YOU could not make it up. Not even Geordie absurdist Ross Noble could do that. His ebullient show starts with Noble's own variation on that management nudge: "Please ensure all mobile phones are switched off."

In a paranoid video sketch, the errant Ross is battered about the head by assorted assailants, from gremlins to cheese triangles, for the crime of his ring tone going off. That is the planned part, but what happens at the outset of the second half is beyond surreal.

The mobile phone strikes back. There is a phone left at the side of the stage, and inevitably it catches Noble's eye as an outlet for more improvisation, the ace card in his comic pack. "Whose is it?" he inquires, whereupon comedian and audience take the scenic route to the truth. A woman in the stalls has put it there, switched on of course, for her husband to hear Noble's musings as he motors to Southampton.

It is not as if Noble needs assistance in locating comic material to flow as erratically as a twig through his stream of consciousness, but he can ride a gift horse like Lester Piggott. Someone shouts out: "Frankie," and he is off on a tangent, impersonating that son of York, Frankie Howerd.

Noble, all in baggy black and wild-haired, stands out against the multi-coloured backdrop of a wall of psychedelic noodles. He had chosen the Noodlemeister tour title, not as an indication of the show's content, but as a guide to his style, and sure enough, not only does he noodle in the extemporising tradition of jazz but also he leaves several strands - or noodles - hanging in the air at any one time.

He tantalises the audience as to whether, for example, he will return to the subjects of pesky Liverpool kids and the worst attraction ever.

He tackles the big issues too, deflating every one of them. Politics? Let's talk about Saddam Hussein's tweed jacket at his pre-trial hearing. Religion? Let's wonder why there is no Muslim Women's Brass Band and duly invent one with all the inspired visualisation that Eddie Izzard brings to his surrealism (and Noble is on better form than Eddie was on his Sexie tour).

Religious balance? Let's ponder why Jesus is always "sweet Lord Jesus", whereupon Noble depicts the disciples licking him. Is that going too far? No, Noble's mad world would be a better place to live, one where you can mimic police speed guns by standing on the road side with a hair dryer.

And if you can't see tonight's show, you could always sneak in beforehand and leave your mobile by the stage.

Updated: 09:39 Friday, July 16, 2004