Writer: Spencer Jones
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan
Spencer Jones was the surprise comedy hit of last year’s festival. His show, Spencer Jones Presents The Herbert In Proper Job, was a gloriously barmy mix of anthropomorphic household objects, surreal audience participation, and brilliantly silly use of audio technology. This year, Jones has returned to Underbelly Cowgate with his 2015 hit, as well as staging a new, more experimental – if that doesn’t sound impossible – pay-what-you-want show, Spencer Jones Presents The Herbert In Eggy Bagel, at The Hive.
Describing Jones’ uniquely clownish brand of comedy is hard. Basically, he pilfers random pieces of junk from around his house, then plays around with them on stage as Herbert, his bowl-cut, madly giggling, strangely loveable moron of an alter-ego. If that sounds weird, it is. If it sounds childish, it is. And if it sounds utterly hilarious, it is.
In Proper Job, Jones’ armoury consists of mops, sponges, latex gloves, plastic police helmets, fake gorilla heads, and a horrifically mutilated baby doll. Wielding this eclectic assortment of crap, he creates hysterically weird impression after hysterically weird impression. The mop, with a pair of ping-pong ball eyes added, becomes a high-pitched pop-star. A latex glove, blown up and twisted, morphs into the Flying Snowman. And Jones himself, chest adorned with permanent marker and goggle-eyes, turns into a giant head, whistling through his belly button. You get the idea…
In Eggy Bagel, Jones has repeated the same trick, and it works magnificently. Here, playing around with a framed portrait of his father, some glow-in-the-dark paint, and another decapitated doll, he crafts gags galore, every one unexpected, every one received with gales of laughter. He makes greater use of technology than in his earlier show, cajoling the audience into helping him create a remarkably accurate soundscape of a Sunday League football match, ill-tempered swearing and all, and using an iPad for a superbly well-choreographed piece of audience participation.
But it’s not just the sublime ridiculousness of Jones’ comedy that amuses. One can’t help but warm to his on-stage charisma, both when he inhabits the grunting, guffawing Herbert and when he slips briefly out of character to inform the audience, with side-splitting candidness, that the bumbling idiot mucking about on stage before them is 40 years old. Ah well, Spencer, there are far worse things to be in middle age than one of the funniest, most original comics at the Fringe.
Runs until 28August 2016 | Image: Contributed