Spencer Jones on taking Making Friends to Soho Theatre

After lockdown, Spencer Jones moved with his young family from London to Devon – nearer to the beach, closer to his Mum, and more chilled than the city. Was it an easy move? No. But was it the right choice? Also no. 

Jones’s new show, Making Friends, delves into his move and its reverberations, and explores what happens when we lose our connection to our social supports.

Q&A with Spencer Jones

What can you tell us about your new show Making Friends?

I can tell you should come and see it for a start.

At the end of lockdown (bad times) we decided to move to Devon (good times). The house we found was six minutes from the beach (if I drove like a prick) and on paper it was a dream move. I felt so smug. I’d cracked it. Somehow, from being silly for a job I now was a guy with a 45-metre extension cable and a petrol mower. The sun was shining, the kids LOVED their new school, and I was earning money from writing and acting. I thought I didn’t need to be in London anymore. If I wanted to audition, I could send them a tape I had recorded at home. I don’t mind a long drive so gigs were fine to get to. I loved singing in the car on my own. As they say in the West Country; IDEAL! I felt so lucky. But then things started to go wrong in my head, in my house, in my relationship and in the garden. I had a disagreement with a cockerel and then things started to unravel. I’m a comedian, so pain and misery and mistakes are really handy for giving you something to talk about in a live comedy show (once you have come to terms with them). the show is about that. But funnier. It’s the most personal show yet.

What was it that made you realise those serious themes could become a source of comedy?

This may surprise you, given the nature of how my finished live shows look, but they are always about really serious themes, but if you have ping pong balls for eyes or are wearing tights like I have in the past, people just tend to have a nice time, and go away singing the stupid (but extremely catchy and difficult to do and definitely chart worthy) songs, or wondering if I actually do Remember My Mum. In previous shows the dark shit is hidden under the surface and usually only I know where it came from. In this show I am very clearly telling you about it. Stage by stage. The downfall of Spencer Jones. But it is still funny. It’s the most ‘me’ I have been on stage. I won’t be bearing my soul like this again though. Might try ventriloquism next.

What’s it like to be taking the show to Soho Theatre?

My car. More than likely it will be M5/M4. The A303 is fun, but if you get caught behind a tractor, game over. That said the 303 is shorter and the nature of the slower roads mean the fuel consumption is very economical. I’ll let you know how I get on and get back to you.

How does stand-up compare to working on a scripted television show?

If you are not funny onstage it is COMPLETELY your fault and no one else’s. But if a TV show you mad isn’t funny you can blame all sorts of people. The director, the producer, the channel, legal department, costume, hair and make-up. I remember being on a job once and my tea didn’t quite have enough sugar in it and the knock-on effect that followed meant the show didn’t get recommissioned. Only joking. They are both a leap of faith into the unknown and along the way there are legends and twats. I’m a twat so I’m fine.

Is there anything you hope audiences take away from Making Friends?

The chairs? Imagine if every audience member took away the chair they were sat on? How funny would that be? If everyone did it, then the security wouldn’t have a chance and most would get out. Then imagine everyone took it home and only sat on it when they were watching Live at the Apollo? Or imagine it became the naughty chair for naughty children. Or imagine everyone put it in the middle of a field next to trainline for people on trains to look at and wonder “why is there a chair in the middle of that field?” Chairs across the country, in the middle of the fields. Lovely stuff.

I hope people take away that there is a bigger fuck up in the world than them: Me.

Spencer Jones ‘Making Friends’ is at Soho Theatre from 10 – 20 April 2024