Paul Foot is a man prone to overthinking things.
As our interview commences, I ask the UK comedian how he’s enjoying his trip to Australia so far. Most would treat a question like this as idle chatter, but he considers his answer for a good long while. “I’m about five-eighths of the way through my trip, or maybe seven-elevenths, and it’s going very nicely thank you,” he says.
“I should like to stay on a bit longer,” he continues, “but when I finish my tour of Australia, I have very exciting things to do in the United Kingdom, and then shortly after that, I have very exciting things to do in other parts of the world. Touring is the best fun ever, although we must remember that one day, I won’t be able to go to Australia or anywhere ever again, because I’ll be dead.”
While Foot is something of an eccentric, he is quick to insist that all comedians fall into that category in some way or another. “A lot of comedians are socially-awkward and a little bit peculiar,” he says. “Most of us have some sort of social idiosyncrasy – that’s probably what makes us comedians. The ability to get on stage and make people laugh doesn’t necessarily equate to you being the life of the party.”
“I think that, as comedians, we have a common bond,” he continues. “We all do the same job, so we respect each other, because we know what it’s like, and we know of the fears and dangers involved. Some people imagine that comedians are all very depressed backstage, and some think that comedians are hilarious and tell each other jokes all the time – I think that, just as in real life, the truth is somewhere in between. We’re just quite normal really, yet we’re not normal at all.”
Foot will be coming to Sydney later this month with his new show, Kenny Larch Is Dead. If you’re wondering who that is, though, you may be left in the lurch, as the title of the show bears no relation at all to the content contained within. The show itself pushes Foot’s freewheeling style even further than normal – without giving too much away, he tells me that he has lately been interested in pushing the outer limits of the absurd, and that we can expect the kind of ‘utter madness’ that resists any kind of interpretation or analysis.
On the subject of things that resist interpretation and analysis, Foot’s hair is an entity unto itself. Close cropped at the front, wild and free at the back, it’s become his signature look. “My hairdresser created it about 10 years ago, and modelled it on my personality,” he says. “Some people think it’s a mullet, but according to my hairdresser, it’s not, because a mullet has to do with the weight on the sides versus the back, or something technical like that. He calls it a Paul Foot.”
The look hasn’t yet caught on among the human population, although Foot tells me that he has seen many goats sporting it. “I’ve worked with goats a number of times in my career,” he says. “Once, I took a goat around a farm while presenting to camera. She was very nervous, and would shy away from the camera, but after a while, she realised you were actually meant to look into it. From then on, she’d look right into it whenever she ate a piece of grass, like she was showing off. They’re very intelligent animals, goats,” he says. “I’ve got a great affinity with them.”
BY ALASDAIR DUNCAN
Paul Foot brings Kenny Larch Is Dead to The Comedy Store on April 25 and April 27.