Ross Noble reflects on his 21st tour – Sussex dates
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“It turns out that if you just keep going long enough, you reach your 21st!” Ross laughs. “You wear people down in the end!
“I started when I was 15 and I'm 47 now so you work it out but I think my first tour was around 99. People thought I was mad at the time but when I started out I used to play all these different comedy clubs. I would go to them regularly and I would start building up a following and that was at the time when everybody was just racing to try to get on TV and thinking that ‘If I am famous people will come and see me!’ But my whole thing was to keep playing the smaller clubs and the pubs and maybe the Friday and Saturday comedy clubs and then I would go back to the clubs on a Tuesday as part of my tour and I would start seeing people again. And then I would move on to the smaller theatres and each time I would go back to a place I would just be building it up gradually. I stayed away from TV for ages and it got to the point where I then moved from the little theatres to the bigger theatres and then doing some gigs in London and then doing a West End run.”
And maybe that's what accounts for Ross’ longevity in the business: “What is happening now is that you see people that have been going for five minutes and they put stuff on TikTok and Instagram and they get all the hits and they are really good for five minutes. But I just kept building and building and now I'm getting to the point where I see people coming with their own families who were once brought along by their parents.
“When I first started you would do your five minutes and actually when I started I used to wear a suit and I was very much a props act. If you could imagine I was like a **** Steve Martin-type act though even just mentioning his name in the same breath is like a massive insult to him but I used to go on with a suitcase full of props and I would do little juggling things and I used to have a Garfield that was dressed as Yasser Arafat. And one of my props was an I Spy Book of Windsor Castle. I had just learned to drive so I was on stage talking about that as well. But I used to do a street show as well and doing the street entertaining I used to find that I would get sidetracked.”
And that's what filtered into his stage show – as increasingly he would free-wheel. So the props fell by the wayside. That's when the Ross Noble that we all know now started to emerge.
“When I first started, the first comic I saw was Jack Dee and I was thinking I should be like that but it was such a lesson to learn. I saw him in his suit and he was very focused but I was never really like that and if you try and do that, try to do something that you are not, then you just don't find your own voice. You won't see your own voice even though it's staring you in the face.”