Multi-award-winning British comedian Ross Noble states that his show rewards the punctual and those with an imagination, and it’s true. From the pre-show mobile phone announcement to the post-show Q&A, Noble performs what is inarguably the most unique comedy show of the 2019 New Zealand International Comedy Festival. The reason for this distinction is the spontaneous and consistent stream of consciousness that Noble delivers, which provides an array of absurd scenarios with which the audience can engage.
Structurally, there are only three brief anecdotes in Humournoid, but Noble fills an entire two-hour show with constant comedy through an ongoing series of surreal tangents. Instigated by latecomers, it’s the audience, both collectively and as individual members, from which Noble draws upon for the majority of his comedic content. In doing so, they become characters in themselves, interwoven in bizarre circumstances that are often seeded and hooked into the (for lack of a better word) narrative.
There are moments where Noble pushes the boundaries when discussing racism and gender politics, but he proclaims it’s “too daft to be offensive”. He follows this by commenting on the homogeny of the audience, and while he does pull himself back at times, I can’t help but wonder how a more diverse crowd would respond. But there is nothing malicious in Noble. He’s the goofy dad who embarrasses his wife and eldest daughter, while being egged on by his youngest who sees the wonder in the worlds he create.
The dominant backdrop, a huge inflated head split in two with lit wires traversing each side, is an apt representation of Noble’s process on stage. One of the biggest international stars of the festival, the opening night Sky City Theatre audience is smaller than expected. It may be a bit longer and bit more expensive than your average comedy show, but Noble proves to be worth every cent.