Science has proven laughter can induce a zen-like state, like meditation. Can contemplation, reflection and self-discovery be achieved by thinking every and all the thoughts at once? Who knows and who cares!
Freewheeling award-winning stand-up comedian Ross Noble returns to the Territory with his new show, On The Go, hitting stages in Darwin and Alice Springs. Tierney Seccull caught up with him for a laugh. Er, chat.
Tell us about On The Go – what inspired it?
Well, I don’t really sit down to write a show, I just do it, you know? It’s not really about anything, it’s changing all the time. I go out on stage and depending on the city that I’m in, the mood that I’m in, and the people that are in the audience, all of those things affect what happens on stage, you know?
It’s called On The Go because I was doing an interview with somebody and they said “you’re always on the go, you know,” and I went, “ooh, I am – yeah, brilliant name for a show!”
My shows are basically things that happen on the night, and it’s all about being in that room and a whole group of people coming together – it’s about being in the moment, so that’s kind of the ethos of what I go for.
And especially now, because of the pandemic, people were very much isolated, so being able to get people together – in the same room – and sharing something with them rather than just passively watching something, we’re all just playing together. That’s the very la-di-da kind of version of it. The upshot is that it’s me just talking bollocks for a bit!
[Laughs] Well ,yes! And you’re an artist of improvisation – I don’t know what goes on in your mind, but that quick wit to be able to make a show up on the spot is pretty clever.
Again, you know, it’s one of those things where people try to define what I’m doing, and they do like to dwell on the improv stuff. You might say it’s clever and quick, but for me it’s just playing, you know? Playing around with ideas, playing around in the space, it’s just about play.
When you see a kid playing with five or six dolls and they’re all talking to each other, you’ve got unicorns flying around, that’s sort of improv but we never look at it and go, “god, look at that kid improvising with five different characters.” The only difference is that I do it on stage and there has to be a laugh every 15 seconds, but you know, I love it!
There’s never a part of me where I feel any pressure. People turn up because that’s what they want to see and what I want to do. Some would say it’s turning some sort of disability into a career, but you know, it works for me!
That it does. And obviously the past couple of years have been a bit weird, but people have picked up a few little habits or skills when at home. Have you dabbled in anything?
Well, weirdly, even though I couldn’t tour, I just spent a solid year writing … In the lockdown I was writing screenplays … I wrote a film, basically, and that’s now in development. But I don’t want to jinx it – the whole thing could be cancelled, and you’ll never hear of it again! [laughs]
The way I look at it is that some people made bread. I looked at it and went, well, everybody’s making banana bread, and at the end of it you’ll be full for a bit, and you’ve eaten some bread. Whereas, if you write a film, you’ll either have a film or have killed a bit of time and disappeared into your own head for a bit.
Obviously not being able to do shows was an absolute nightmare, but from my point of view, it was a chance to see my family. When I’m on the road you’re away a lot, so it was a bit, “oh, look, my kids are here!”
The trouble is I spent every day in my office writing, so my poor wife was doing the home-schooling. She was in there with the child, and I’m in the other room talking to myself with all different characters and it’s like, is this really work? [laughs]
Gee, I reckon getting home-schooled by Ross Noble would be pretty bloody fun, though.
Well, there was one thing we did. The thing was “how would you measure the height of a giraffe?” And the idea of it was to get like a metre ruler and work out your height, and then estimate how high the giraffe would be.
But me and my youngest, who was seven, we got my Hilux ute and strapped ladders to the top of it. We latched all these ladders together to make this big pyramid, and then on top of the ladders, we put a massive drainpipe up in the air. So, we basically made a 20-metre high ruler that you could drive around, and we did that with a stop motion camera.
The teacher was like, “so, how would you do it?”, and she went, “me and my dad made a 20-metre ruler attached to the top of his car!”
Brilliant. I knew that would be a fun class. Anything planned while you’re in the Territory?
I always go and have a look at the crocodiles – I’m slightly obsessed with the crocodiles. In fact, I really love skeletons, I’ve started collecting them. Every time I go to Darwin, I nearly buy a crocodile skull, so this time I might finally get around to buying it … While I’m in Darwin, I might go skull shopping! [laughs]
While I’m in Alice, I’d quite like to check out the Finke Desert Racetrack – I haven’t got a lot of time, so I might at least check out the start. You know what, I might get a helicopter, actually. I might go in a helicopter and get them to fly me to Finke and back!