(Click on the numbers to go to parts 1, 2, 3, & 4, of this series)
Well I finally got to see Ross Noble last night (or Ross Snowball, as my daughter thought I said). Given a series of events earlier in the day, including the fact that I’d lost my wallet and had to go through that heart sinking process of cancelling the credit cards and ordering new ones, I’d almost become convinced that the car would break down, or the venue would catch fire at the last moment. However it all went ahead smoothly and Ross played to a sell out capacity crowd of about 150 people (effectively increasing the population of the village by 50%).
I probably would have bought some merchandise – a poster, t-shirt or even a signed DVD - but there wasn’t any, which was a shame because we weren’t allowed to take photos either. In fact, other than the crowd of people waiting to get into Dalry Village Hall, the only indication that the gig was going on was a single A2 sized poster, stuck on the wall with blue-tack by the front door, with a strip of paper stuck across it proudly proclaiming it to be Sold Out.
Ross Noble was as good as I’d hoped. There was the odd moment when I drifted away and started looking around the hall rather than the stage, but the majority of the time he had me chuckling heartily. Once or twice I even struggled for breath I was laughing so hard. He was at his funniest, clearly ad-libbing, when interacting with the audience and making observations about the hall and the village.
Ross Noble’s style of humour is rambling, surreal and you get the feeling that he’s making it up as he goes along. Indeed, part of what makes him so funny is the constant straying off the point into bizarre worlds. Unlike, say, Peter Kay, whose humour is based on observations of real life and the people around him, Ross Noble might start with an everyday notion, but within a few short sentences he has taken you into a world so far removed from reality that you are left with no sense of the ground rules to life anymore. In this way he is far more like the incredible Eddie Izzard but I think he takes it a stage further. I’d love to be able to quote some of the stuff to give you a flavour, but it would be impossible. All I can do is recommend that you try and see him live, or get hold of a DVD.
In an almost surreal display of provinciality, during the mid-interval break a raffle was drawn: first prize was a signed poster of Ross Noble; second prize was a bottle of wine; and third prize was two tickets for a Glenkens and Community Arts Trust show in a couple of weeks.
And as if trying to create an atmosphere of going to a local amateur dramatics production rather than a professional event, we were asked by the Glenkens and Community Arts Trust to fill in a form which asked for us to rate from 1 to 5 what we considered to be the quality of the event, and whether we felt it was good value for money (was it too expensive, about right, or would you have paid more for this event?).
However, in the end I was finally able to work out why Ross Noble had played such a small and obscure venue. From September he starts playing much bigger theatres with ten to fifty times the number of people in the audience. So doing gigs like this helps him to hone his act before he reaches the masses: if he goes too far or crashes and burns, his reputation can stand 150 people being put off far more than if he screws up in front of thousands.
But there was no sense that he was doing second-class work or that we were any less important. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves and at only £10 for the ticket I felt like I’d got a real bargain.