Paul Foot: Image Conscious
- Jay Richardson
- 10 October 2019
This article is from 2019
A distinctive comic whose absurdist vision is expansive and patience-testing
As befits a comic who develops his material at 'secret' gigs for his fans, the Guild of Connoisseurs, Paul Foot's latest show has both a clandestine and intimately chintzy aura, channelling as it does the genteel and particularly middle-class anxiety of hosting a suburban orgy. Projecting himself into the flustered mindset of a middle-aged woman on the cusp of both the menopause and sexual re-awakening, Image Conscious is a delightfully sustained melange of expansive storytelling and eccentric musings, jerkily propelled and occasionally impaired by this singular act's commitment to his own vision.
After performing his own, extended off-stage introduction, tipping into tedium, then back into humorousness by dint of pig-headed longevity, Foot eventually takes the stage, stomping around in angular fashion like a possessed marionette, occasionally launching himself into the front rows. Affecting to get serious for a while, bringing down the energy, he suggests that he wants to join the discussion du jour on mental health by sharing his depression. But it's a mischievous feint, as he launches into a series of broadsides aimed at the Royal Family, turning the institutional ludicrousness of The Firm's pomp and exalted position on itself, his mockery and class resentment whimsical yet scornfully cutting.
With his absurdist bent, it would be easy for Foot to transition between disparate bits with non-sequiturs. But he skilfully and unshowily links his routines together, introducing the perplexing admin of his imagined swingers party, marvelling at the physical logistics of lesbianism. Matters approach a climax with the arrival of several revered snooker players from the 1980s, with Foot hilariously conflating the drama of his sex party with the Falklands War and matches of renown from The Crucible's glory days.
Inbetween and around this core thread, he shares a few of his 'disturbances', surreal little thoughts that he's recorded, varying wildly in amusement value. He finishes with them too, in an ending that goes on much too long (one wickedly funny riff on Jimmy Savile's persuasiveness notwithstanding), draining some of the room's goodwill. For the most part though, Image Conscious is classic Paul Foot, foregrounding a heady blend of the quirky with the mundane through his animated delivery.
Paul Foot: Image Conscious is on tour until Saturday 7 December. Seen at The Stand, Glasgow.