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Reviews / Comedian keeps it local during sellout gig

Comedian Ross Noble enthralled a Lerwick audience on Thursday night.

MAREEL buckled with belly laughs on Thursday night as comedian Ross Noble performed his first gig in Shetland.

The English comic – best known for his oddball stand-up and high-profile TV appearances – took to the sold-out Lerwick venue for the opening date of a warm-up run before his full UK Tangentleman tour kicks off later this month, writes Chris Cope.

The title of the tour was an apt one as Noble embarked on a meandering and largely improvised set that finished nearly three hours after its scheduled start time.

It’s unclear, however, what material the comedian will take from the show into his full tour, with many of the gags linked to Shetland or the night’s often boisterous audience participation.

Seals, ponies, lifeboats and the allegedly inferior quality of Lerwick’s Specsavers were subjects in Noble’s opening gambit before he got into his stride with energetic jokes about genitalia with Tourette’s syndrome, lift etiquette and selfie troubles.

Some of the night’s top laughs, meanwhile, came from a prolonged volley of quips with a sharp audience member who sported a resemblance to Noble – “I have long hair and speak a lot of sh*t”, he said – following a tip-off from some friends.

Whilst a couple of improvised jokes ran into self-admitted cul-de-sacs, it was Noble’s ability to inspire the audience into conjuring outlandish images in their minds that gave credence to his weighty reputation.

There was talk of Shetland ponies running in a gargantuan hamster wheel to create energy, consuming food in futuristic pill form and a Buddhist praying in an NCP car park.

Towards the end of the gig, a sweaty-browed Noble regularly made reference to his set running over time, but he kept feeding the audience more. When it was eventually closing time, the comedian managed to somehow pull together – like a master weaver – all of his tangled improv strands, including the numerous characters in the crowd who inspired a large portion of Noble’s jokes.

And with witty Irish stand-up and actor Dylan Moran recently confirmed to appear in Mareel in March, comedy fans in the isles won’t have to wait too long until another top-class laugh-merchant makes the trip north.

Chris Cope