Paul Foot: 'Tis A Pity She's A Piglet | Review by Steve Bennett
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Paul Foot: 'Tis A Pity She's A Piglet

Review by Steve Bennett

What’s this about a camembert piglet? It’s not in the show… But if you’re going to be worried about little things like that not making sense, Paul Foot’s stream of unique eccentricities are not going to be for you.

He’s been around long enough now for audiences to know what to expect from his routines, or ‘pieces of humour’ as he idiosyncratically refers to them. Ranty, surreal flights of fantasy delivered in his peculiar style. With limbs flailing randomly, his body convulsing back and forth with his comic rhythms, he seems to have modelled his performance technique on the inflatable men that blow in the wind outside car dealerships.

For 2016, he says he’s created a new form of comedy ‘literal surrealism’, described as ‘humour that is possible,but highly unlikely’ - thus little verbal portraits of the baby with BO or the amateur astronomer-stroke-professional prostitute. There are no segues, or even concluding punchlines between routines just a ‘that’s the end of that bit,’ and we move on

Notably for this master of the absurd, this year he’s mixed some real issues into the random diatribes, and it can be a disconcerting juxtaposition. From terrorism to creepy, sexist old men disconcertingly flirting with young waitresses, to Oscar Pistorius murdering Reeva Steenkamp, to seeing beyond disability in he most unlikely of scenarios. Online trolls seem to be something he’s had particular first-hand problems with, and even if reading out mean tweets has become a stand-up staple, Foot’s single example from the US Bible Belt works very well.

Foot’s not beyond rage of his own, though, aggressively, if stupidly, going head-to-head with the front row in a diatribe about the people who might have been in the empty seats,or even getting his anger issues out by punching a soft toy in the face. Not even Frankie Boyle’s done that. He closes with an intense in-your-face rant about breakfast that could be his version of Monty Python’s Spam sketch with its incessant repetition.

There are some nice gags and descriptions across the show – euphemistically calling a cow a ‘beef cloud’ is a delight and the long-married couple on holiday niggling each other with bitter arguments, begrudging each other’s very existence, is a vivid description of decayed love worthy of the legitimate theatre.

He has a careful use of language that manifests itself in unlikely places. ‘What if Spiderman was a right bigot?’ he asks in set-up to one bit of silliness… the well-placed but superfluous ‘right’ adding just that extra bit of comic emphasis.

But others of the routines just don’t bite. Talking of the follies of single-sex education is strong – and there’s a cracking gag about why school is definitely bad. But there’s little to be gleaned from his gleeful recounting of vandalising the sixth-form common room, an odd celebration of teenage nihilism. Speaking in the unnatural language of tabloid headline writers is an old joke, too, so ‘critic raps gag man Paul, 42’, on that count.

His own version of haikus, nine-word phrases written on card, don’t really zing, either but do temporarily alter the pace of his oddness, but not enough to offer real light and shade amid the collection of ‘pieces of humour’ that are all pretty similar in tone, and never build up to anything.

Review date: 23 Aug 2016
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Underbelly Cowgate

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