• Catherine Flutsch

Michael Spicer: The Room Next Tour

★★

Review: Michael Spicer: The Room Next Tour on tour at multiple locations until 4 December. Book here.


[Disclosure: The Oxford Playhouse provided me with a ticket for the purposes of this review.]

I love Michael Spicer’s comedy. At a time, last year, when things were looking very bleak and the answers that politicians gave to life-savingly important questions were terrifyingly inept, Michael brought some levity to our lives. Not many people made me laugh in 2020; Michael was one of them. For that - Michael has built up an enormous reservoir of goodwill from his audience.


Watch the Michael's Prince Andrew video on his Youtube channel here:


I was thrilled when I found out Michael was touring with a new show – called The Room Next Tour. For those who don’t know, Michael came to fame in 2020 with his YouTube videos. These consist of clips of public figures, usually politicians, being interviewed - interspersed with shots of Michael, pretending to be the person in the next room, advising the politician on how to answer the questions.


Michael's Matt Hancock "Isle of Wight" video.


The emotional intelligence gap between Michael’s suggested answers, and what the politicians actually says is hilarious. Michael disseminated his videos through his twitter feed – many went spectacularly viral and he was able to give up his job and become a comedian, full time. A rare pandemic success story.


Michael's Boris Johnson "I Build Model Buses" video.


With Michael's show, I was looking forward to seeing which news interviews he would choose to highlight – shining a light on the hypocrisy and dangerous incompetence of the person speaking. From the press photos, it looked like Michael would be live in the theatre – acting as the adviser while the interview played out on a big screen. This seemed like a fun way to spend an hour.


Michael's Priti Patel "Counter-Terrorism" video.


I haven’t watched Michael’s videos in a while – so before the show, to remind myself how funny he is, I went to his YouTube channel and spent 45 minutes watching his videos. They really are hilarious.


Michael's Matt Hancock "Diversity of Thought" video.


When we sat down to enjoy the show - I opted to watch the livestream at home rather than go to the theatre – I was increasingly surprised to see that his show is largely made up of the material on his twitter feed and his YouTube channel that went viral – which is freely available for you to watch, right now.


Michael's President Trump and the Finnish President video.


In the show, the stage is set up with a big screen in the middle. To stage right, there is a desk, set up in the same way as the desk in Michael’s videos – full of folders and notes – ready for Michael to advise the politician in the next room. On stage left, there is a music stand – with Michael’s notes to read to us about how he went viral and to recreate or narrate some of his other videos.


Michael's job interview tips video.


Sometimes, he re-enacts his best loved videos live – the Priti Patel counter terrorism video – for example. Sometimes, he just sits while the video plays on the big screen. Sometimes he leaves the stage, while we watch a video.

Michael's fictional phone transcripts between Blair-Clinton, which went viral in 2016.


During the show, I was increasingly amazed and bemused. The comedy in the show comes almost entirely from material in Michael's YouTube videos and tweets – not by the sparse live talk by Michael. I hadn't seen the Churchill video before - it was quite funny, watching it on the big screen. I may not have seen the Trump rally video with Michael's commentary before either - though it felt like I had as videos featuring Trump as President don't really need anything else to make them terrifying and funny at the same time.


Michael Spicer's fictional tweet that was taken seriously by Have I Got News for You in 2016.


It was a strange experience, watching familiar YouTube videos and tweets, on a screen that was being filmed and live streamed into my home - two screens removed. It must also be strange to go to the theatre in real life – finally to get away from the endless screens - only to watch Youtube videos and tweets on a giant screen in your theatre seat and pay money for the privilege.


It’s my opinion that asking people to pay between £15 - £19.50 (depending on which theatre you see it in) for a one-hour show largely made up of YouTube videos and tweets that have almost all been already published by Michael and are available for free – is not the way to maintain the reservoir of goodwill that you have carefully and beautifully built up during 2020.


Even if the ticket price is peanuts to you and you haven't seen any of Michael's videos before – I can’t recommend that you see this show. It’s just not that fun to go to the theatre or livestream a show that, for the most part, replays and/or recreates YouTube videos and tweets.

Square Stage