Walking out onto the stage wearing his classic red-hoodie black-top combo, Michael Spicer appears as though he’s stepped straight out of our lockdown Twitter feeds. To his right, is a large lecture podium; to his left is an overflowing, mug-laden desk; and behind him, a projector screen. Immediately adopting a droll, on-stage persona, he gives the audience a weary glance before beginning.
Describing the format of the show to be a part lecture on his experiences of going viral, and part ode to the clips which got him there in the first place, Spicer appears surprisingly at home in the packed-out lecture theatre. Before he gets too comfortable though, he’s beckoned quickly to the desk, as behind him Boris Johnsons’ flustered, mid-interview face looms onto the screen. He is about to be asked what he does to relax and, on the stage in front of him, Spicer is about to show us the very first Room Next Door clip which propelled him to Twitter fame.
If by some great absence, you are not one of the six million viewers of Spicer’s videos, then this provides a strong introduction to Spicer’s shtick – wherein he plays an increasingly exasperated aide to a true-life host of feeble politicians. Attempting to direct their mangled attempts to seem both professional and human, a surprisingly difficult task for many, Spicer’s videos are best known for his irate outbursts – with insults for the PM ranging from a “bowl of porridge”, to a “container full of wank”.
With his success based largely on short-form video content, and rooted predominantly in the fast-whirling daily news cycle, I was curious how this internet niche would translate into an hour-long stage production. The answer, of course, was with roaring success. Delivered with a delightful, but dull-faced seriousness, the lecture segments of the performance offered a chronological flick through some of his earlier works. Beginning with his series of doctored exchanges between the Prime Minister and the President of the United States and shifting to video clips of Jose Mourinho, Spicer breathes new life into his older content.
Cheerfully mocking the Twitter users who took these exchanges to be real, Spicer gives brief airtime to discussing the nature of fact and fiction on Twitter, although he doesn’t linger too much in the technicalities. Rather, his discussions of the platform have an oddly nostalgic twang for those of us who’ve lived through much of the last six years whilst scrolling. Paying ode to one of the best days of Twitter, ‘Puddle Watch Day’ – a day spent watching a live stream of a large puddle, which has only recently been challenged by Windy Plane Day – Spicer’s show is infused with online titbits, that perfectly encapsulate the chaotic thrill of the Twitter timeline.
From a bizarre Green Cross Road safety campaign to his own skit interacting with an old video clip of Winston Churchill and a real-time clip of Priti Patel, Spicer cleverly blends the projected and on-stage elements of the show. Crediting his success, in part, to the torrent of stupidity that has made political satire increasingly accessible over the last two years, Spicer is unafraid to state his mind, which he does with gusto. Packed full of mischief, The Room Next Door was a hilarious hour of comedy, and a clear reminder to take a self-guided romp through the backlogs of Spicer’s Twitter feed because you never know what mischief you’ll find.
Michael Spicer: The Room Next Door is at Assembly George Square Studios (Studio One) August 19-28 at 15:40.
Image credit: courtesy of Michael Spicer, provided to The Student as press material.