Ross Noble - Things Change
Up to now a carefree spirit wreaking surrealist mayhem everywhere he goes, Ross Noble tells Jay Richardson of his newfound serious(ish) outlook
Despite just losing his farm in Australia to the recent bush fires and flying into the UK on the morning of this interview, Ross Noble maintains he’s completely primed for questioning. ‘Oh, wait, I’ve put too much pressure on myself,’ the Geordie comic suddenly falters. ‘I was about to say you’ve got me at my absolute peak. But if I don’t answer your questions like a young Peter Ustinov … I’ve overdone it, haven’t I?’
Suffice to report, the 32-year-old ex-pat remains as eccentric, entertaining and endlessly digressing as ever, temporarily indulging my pseudo-diagnosis that his apparent boundless capacity for free association bollocks might relate to his dyslexia. ‘If someone wants to hook me up to some electrodes, lab monkey style, I’d be keen to find out,’ the ex-circus performer replies. ‘I can’t write fast enough to record anything, so I end up just leaping from subject to subject. I’ve always seen it as lack of organisation rather than a gift.’ He has however, just been gifted a new muse, his inspirational baby daughter. ‘Yeah, I’ve had this desire to put everything I see in my mouth. It’s quite weird because I’ve always had a childlike outlook on things. My old London house always looked like Tom Hanks’ flat in Big. I love having a baby because I get to play with her all the time. I can’t wait until she’s a bit bigger and can join in. At the moment it’s just a lot of face pulling on my part.’
For his new show, Things, Noble commissioned Iron Maiden’s illustrator Derek Riggs to design a typically eye-catching poster, which in turn inspired his hydra-headed, tentacles-creeping set. ‘I told him I wanted a big monster with a turtle’s body, wings and claws, and for it to have four heads, all of ‘em mine, chasing me down the road.’ Irrespective of the inherent flakiness of Noble’s imagination, ‘people and things being fired out of cannons’ and monkeys remain consistent preoccupations. ‘Monkeys always appear at some point, less because I’m into wildlife and more because I like Planet of the Apes. For three or four weeks, whenever a monkey was ready to make an appearance I would restrain him. Then there’d be several people at the stage door afterwards angry that I hadn’t mentioned them.’
Well, you can’t fight your primal instincts. ‘You nearly said you can’t fight monkeys,’ he enthuses. ‘They’re always going berserk, that’s the beauty of the monkey, very little middle ground. They’re either cheeky or ripping somebody’s face off. I’m a huge fan of animal attack shows. It’s one thing seeing a monkey attack somebody violently, quite another seeing it do it in a pink lamé costume, a little fez or something. A tiny simian Tommy Cooper losing his mind!’
So what are his plans for the future? ‘Probably buying a new house to be honest because mine’s fucked. That would be top of the list, though at least I don’t have to worry about housework for now. I’m going back in June to do some sort of benefit. We lost our home but my family’s safe and I’ll do what needs to be done for the folks that weren’t so lucky.’
Theatre Royal, Glasgow, Fri 20–Sun 22 Mar.