Soho Theatre, Soho, London, 03/12/2019.
Whenever I’d seen Spencer Jones before it had mostly been a gloriously funny example of clowning at its best, sure there’d been the odd throwaway line or brief snippet of a song, but the majority had been Jones messing around with props and being silly in all of the best possible ways. So I wasn’t expecting his latest hour long show to have so much stand up in it, but it’s equally as good as his physical comedy and he’s merged the two together to create some truly special.
Taking to the stage in complete darkness he starts the set as if on the phone to his wife, searching for a light switch and acting a little lost, and then is rather surprised as to the fact that the audience are in his living room. He’s happy to have us here though, and what follows is an exploration of Jones’ life in a year where he decided against going up to the Edinburgh Festival as he wanted to be a better Dad, something he might well have accomplished but which also caused him to go a little mad as well.
His lapse in sanity is all too our benefit though, as it’s resulted in a show which sees him talk about how he chose to fill the time that he’d normally spend putting an hour of comedy together, which partially because he was broke after Upstart Crow came to an end was spent roaming the streets for the things people leave behind – hence the title of the show – that included a dvd player and vacuum cleaner, the latter of which Jones and his kids made great props out of.
When he finally was paid he bought a sampler which he has on stage with him, and which allows him to produce some enormously funny and impressive songs just from the random noises he makes and occasional line of dialogue, all of which are incredibly delightful. As is the snippet of a song that he sings at the end of the gig, and all of these elements of the show made me wish for a full length musical from the man, and hey, hopefully we’ll get that one day.
That said if it were all songs we’d miss out on some genuinely stunning stand up, from tales of how his son and daughter (or “Woman child”, as he calls her) interact to his relationship with his now deceased father (though worry not, while briefly melancholy this is in no way a “Dead Dad” show) along with other things that people throw away, with a segment on shopping lists being a real highlight.
Jones has always been an impressive comedian but with “The Things We Leave Behind” he’s stepped up and become an amazing one, easily one of the funniest in the country, and this is one of the best shows I’ve seen this year. Not only is it hilarious from beginning to end but it’s also thoughtful too, and it’s an hour of comedy which will remain in my memory for a long old time indeed.