He almost ran away to join the circus (no, he actually almost did). Luckily, though, zany-haired randomist Ross Noble decided to go the stand-up route instead, gifting us with his brand of peculiar, occasionally owl-orientated comedy.
Hecklers. It's fair to say most comedians contemplate them with about as much relish as you would an asbestos omelette, or the prospect of being stuck in a lift with Piers Morgan. Basically, most comedians would really rather you didn't heckle. Except for Ross Noble, a frantic comedy warlock who can magic up entire stand-up skits based on the resoundingly unfunny grunt of some beer-sodden IT manager in the third row. Now that's talent.
Hailing from a little place called Cramlington near Newcastle, Ross displayed his talent for improvisation and performance at a very early age – by which we mean he was probably an absolute pain in the arse for his teachers as a kid. It was during these unruly scamp-years that he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia, and made a conscious decision to follow a career – ANY career – that didn't involve staring at the insides of books for years on end. And this is how the very young Ross Noble, instead of spending his down time playing Double Dragon 2 on the C64, became a unicycling street juggler with the grander aim of joining a circus. Sadly, it was never to happen, although to this day Ross will still get wistful about human cannonballs.
No, everything changed after Ross went to see some stand-up comedy. He saw the light (a kind murky grey light, presumably – it was a Jack Dee gig) and decided to become a comedian himself. At first with props and juggling and visual gags, before he realised that he was spending increasing amounts of time just jabbering at the audience and making stuff up. Funny stuff. In fact, when it comes to embarking on epic, linguistical flights of fancy, he is probably Eddie Izzard's only rival.
To be fair, though, Izzard never coined a phrase as essential to the modern lexicon as "Arse Slappy Bongo Man". Ross is also the first comedian we know of to pay proper attention to the universal problem of how best to attach meat to your face. The trick is to glue one side of it and attach it to the top of your forehead to create a "meat hinge". (Addendum: If you need to manipulate the meat, simply attach it with a piece of string to your foot, so you can flap it up and down as you walk like you're a "one-man meat band".)
Not that Ross is just a chuckling meat head. He has other passions too – like Australia, for instance. After marrying an Aussie, he actually moved down there for a time, living on a sprawling farm on the outskirts of Melbourne where he particularly enjoyed the company of the "mental animals" (we assume he means crazy/interesting actual animals, rather than the phantom ones frolicking inside his own head, but we can never be sure).
While the idea of a surreal-minded Geordie running amok in the sun-baked wilds Down Under is an idea for a sitcom if ever there was one, don't hold your breath: poor Ross and his family lost all their material possessions when a devastating bushfire consumed his home. Speaking on the financial cost of the disaster, he says "If I had to put a ballpark figure on it, I'd say... a shitload."
At least he didn't come to any harm himself, mind, so he's free to continue his manic mirthmaking explorations of the world around us, and continue to dispense essential advice along the way. Like the importance of never putting a blanket over an owl. Unless you're babysitting an owl and it wants tucking in, in which case it's OK. All those years of Attenborough, and we never had an insight like that. Cheers, Ross.