John Bishop it ain’t
It’s been five years since the last show by art-school shock comic Kim Noble – hardly the 55 years that Harper Lee clocked up inbetween output, but it’s a long time in comedy. Those five years didn’t gone to waste, though. In that time, Noble went about his life, obsessing with other people’s – recording his neighbours having sex, videoing a bloke called Keith working at his local Morrisons, getting into internet relationships with strangers then luring them into hotels with the promise of sex and videoing their arrival. Projects, then. Unhealthy, twisted and sometimes illegal projects.
Whether the projects came first and gradually became a show, or whether the kernel of the show came first and the projects fitted around it, is hard to tell. What is beyond doubt is that You’re Not Alone is an extraordinary hour of comedy.
The show feels like an unnerving dream sequence even to us in the safety of our seats, let alone the poor audience member Noble leads around for the duration. Noble glides across the room, looking like a rubbish transvestite, serenely detailing these warped ideas he’s had, and with a constant backdrop of 80s Magic FM staples (I Wanna Know What Love Is, Boys of Summer), which are slowed down or manipulated out of their normalness, just to give us the creeps. And then, most memorably, and in contrast to the other-worldly tone, is the graphic video footage, which show that Noble doesn’t just have warped ideas, he realises them too (much of the footage appears to be genuine).
Such is the bombardment of grotesque stunts and images, you can’t help but become inured to them. But at no point did I feel like Noble was just shocking for the sake of it. The (hate this word) authenticity of it keeps you hanging on, as it becomes abundantly apparent that this really is Noble’s life. As with his previous show, Kim Noble Will Die, about his depression and suicide attempts, he is holding nothing back. The stories may be focused on other people, but it’s Kim Noble himself who is laid wide open from start to finish. We become voyeurs into his world as much as he is into other’s.
That said, I didn’t feel the show ever quite climbed out of the stunts and episodes and become about something more. It does edge itself towards a moving conclusion as Noble gradually reveals his loneliness and his attempts to combat that. The spectre of his elderly father becomes ever more present, and ever more distressing, but even that aspect becomes hijacked by Noble’s desire to emblazon unwipeable images onto our brains.
So unlike Kim Noble Will Die, which seemed greater than the sum of its parts, the point of We’re Not Alone gets a little stuck on its way out, for me, beaten down by everything else that’s going on. It’s a show that lingers on the eyes and ears, not in the heart and gut.
Does that fatally undermine it? No. This is still a funny, unpredictable, must-see show that you will mark others against in years to come.
Review by Paul Fleckney