Edinburgh Festival Fringe comedy review: Spencer Jones Presents: The Herbert in Proper Job, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Jay Richardson.
With his speech slightly more coherent and with fewer inexplicable moments for their own sake than his cult introduction last year, Spencer Jones’s return as his cockney idiot alter-ego, The Herbert, feels like he’s aiming to be more accessible.
And if that is his intention, then he’s succeeded admirably, because this is a joyously silly burst of childlike frivolity that’s as mad as box of a swannee whistles, but which won’t frighten the horses and would likely get them to crack a beaming smile.
A wonderful fusion of prop comic and character act, The Herbert unveils a dizzying array of objects, from everyday household essentials to creepy taxidermy, that he rudimentally packages together or simply operates with gleeful mischief in his generous, unabashed desire to entertain.
Turning the world into his playground, he might refuse to engage on its terms, if he didn’t occasionally marvel at the cost of his latest curio. Or that a man approaching 40 is allowed to carry on in this manner, invariably shrugging, or grinning of his performance that, “it’s summat, innit?”
And yet, with his father’s disdain, his freaky baby’s needs and his wife’s despair, allusive perhaps to Spencer’s own spouse’s end-of-tether, the Herbert is forced into getting a job, at a nuclear power plant no less. As unsuitable an employee in this regard as Homer Simpson, his disrespect towards, and dressing downs from his foreman are brilliantly and economically conveyed with just a shop dummy head and hard hat. There’s further inspired expression with ping pong ball eyeballs and this is one of those interactive shows in which people seek to get involved, happily stepping up for his delightful ensemble finale.
With Jones currently following in Rowan Atkinson’s bumbling footsteps as the face of Barclaycard, The Herbert is also a worthy inheritor of Mr Bean’s modern clown mantle.
Heroes @ The Hive (Venue 313) until 31 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 28 August 2015
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