Another year means another Paul Foot show that I just had to see. This year, Paul brought along a support act in the shape of comical poet, Malcolm Head. Malcolm has a refreshing persona on stage, with his quirky dress sense, aka an over-sized jumper, schoolboy rucksack and small bongo drum, with a National Trust cap to top it all off, to promote the charity (inner workings at play there, as there’s a lot to be gained from having the National Trust on side, apparently).
This poet’s haikus are almost anti-jokes: deadpan and literal, but delivered intentionally tentatively. Malcolm came prepared for heckles of any kind (you’ll have to see him live to learn more) and also had a supply of observational poems and odd thoughts he sometimes writes down. He is a very quaint comedian with a quiet, calm voice but a powerfully funny comedy behind it; I really liked him a lot.
Paul’s show, on the other hand, was mismatched and frantic but planned meticulously and performed effortlessly, with a double-bluff fake entrance and lots of shouting and running around in circles- this style of comedy is niche, to put it mildly.
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a performer so happy to be on stage in front of a crowd, or so eager to become a part of the audience himself (at the expense of a poor man on the front row). Armed with a stack of whimsical stories, which we are assured are all lies, and a whole new batch of brilliant Disturbances, Paul had the audience in the palm of his hand. A hand that can’t keep still, mind, for this strange comedian’s physical ticks and exaggerated jolts, almost convulsions, are enough to convince an audience that he may be having some form of breakdown before their very eyes. His movements are air-guitar-esque, with hair flicking and head banging that tired him out so much, he had to take off his snazzy jacket.
But a talent of Foot’s is that he can effortlessly swap in and out of his seemingly uncontrollable lunacy, and come out with something quite profound, whether that be in the context of his ‘Hindu Humour’ or his take on homophobia (an extension, perhaps, of his infamous ‘levels of homophobia’ routine that explained the very worst kinds of homophobia, that are increasingly extreme, to say the least).
Paul showed his wicked side with pointless hypotheses, and here again I draw comparisons with Rich Fulcher’s Tiny Acts Of Rebellion, which highlights the most pointless but life-affirming ways to get your own back on the world, like deliberately upsetting owners of a bed and breakfast by abusing the unspoken rules of the breakfast diner. He also managed to mount the same man three times, scream at another man for being allegedly homophobic, and also give us insight into his life as a dinner party host.
I loved this evening of absolute madness and look forward to Paul’s next tour (you can still buy tickets for his current tour here) and I have also found a new hobby of meticulously checking Malcolm’s Twitter feed for more of his hilarious poetry.