Venue: Underbelly (Cowgate)
Paul Foot has made a name for himself on TV shows such as Never Mind the Buzzcocks, where his eccentric character was allowed to flourish. This year, his show offers up more of the weird stories and peculiar rants that we’ve come to expect from him.
As is the case with a lot of contemporary stand up, jokes are left out in favour of long and rambling storytelling. Foot opened with a brilliantly silly story about Britain’s largest cheddar cheese collection, and how it was destroyed in a rail accident. This was followed up with a series of short tales, each one stranger than the last, before getting into the main part of his act.
Some of the funniest moments happened when Foot got involved with the audience. At one point a student was picked from the crowd (coincidentally a York student), and lectured on why they should drop out and join the Open University instead. He went on to describe the bleak life of an OU student in painful detail, and ran with it for as long as was possible. Foot has a habit of doing this kind of thing, taking a rather mundane point and pushing it to the extreme for maximum effect.
Sometimes the storytelling wore thin, however Foot’s onstage character can work the audience well, and reel them back in just as they are about to fall away. His appearance and demeanour do a lot to get the audience on side as well – the 80s jacket, the unique hairstyle and the bouncy walk. Without such a curious persona it would be far more difficult for Foot to tell his rambling tales.
Some might criticise Foot for sticking too closely to his usual style of giddy comedy, but its too late for him to give it up now. And besides, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.