Comedy reviews: Spencer Jones Presents The Herbert in Eggy Bagel

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If, as Spencer Jones has threatened, this could be the swansong for his inspired character The Herbert, then it’s been a delight to watch him develop from an inexplicable dickhead to a dickhead sharing a growing, even touching, amount about his family.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Heroes @ The Hive (Venue 313)

Fully committed to his own brand of household item prop-based lunacy, sporting inflating trousers, tights over his head and his usual recourse to bulbous, cartoon eyes, there’s a simple, untrammelled and childish joy to Jones’ physical tomfoolery.

But while the bulk of his props remain discarded toys and poundshop purchases, Eggy Bagel isn’t quite as lo-fi as his shows of previous years. He’s ramped up the number of self-looped musical samples he creates and delivers a hilarious modern update on the ventriloquist’s ruse of manipulating a mask on a victim’s face. Reminiscent of Nina Conti and Paul Zerdin’s recent high-profile use of their set-pieces, it’s arguably got far greater comic potential. With Jones and The Herbert apparently merging to a slight extent, he’s also deploying an increasing number of comprehensible words amidst his Cockneyesque blurts and gibberish. Relating the unlikely tale of his father’s career as an undercover cop, there’s just enough well observed detail to suggest there’s more than a shred of truth in it.

Meanwhile, through the unconventional aid of a headless baby doll, he conveys his love-hate-love relationship with his son, with The Herbert no longer just a straightforward pressure valve for fatherhood.

Cheery silliness always ultimately prevails but Jones has developed a capacity in his alter-ego to explore darker, more poignant moments as well. And although most of the gags remain quick-hit visuals, the more outlandish stay with you long after the show has ended. Whatever his next venture, it’ll certainly be worth keeping an eye out for.

Until 28 August. Today 8:50pm.

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