Down in The Hive (Edinburgh’s moistest nightclub) there is an act that is a pure hit of Fringe silliness. Spencer Jones is The Herbert, a mostly non-verbal character who wants to play around with toys, trinkets and odd objects. It’s prop comedy, a bit of mime, a lot of clowning, and it’s superb. He’s been compared to Mr Bean and Tommy Cooper, but there’s a far more surreal edge to Jones, as well as an air of tragedy. In a funny way, of course.
The words ‘props’ and ‘clowning’ might put some off, but everyone in the audience loved it. Jones is a great physical comedian, with excellent timing, and can make us laugh just by smiling and making a strange noise. There is some dialogue in the show; Jones assumes a few other characters, usually disapproving members of his family. There’s even something of a narrative, involving a nuclear power station and The Herbert’s unfortunate son. This is where the tragedy comes in, and it’s eerie and affecting.
There’s also something tragic about a grown man clowning around wearing white tights in a smelly Edinburgh club. Some of the biggest laughs in the show come from Jones acknowledging the weirdness of it all. There’s something classically Fringe about The Herbert, something truly alternative. Recommended.