Review: Spencer Jones, Soho Theatre

Spencer Jones And Will Adamsdale Set Up Exeter Comedy Festival

The most famous comedy routine about moving to the country is Stewart Lee's riff about his friends losing their marbles in the middle of bucolic splendour and asking vistors to bring cocaine. Lee's monologue now has a rival in Spencer Jones' mid-set recreation of one man's desperate fight for survival against one of his very own chickens.

Jones' new show Making Friends is all about his relocation to Devon during lockdown, told through his trademark mix of one-liners, props, masks, samples and anything else he happens to have to hand. He gets off to a flyer from the very start with an Elvis Presley impersonation using only a shoddy plastic bag.

It is a show about fitting in and falling apart. He might have a bigger house, a nice workshop and be only a six minute drive from the beach if he floors it, but what he doesn't have is friends. Jones craves company and tries to hit it off with the locals. He thinks he might have cracked it when he goes to the pub with his electrician, but then never sees him again. Maybe they had their wires crossed.

Jones is looking for what he calls the "twinkle". That moment when you feel you have something in common with someone. When you connect and are on the same wavelength and don't need to try. Like when, as Adam Buxton says in one of his songs, the conversation flows like between a geezer and his mate. Has Jones found a soulmate in a bloke he meets who is painting some railings? Is "Railings Man" the one?

As we follow Jones on his quest he conjures up various characters, such as a snaggle toothed West Country music producer and a nosy neighbour who he overhears bitching about him. Props often come into play. Instead of dressing up as the neighbour he sticks his head through a hole in a painting of her – part saucy seaside holiday snap, part human cartoon Ennio Marchetto

This is a show jam-packed with laughs. The songs, created live using looped sampled phrases are infectious. There is some gentle audience participation involving a soup voxpop. And there is a running gag about his problem with aggressive poultry. And yes, chickens might give you free eggs, but how many eggs can one family eat?

Jones is one of those performers who simply has funny bones. While he suggests at the start that he might not be to everyone's taste this is disingenuous. Unless you have a heart made out of pure granite it is impossible not to giggle at his antics. He's a cheeky chappy in a red dressing gown with a Tommy Cooper rasping chuckle and an infectious childlike enthusiasm. 

At one point - probably as serious as this show gets – he suggests that everyone went a bit mad during lockdown. Normal people suddenly trapped inside started doing their own creative thing just like he has been doing for years. But nobody went quite as mad as Jones. The result is a treat that is both insanely silly and full of heart. He may not have made many new friends in Devon but he deserves to make lots more new friends with this show.

Until April 20. Buy tickets here.

Read an interview with Spencer Jones here

**** (that's four stars)



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