Paul Foot's Comedy for Connoisseurs

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Strange is the only word to describe Paul Foot. OK, maybe odd. Or eccentric. Or bonkers – you get the gist.

Dressed in ringmaster’s coattails, bow tie and skulking round the stage, stooping almost double, he resembles Groucho Marx with ADD. His random agitated pacing is like Brownian motion, bearing no relation to the rhythm of his delivery, and is intensely offputting as he struggles to get the gig under way.

The downbeat introduction, however, is indicative of his vulnerable charm. He constructs elaborate situations, then starts doubting their credibility, before winning himself over and embracing the stupidity with total commitment.

He starts with an apologetic description such as: ‘I wouldn’t exactly fall it jokes, more concerns, really’ then allow those concerns to spiral out of control. The Baby On Board signs that have been mocked by countless comics, for instance, particularly vexes him, so he suggests a number of stupidly impractical alternatives before ultimately coming to the same conclusion as the rest.

Other routines about the polite response to being offered home-made cake, or over-examination of the phrase ‘living room’, equally start whimsical before being hyped into issues of huge importance, worthy of all his nervous energy. The comedy comes mostly from seeing a man get so worked up, taking his argument to painfully obscure, surreal extremes. It’s far from slick stand-up – although a lot of warped reasoning has obviously gone into the routines – and more like watching a descent into madness.

The highlight is his extended mime, unusual in that he speaks throughout. It’s wonderfully contrived, but if you go with the flow, it works brilliantly – right up to the epically daft conculsion in which Foot hops in circles, imaginary piss spraying to all points, while struggling in mime with his spring-loaded eyeball and a valuable antique vase. It’s a stupidly hilarious piece.

Such an oddball show almost inevitably misses the mark sometimes, and the awkwardness that’s so often endearing can easily top over to embarrassment. But this is the first time his hit-and-miss approach has hit so many bullseyes, and it’s certainly an unforgettable show.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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