Ross Noble is very, very tired. He’s halfway through an 85-date international tour of his new stand-up show ‘Humournoid’ and has just landed back in London after the first Australian leg.

And on top of the jet-lag, he’s got two children.

We meet in a hotel bar in central London where Ross is main-lining coffee and a healthy smoothie in a cocktail glass with bits of fruit dangling off the sides - ‘it’s very pretty but it’s a bit ridiculous, isn’t it?’.

Occasionally he apologises if he’s not making any sense. In real life, as on stage, his conversation often meanders away from the point but it always goes somewhere interesting & despite his apologies, he makes perfect sense.

There’s a childlike quality to some of his musings, but the main thing I take away from being in his company is a sense of fun, which I was expecting, and a sense of zen-like calm, which I perhaps was not.

I talked to him about running over camels, creating a giant robot version of his head, and the benefits of firing your imagination.

I would normally start by asking what to expect from your tour, but maybe that’s hard to say as you improvise so much?

I can tell you one thing to expect. I’ve always been a fan of breaking away from the thing of a comedian just standing in front of a blank stage with a couple of lights, a stool, and a table with some water on it.

Now, if you can’t go two hours without a drink of water, there’s something wrong with you. If you go and see Phantom of the Opera, he’s not on stage constantly swigging water, is he?

So I don’t do that. I like to create massive sets. I’ve always loved the idea of this big, theatrical, rock and roll set and then just this bloke walking on and talking.

So on the stage I’ve got a massive head, which is my head, and it’s connected by veins which are LED lights. It’s like a giant cyborg ‘Total Recall’ version of my head, and I walk out through the two halves of my head. It’s totally unnecessary but it makes me laugh a lot.

And then it’s whatever pops into my head after that.

I read a statistic that your shows are about 70 per cent improvised, is that right?

I don’t know, I’ve never measured it! What I do is I go on stage at the beginning and improvise, then if something tickles me I might write it down and then the next night, I’ll go back to that idea. But I might go back to that idea and do it a bit differently.

So it’s never quite the same. I like that white-hot heat of being in the moment. So even if an idea was good, I won’t repeat it exactly the same because that’s last night’s thing, I’ll just take the essence of it and do something new with it.

I get distracted quite easily. Whatever’s in my head tends to dance to the front. When my show’s at its best I think it’s when my brain is open to anything.

It’s an international tour, isn’t it?

Yes, I started the tour in Australia and did 40-odd gigs there, then went to New York and LA, then I’m heading back to Australia for a couple of months, and then I’ll start the UK leg of the tour in April 2020.

What was Australia like?

Brilliant. We were touring around the outback performing at all the desert venues. It’s mad, they’ve got all these little outback towns with art centres because the Australian government spends money on the regions. So you turn up to this place in the middle of nowhere and there’s all these state-of-the-art facilities.

There’s not a huge amount of comics who bother their arses to go out there, so they appreciate it.

So by the time I get to the UK in April 2020, the tour will be rolling along nicely. I’ll just have to remember not to get muddled up and talk about smashing into kangaroos in the car.

Did that happen to you?

No but I nearly killed a camel. We were up in Broome and they have this tourist thing where they have 30 camels all tied together. They must have been taking them back at the end of the day and the problem with camels is, they don’t have any lights on. So we were driving around the corner and were like, ‘What’s that?’, and suddenly we were almost on top of this camel. And the thing is, when they’re tethered together like that, if you hit one then it has a domino effect… We could have been the car that broke the camel’s back.

Do you get nervous before going on stage?

No, because there’s nothing to be frightened of. I think this applies to life as well: there’s no point worrying about what’s going to happen, you may as well just deal with it when it happens.

I think you can get too hamstrung by worrying. Don’t worry about the past, don’t worry about the future, just enjoy the moment you’re in.

Could you just write in the article, ‘At this point, Ross got into a Lotus position and floated three feet in the air…’?

I do think I’m best on stage when I’m playing. And some people might think this is an emotionally stunted, man-child way of looking at it but I think it’s nice to make everything about playing. Because if you do that, it doesn’t matter if you’re winning or losing, you’re just playing.

For example, if I say to my kids, ‘Tidy your room’, they won’t. If you go, ‘Let’s see how many socks we can throw across the room into that laundry basket’, you get the tidying done and everyone’s had fun.

I think that might be the secret of happiness: just turn everything into a game.

Has fatherhood changed your comedy?

It’s made me tired! In a sense, it has changed my comedy. I used to spend a lot more time daydreaming. I think having children focused me a little bit. I used to spend a lot of time in my own head but I check in with the real world a little bit more now, which you have to, because you don’t want your kids to die and all that.

My stuff used to be so divorced from reality, people used to call it ‘surreal’. Whereas now I think it’s magic realism. It still takes that trip off to wherever, but it feels more grounded in reality, which possibly makes it more accessible.

You’ve been doing this since you were 15, which is nearly 30 years. How has comedy, or your comedy, changed in that time?

When I first started, it was the early 1990s and there were only four purpose-built comedy clubs back then. There were a lot of performance poets around and people would say, ‘Are you an alternative comedian?’. This idea of ‘alternative’ comedy, what they meant was people like Ben Elton and French & Saunders who weren’t sexist or homophobic, like the 1970s comedians.

If you look at Jack Dee and Frank Skinner, they were the first wave of what you’d deem ‘alternative’ comics who hosted programmes on mainstream, popular, primetime telly. Then there was another wave of Peter Kay, Jason Manford, John Bishop: a whole swathe of northern comedians who suddenly became big mainstream stars who, along with Michael McIntyre, were hosting all of the big gameshows and chat shows and stand-up shows on the telly.

Or take Vic and Bob: they were as ‘alternative’ as you could get, but then with Shooting Stars they became incredibly popular and mainstream.

Acts like Little Britain or Harry Hill would never have appealed to a Saturday night audience ten years previously.

What I’m saying is there are no lines drawn with comedy anymore. It can be quirky, and different, and still be on primetime telly.

I’ve just ploughed my own furrow and done my own thing.and that’s allowed me to do bits and bobs of interesting things, without having to become a gameshow host.

To sum up: why should people buy tickets for your show?

Because it’s not a passive show. I like to think of it as an experience. It’ll make you laugh but it’ll also enrich your life.

Can you write, ‘He’s floating again, and he has a wry smile’?

There’s so much entertainment these days. When I was a kid, the idea that I could one day access an archive of anything that’s ever been on telly or film, within seconds - that’s mad. I remember trawling through books to find information. If you had a certain hobby, you’d have to write to a certain shop and ask for a catalogue. Whereas we’re always on our phones now.

So what I love about stand-up is it’s one of the few art forms where people actually come together in a room at the same time on the same night, with phones off, and feel like they’re part of something. It’s quite a rare thing these days. That’s what I try to do: create a feeling that we’re all in something together.

Honestly, I think it’s just nice to turn your phone off and laugh with a load of other people. It’s that simple.

Ross Noble will be appearing at the Sands Centre in Carlisle on Friday, May 1. Phone 01228 633766 for tickets.