Comedy review: Paul Foot – Words
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Paul Foot – Words at Underbelly Cowgate (Venue 51), reviewed by Ashley Davies
Paul Foot shuffles skinnily on stage in a ridiculous silver jacket, too-short tie and high-waisted trousers, with a combination padlock dangling from his waistband. His extreme mullet makes it look like a child cut his fringe while he was asleep, and he has the face of a quizzical but elated teenage eagle.
Much like the most accomplished faux-bumbling 1970s comedians, he is funny before he even says anything. And in that same style, he fiddles with his watch, pretends he doesn’t really know what he’s doing, glances around erratically – and then blows our minds with an hour of exquisitely adept absurdity.
There is a smart postmodernism to his act. Early on he explains what we should expect: the show will include a three-and-a-half-minute rant, there will be some “disturbances” (one or two sentences bulging with whimsy) and he will be asking: “Isn’t life a palaver?”
His rants parody the lazy conventions of some styles of observational comedy – the tone is Basil Fawlty but the content is deliberately thin. The fact that he tells us exactly how long the rant will last weirdly and cleverly renders his own nonsensical style more sensible than that of those he is lampooning.
The most beautiful section of the show involves him reeling off random words that he says will be funny even though we won’t know why. And, heavens to Betsy, he’s right. How can the phrase “I heard you say a turban word” keep you laughing for hours?
He punctuates the show with daft little stiff-backed bows that give him the air of an eccentric little boy. But Foot – who studied maths at Oxford – is clearly an extremely intelligent man and a master in disciplined chaos.
He had a cult following before appearing on Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and this Fringe show is bound to attract people who like him for his television work, but they will get so much more than they hoped for.
He is completely in charge. An hour in his company is one of wet-faced glee and it’s over in a flash.
Until 25 August. Today 7:30pm
More info: Paul Foot – Words is at Underbelly Cowgate
Originally published in The Scotsman