2017 marks 20 years since eccentric English comic Paul Foot first stepped onto a stage and began doing stand-up comedy. It’s a remarkable amount of time in a single field for any occupation, but it’s especially impressive given the nature of Foot’s work.
He’s been described in the past as a comedian who’s high-energy, hyper-literate, neverendingly bizarre and less thinking outside the box and more dismantling the box entirely. The fact that Foot is still able to elicit such gut-busting laughter in a room on the other side of the world – not only that, but perhaps be more popular now than ever before – speaks volumes of how much he still gets out of performing.
Truth be told, no two Paul Foot performances are ever going to be the same – even if the structure remains across an entire festival run, there will always be different interactions and improvisational moments that make your night with the mullet-toting madman. Besides, let’s face it – structure and Paul Foot never did quite go hand-in-hand.
Perhaps the single most important thing to know about Foot is that his set-ups and punchlines don’t always come at the obvious time or in the exact way that you’d expect them to. A one-liner about the film Titanic, for instance, scores one of the biggest laughs of the evening, if only for how its simple twist completely bowls over any anticipation one may have had for its conclusion.
There’s also an entire segment in which Foot reads jokes that are exactly nine words long. It’s hard enough for most comedians to be funny in 140 characters or less – the fact that Foot aces these bite-sized bits of humour shows his attention to detail and the method to his proverbial madness.
Without wanting to give too much away, the audience is also treated to stylised violence, some hilariously OTT character work and a whole chunk on Oscar Pistorius – a case that, now several years old, can seemingly be discussed in some odd ironic fashion. In a lesser comedian’s hands, it wouldn’t have a leg to stand on. With Foot, it’s as wonderfully weird and outright hilarious as you might expect.
Essentially, ’Tis A Pity She’s A Piglet is a show about nothing in particular. When you’re watching it, though, it feels like everything you could have ever asked for.
Paul Foot played The Comedy Store on Wednesday May 3 as part of Sydney Comedy Festival 2017.Write a Letter to the Editor