Comedian Ross Noble brings his El Hablador stand-up show to Ireland
David Roy catches up with Geordie funnyman Ross Noble, who brings his new El Hablador stand-up tour to Belfast tonight
ROSS Noble likes to keep his fans on their toes. For more than 20 years the Geordie comedian has been spinning spontaneous stand-up for audiences around the globe: your typical Ross Noble show will be a meandering journey full of funny stories, whimsical tangents and offbeat observations.
Having recently starred in Mel Brooks's West End musical Young Frankenstein, which saw him nominated for an Olivier award, the 42-year-old also has a pair of TV shows on Dave, Freewheeling and Off Road, which follow him on various motorcycle-related adventures.
Now, the comedian has ditched the choreography and is back on the road with a brand new stand-up tour, El Hablador.
Hi Ross, how is the El Hablador tour going so far?
It's been great, the shows have been really good. But it's taken a bit of time to get used to sitting in traffic again after coming off the Australia leg of the tour.
Over there, you might be sitting in the car for ages but you're constantly moving all that time. Whereas, over here you could be sitting in the car for five or six hours and you're only going to the next town!
This is your 16th tour of Britain and Ireland, with 68 dates announced so far. After 20 years on the road, do you still enjoy touring?
It would be hard work if I didn't! Is that how many shows it is? That seems like a daft number – I'll put on two extra dates, just to make it up to 70.
But, yeah, I do still love it. The great thing about stand-up is you're face-to-face with real people.
You've said that when you started touring you "didn't really live in the real world". Has that changed?
When I started, all I did was tour – I was just a vessel. I've got more of a balanced life now, but I can still retain the essence of being in the moment.
I realised quite early on that stand-up can teach you everything you need to know about life, which is: have one eye on the future, and have one eye on the past, but live in the present.
When I started people said I was 'surreal'. That's a bit of a lazy description, because it sort of implies that anyone could do it.
Now, I think I take the building blocks of the real world and then stretch and manipulate them. It's more like 'magic realism' than 'surrealism'.
That's the way I see it – and that's the most pretentious thing I've ever said!
Are you looking forward to returning to Ireland again this week?
I always love returning to Ireland – the audiences are great.
In your Dave TV show Ross Noble: Off Road, you put yourself and your motorbike through the gruelling Scottish Six Days Trial. Did you take much convincing to do it?
That was something that I was doing anyway. We went to the channel and said, “We're doing this, shall we film it?” and they went, “Definitely.”
Hopefully we can do another series. I'd like to, but we can only really do it if we can up the ante.
Did you ever apply to get on hit 1980s kids motorcycle trials show Junior Kick Start, and isn't it high time that the adult Kick Start was 'rebooted' under your supervision?
I didn't because I wasn't allowed a motorbike as a kid. In fact my mum and dad buying me a motorbike was definitely never an option. So I just played on my Raleigh Grifter.
I've been thinking about rebooting [Kick Start] for about 10 years now and even suggested doing it as a charity event. I've been talking to a few people about it so hopefully the idea will be developed.
You recently showcased your singing talents in Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein. What was that like?
And my dancing – I was Olivier-nominated, you know. But I don't like to talk about it.
How did you find working with a living comedy legend, Mel Brooks?
Mel was phenomenal. He constantly tinkers with everything, changing punchlines around, cutting entire scenes.
Even though he's got this incredible body of work – and he's aware of that, because he keeps reminding you that he's a living legend – he's not hung up on the big picture, he's all about the detail. He's just as bothered about the nuance of it all.
The last time I spoke to him he was talking about new projects that he passionately wants to do.
After an Olivier nomination, have you thought about incorporating any songs into your other work?
What, like releasing a Christmas album? I'd like to do more musicals, if the right thing came along – I enjoy it. But just because you enjoy singing doesn't necessarily mean you should.
Though I do have a couple of ideas for things that are not quite musicals, but sort of musicals, which I'm working on – but I won't say what because it'll jinx it or something.
:: Ross Noble brings El Hablador to The Ulster Hall in Belfast tonight and Dublin's Olympia Theatre on Saturday September 29. For tickets and more info see Rossnoble.co.uk