Ross Noble: Sonic Waffle

Note: This review is from 2002

Review by Steve Bennett

Expectations are always high with Ross Noble.

He's an enviable and well-deserved reputation for spontaneous brilliance, spinning funny and fanciful tales from the smallest of details.

And he doesn't disappoint here with another dizzying display of improvisational pyrotechnics.

After a typically far-fetched intro, describing how he became a radioative fridge-boy, kung-fu monkey slayer, Noble bounds on stage for his trademark high-octane riffing, sparked off by the slightest things in the audience.

He produces such inspired punchlines from the most bizarre premises, so precisely formed yet genuinely unexpected, that it's hard to believe that he's making it up as he goes along, although there's no doubt that he is. Arsing about has never been so funny.

Noble could improvise like this for hours, weeks possibly. If there's one problem with his Edinburgh shows, it's the constraints of sticking to the hour-long timeslot, and several times during this performance he seemed to be racing against the clock.

For as well as the inspired ad-libbing, Noble also wants to give the material he's actually written a bit of an airing, too.

Alongside the genius of his spontaneous routines, his prepared routines can actually be a bit of an anticlimax. Only a little, mind, as his wonderfully surreal scenarios are still brilliantly inventive and funny, but they just don't have the same element of danger of his sublime freeform routines.

In Sonic Waffle, Noble muses mainly about Angel Delight and the Dalai Llama in the usual mix of absurd observation and dementedly surreal tangents, all delivered in his evocative Geordie drawl. (No one relishes the word 'e-vil' quite like him, which is probably why he uses it so often).

As he becomes increasingly established, it is tempting to dismiss Noble, especially as he makes it all look so easy, never falling from his comedic high-wire, but he remains a prodigious talent and a perennial highlight of the fringe.

Review date: 1 Jan 2002
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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