Live Review: Ross Noble, Eventim Apollo, W6

At one point during Ross Noble’s gig he pointed out something important: “I am contractually obliged to follow an idea as far as it will go.” Suddenly everything made sense. Noble’s brain is simply hardwired to channel maximum lunacy.

His latest show Brain Dump feels like a return to form after a few tours where one could start to see the joins between the scripted material and the trademark freeform bouncing off the audience. I could quite possibly be wrong but it felt like there was a lot more of his trademark impro here with just a few established routines peppering the set and it seemed to add a seat-of-the-pants thrill to proceedings.

Noble certainly hit the ground running, spotting one man wearing black gloves and concluding that he was an off-duty kidnapper. He then spotted a woman wearing a poncho, which was as good a cue as any for some Trump-based Mexican wall gags. Yes, even Noble is doing Trump and Brexit gags this year. 

He then struck real comedy gold. After a riff about punching other people’s children in playgrounds (don't ask) he picked on a latecomer looking at their phone, who had missed the spectacular all-singing all-dancing no-phones film at the start. She turned out to be a child protection social worker…

You couldn’t, as they say, make it up. But that’s exactly what Noble does for over two hours. The stage set consists of piles of light bulbs which reflect the light bulb ideas Noble is constantly having. When he is on form as he was on this occasion it is a mesmerising sight. I’m not quite sure how he not only manages to hold so many thoughts in his head but also manages to spot someone doing the “thigh slalom” and squeezing along row right in the middle of the stalls and make a joke out of it.

The second half of the set maintained the high standard as he built to a slightly more structured climax (excuse the word climax - Noble himself also seemed to be hooked on accidental innuendo last night. At one point he mentioned that the previous night he was almost sucked off the stage by the film screen flapping and had to pause to giggle before he could continue).

I don’t know if it was a conscious effort to avoid old tropes but he felt fresher than he has for a while. No wizards. No monkeys. No ninjas. Instead he recommended watching old people swimming - much more fascinating than a nature documentary and had advice on how to annoy couples having noisy sex in the hotel room next to your room. During the encore he revealed that he has had a vasectomy. I guess you could say that there was a vas deferens between this show and his recent outings.

Ross Noble is on tour now. Dates here.

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