monkey from the danger they are attracted – hot things, spikes, sheer drops – with shiny objects. He worries that when he explains what he does for a living to her: ‘Speaks a lot of bollocks to people, and that makes them happy’ she’ll reply ‘oh, are you The Pope then?’ Luckily the audience know better, laugh, clap.