Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job | Review by Steve Bennett
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Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job

Note: This review is from 2015

Review by Steve Bennett

Who would have thought that today, in 2015, one of the funniest performers on the world's leading magnet for cutting-edge comedy artists would be, essentially, a prop comic.

But Spencer Jones's joyful show transcends all negative, cheesy images of the genre because of the hilarious imagination he applies to every one of his crazy skits – and the the child-like delight his alter-ego The Herbert takes from just mucking about.

Like Tommy Cooper, he has the funny bones to get a laugh merely from his entrance, before he's said a word. He grins inanely as he struts weirdly on to the stage with his pudding-basin haircut, budgie-print shirt – and no trousers. The surreal opening dance he performs to an earworm of a song he composed himself is probably the most hilarious three minutes on the Fringe. The second most hilarious is when he pulls up that garish T-shirt for another brilliant physical image, as he makes his belly whistle and chat.

You can compare him to the like of Mr Bean (obviously) and Reeves and Mortimer, but while Jones is a worthy successor to such forebears, he does something unique across the worlds of physical comedy and surrealism. It's a show jam-packed with raw, funny images, as this man of thirtysomething, going on seven, makes puppets out of household objects – and even his own body. There is so much invention, but so little sense.

And for all the character's naivety, chinks of the real world sometimes shine in; from his 'geezer' brother not understanding how this could be a job, and his wife fretting what impact it's having on their child, and their household budget. In explaining this, he speaks in strangulated snippets of sentences, just enough to get the gags across and let us fill in the gaps – a struggle to communicate verbally that adds to his childish charm.

The show narrowly misses the magic five stars as it feels spent a little before the end of its already brisk running time, but until then we are treated to some of the most insanely funny moments at the festival.

Any review is sure overanalyse the magic. The Herbert works on a much more primal level than most comedy… it's funny because it just IS; and no explanation can do justice to the experience of watching this ebullient lunacy.

Review date: 13 Aug 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: The Hive

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