Spencer Jones: Making Friends | Edinburgh Fringe comedy review
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Spencer Jones: Making Friends

Edinburgh Fringe comedy review

Spencer Jones did not have a good lockdown. Having moved from London to Devon, he felt isolated and went a bit cuckoo… which you would be forgiven for thinking was not that far a descent based on the charmingly unhinged nature of much of his work.

The difficulty of establishing male friendships informs his new show, while an unlikely feud he had with one of the chickens he kept takes on a major significance, given that there’s little else to occupy his mind.

Making Friends is probably his most personal show, but that doesn’t mean he’s abandoned the silly surrealism. The bizarre props, many fashioned from household objects, remain a real highlight, from the pigeon to the anthropomorphic tooth. Maybe he’ll do a whole puppet show with such creations one day.

Meanwhile, sketches are underpinned by repetitive, looping samples that represent the soundtrack to his breakdown, echoing the clamorous noises and voices that get stuck in his anxious head.

A few things misfire on this second Edinburgh performance, still officially a preview, with lost props and missed connections with his trains of thought. But a little bit of chaos isn’t going to change the fundamental dynamics of a Spencer Jones show.

There are a few more stand-uppy elements here, too, as Jones describes incidents in his life, from getting confused while on a shopping mission as his brain plays Chinese whispers with itself to a reenactment of the agony of getting into a scalding hot bath. This last one’s a bit pedestrian – and certainly not unique to him – though Jones sells it well. He always does, laughing semi-manically at his own ridiculousness or shortcomings.

But we’re never far from that sense of isolation. Soon after moving to the South West, Jones was called back to London for an acting job that meant living in a Travelodge for months (‘Very Partridge,’ he admits) which did nothing for his mental health.

Back in Devon things are not much better. He clearly has a great family life - his eight-year-old daughter Winnie, especially, inspires his childish sense of humour – but he pines for mates with a glint of mischief in their eye. He leaps too keenly on offers of social interaction in the hope of forming a connection, scaring them off like some over-eager first date.

But it’s that cock-a-doodle-doing prick in the back garden that’s really driving him potty, with the run-ins with his nemesis forming a vital part of the gloriously mad scene that wraps up this ever-entertaining, if still a little unformed, hour.

Review date: 19 Aug 2023
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Monkey Barrel Comedy Club

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