Spencer Jones is once more going full tilt in the surrealism stakes, and the result is a fantastically strange success. The Herbert is back at the Fringe provoking gales of laughter while deftly defying description with another slice of bizarre clowning comedy.
This is the kind of comedy which bubbles up from material which is continually surprising thanks to the creativity of its creator and the seeming chaos of its delivery.
Fixed grin, bowl haircut, fluorescent yellow top with massive, cylindrical shoulders, and a pair of tight, white leggings which are prone to inflating, the Herbert comes across like a child’s entertainer who looked into the abyss for just a little too long. During a series of prop-heavy skits, intermixed with cleverly constructed musical interludes, over the course of the show we are shown episodes from his life.
These episodes aren’t particularly unusual but they are brought to life with a creative force which floods firmly in from the left field. From playing football, to looking after his child, to learning about the Herbert’s father and his career as an undercover police officer, characters and incidents are brought to live by such unlikely visual aids as a headless doll, a suitcase with teeth and a talking toilet brush/holder combo with an natty hairdo and a penchant for career advice.
What does it all add up to? Why is it funny? Who knows? Who cares? This is the kind of comedy which bubbles up from material which is continually surprising thanks to the creativity of its creator and the seeming chaos of its delivery. It’s enormously good fun and although the most cynical of viewers may look on with little more than a puzzled look and the occasional disbelieving shake of the head, there is something here which will draw out a laugh of any other audience member.
Although the audience was robbed of the final punchline on the night this reviewer saw the show – such is the danger of sucking when you should blow – it didn’t really matter. The central message of the show is to just be nice and Spencer Jones’ Herbert does such a good job embodying this he can easily be forgiven this or any of the other minor shortcomings in the performance.