ROSS Noble got a big surprise last year when he performed in the West End. "There were people in the audience who had driven all the way from Denmark," he recalls, the bafflement clear in his voice.
"I never knew, but it turns out I have a massive following in Denmark!"
A charmingly modest fellow, Ross may have been taken aback by the size of his global fanbase - he is also huge in Australia (where he has played the country's largest stand-up gig), New Zealand and the USA - but no one else is shocked, for he is, quite simply, one of the funniest stand-ups on Earth.
Famed for his sheer inventiveness, as he improvises in dazzling fashion and goes off on wonderful tangents from tangents, Ross demonstrates the most colourful, imaginative mind this side of the Surrealist Movement - and in doing so, generates a terrific degree of warmth on stage.
I met him in the run-up to the tour and, boasting hair as wild and untamed as his imagination, he is a rare example of a comedian who is equally hilarious off stage as on it.
Our conversation is punctuated with frequent bursts of loud laughter and he radiates charisma like a Star Trek force field.
The 34-year-old is genuinely excited about the prospect of hitting the road and performing to his legions of fans once more.
"You can't beat the buzz of a live show. It's like the difference between seeing a band live and listening to them on CD," reckons Ross, who is now living in the UK again after a spell residing in Australia.
"These days we're often disconnected from each other and lost in a world of computers and video games, but there's nothing like being at a collective event.
"When loads of people are at an event together, they all contribute to its unique atmosphere that night.
"The great thing is, the next night will be completely different."
Ross, who was recently voted
Number 11 in a Channel 4 poll of the 100 Greatest Stand-Ups, continues: "The best way to describe a stand-up show is that it is like sitting around with a bunch of mates having a laugh.
"You're enjoying the company of like-minded people and it's much more fun than sitting on your own in a room!"
And the married father-of-one revels in the friendly aura created at his gigs: "Some stand-ups can be a bit aggressive and set it up as 'us and them'.
But I feel very lucky because when my audiences come along, it's all positive.
"There is a perception that if you sit in the front row, stand-ups will take the mick out of you.
"But there is a big difference between taking the mick and singling people out, which is what I do.
"I want to talk to people and draw them into the show. It's about creating as opposed to destroying.
"I want my audience to go away saying: 'It was brilliant to be involved'.
"I'd like them to think: 'Wouldn't it be great if he talked to me?' rather than: 'Oh my God!'"
Before going on stage, Ross prepares by only ever writing a couple of ideas on his hand, saying he loves the spontaneity of reacting to whatever happens in the auditorium.
His shows thrive on the stream-ofconsciousness approach.
"I'll walk down the street daydreaming and lost in my own head,"
he says. "Some people don't like being faced with their own thoughts - they need to distract themselves from their solitude - but I find it quite pleasant.
"Being on stage just allows me to share those daydreams and show my working out."
And the stand-up confesses that he does not yet know what themes he will be addressing in his new tour, Nonsensory Overload.
"Ask me in a few weeks' time," he says with a laugh. "Essentially it's me talking about what's on my mind and just messing about.
"I like to take an idea and allow it to flourish on stage. You kick it around and play with it and see where it leads you.
"The problem with writing stuff down is that it makes it too final and gives it a set order.
"You never want to say: 'That's funny - I'll write it out'. Creating a show is a constant work in progress." * Ross Noble visits the Beck Theatre to warm up for his 2010 Nonsensory Overload Tour from September 15 to 16. Shows start at 8pm. Tickets cost £17. For more information and to book, call the box office on 020 8561 8371 or go to www.becktheatre.org.uk.