First Night: Ross Noble, Empire, Liverpool Raising the Noble art of comedy with sublime laughs across 43 cities

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What do you give the man-child comedian that has everything? A bigger train set of course. To be precise, a live gig in Liverpool beamed simultaneously to 43 cinemas, from Aberdeen to York, attracting a potential audience of more than 10,000.

Of course, he could have just played a stadium or arena gig but that would perhaps have been too "route one" for a comedian whose mind likes to make unexpected left turns.

So distracted is Noble that it takes him a clear 45 minutes to acknowledge the special nature of his gig and that there are people watching it as a "simulcast" as it was termed. Nor is there any concession away from the local colour of the gig and perhaps rightly so. My fellow Leicester Square audience hear how the North-west's version of Madame Tussauds is supposedly called Mrs Tussauds (in nearby Blackpool, it is in fact Louis Tussauds) and we hear a lot from a "scally" heckler (sounding clear enough to be in our midst) who has already made her presence felt at one of his Manchester gigs, infamous for once needing tourinate in a bin.

The unsavoury tale allows Noble, pacing the stage like a caged, crouched tiger, to at last weave in the satellite link into his random banter. He imagines that lines from the gig get beamed into sat-nav machines: "in 400 metres, turn left ... take the next right ... piss in a bin."

Too often Noble is distracted by the presents audience members have left for him on stage, these props prove less fertile than his own imagination. However, rich seams of humour are stumbled upon with satisfying regularity. A tale of a heckler who once grabbed his attention by initially shouting "oi!" morphs into a line from Eddy Grant's "Electric Avenue". Realising that audience members under 35 were struggling to place the reggae star he explained that an Eddy Grant was "a grant you can apply for if your avenue isn't electric, if it's one of those steam powered ones" thus beautifully alluding to Grant's biggest hit.

Sublime stuff. There was a feeling of disappointment, on my part, that the gig had not been perhaps as interactive as one had been led to believe. Of course Noble's shtick is so fragmented that the temptation to converse with 43 other hecklers or latecomers might have proved too much for both him and his audience. However, during the obligatory Ross Noble Q&A with the audience Noble managed to hear the voices of people from the cinemas courtesy of a mobile phone. More of a "sim-cast" than a "'simulcast" but resourceful nonetheless.

Meanwhile, on the meat and bread technical side of things a friend of mine told me that a friend of his in Aberdeen had been staring at a blank screen at least for the first half of the show. Hitches and glitches aside the gig was an enjoyable happening that has an opportunity to be further tested and there will surely be other comics eager to see how many people will want to feel the big screen experience with them. For Noble, who I would still dearly love to see in a stadium, it is another example of how he has brought "dicking about", as he once described his art, to the fore.

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