"BY the end of the show," Ross Noble told his audience on the first of his five-night run at the City Hall, "I’ll have gone off on so many tangents that I’ll have ripped a hole in the space-time continuum."
He wasn’t kidding. Spanning topics from Jimmy Savile to Schroedinger’s Cat, this was a masterclass in the seemingly random musings of a hyperactive brain, although there’s always the sense that he’s in control of where things are going.
It’s a notion borne of how well he copes when things don’t go to plan. References to Bruce Willis and moustachioed private detective Magnum fell flat, but no matter: Noble raised a big laugh by speculating that the audience’s lacklustre response to popular culture nods suggested he’d happened on a night out for the local Amish society.
Notorious for elaborate stage backdrops, Noble’s Mindblender set was impressive, featuring giant inflatable blender components to illustrate the circuitous journey the audience would be taken on.
While there were segments of scripted material, the best centred on Ross’ daughter and her penchant for sparkly plastic ponies, audience interaction formed the bulk of the show (woe betide anyone coming to a Noble gig late).
As a veteran of Ross’ Newcastle runs, I’m used to him getting odd heckles from his home crowd. Last night was no exception. A throwaway remark about Eddie Izzard’s marathon running during a set-piece on Jimmy Savile’s charitable endeavours earned him a shriek of dismay from an ardent Izzard fan who later admitted she’d proposed to the transvestite stand-up.
Noble dealt admirably with her subsequent barrage of heckles, yielding the funniest moments of the show with reflections on her career as a pastry chef. His description of a sausage-roll tiered wedding cake topped with pork pie sculptures of the bride and groom reduced the audience to hysterics.
There’s sometimes a sense that he’s left parts of his audience behind; mentions of 1980s Tyne-Tees presenters left the student contingent cold, and he lost me for 15 minutes during a routine about the recent Batman film, which I haven’t seen.
But the beauty of his stand-up is there’s always another tangent on its way that will hit the mark, and as usual I left his gig having been breathless with laughter at least once.
To buy tickets for Ross Noble’s Mindblender show, visit the Newcastle City Hall box office website at: http://newcastlecityhall.org/whats-on/