Paul Foot: Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major

Paul Foot’s offstage microphone isn’t working, so the pre-show announcement of Paul Foot - Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major is apparently ruined. What at first seems to be a technical fault actually serves as a perfect introduction to his absurdist shtick. Foot’s stage character is preoccupied with structure but contrives to get it all wrong.

Not everybody gets The Goons, Monty Python or Spike Milligan and they all deserve their reputation for greatness. It’s with such luminaries that Foot surely belongs.

We are then treated to some trademark humour based on bits of the show that he’s been told to cut out by his management “pen pushers”. Foot’s surrealism must look like gibberish on paper, so it’s easy to imagine them scratching their heads at “The Tale of Dionne Warwick’s Dangerously Loose Leg” and “Bourbon Cream Sadomasochistic Suburban Sex Session” and the like. Twenty minutes of “cut” material later and he apparently remembers that he hadn’t yet undertaken the off-stage announcement.

The introduction over, the nasal-voiced, superior clown (with a degree in Mathematics from Oxford) outlines the ‘official’ running order for the show. Cue a list of section headings like “Cruel Humour” and “Formal Humour from the Table”. Pay attention and you’ll find that each of these sections is layered with a complex joke structure, though I found it better to let the humour just wash over me. Either way, it is beautifully done.

Foot is in control of around four-fifths of his audience, building laughter or tension at will. At one pivotal moment in the show this control becomes explicit. He mounts the lap of a young man called James. He banters, then milks the laughter, then contrives to kill it with words like “calm” and “awkward”. Moments later, further trigger words have the audience laughing even harder, and it’s as though most of us are hypnotised.

I say most because, whilst I wasn’t there to review the audience, it must be said that Foot’s shows do tend to leave small pockets of the crowd silently bewildered - and tonight was no exception. You may hear the odd angry voice at the bar afterwards stating that, “it’s the worst thing they’ve ever seen.” He can divide a room. However, that doesn’t make his unique style any less magnificent. Not everybody gets The Goons, Monty Python or Spike Milligan and they all deserve their reputation for greatness. It’s with such luminaries that Foot surely belongs.

Reviews by Martin Walker

Pleasance Dome

Sarah Callaghan: 24

★★★
Assembly George Square Theatre

The Piff the Magic Dragon Show

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Radio Active

★★
Assembly Roxy

Andrew Lawrence: The Hate Speech Tour

★★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Patrick Kielty: Help

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Glistening in the wake of last night's pearl saga, premium line-caught Sally's clam fist choir socks it to the salt babes big time baybayyyy. Cutlery cage enquiries? First come, first preserved. Paul's most recent television appearances include Would I Lie To You, Never Mind The Buzzcocks, 8 Out Of 10 Cats and The Alternative Comedy Experience. 'An hour of exquisitely adept absurdity' (Scotsman). 'An entire room full of flabbergasted people as giggling subscribers to his baffling logic' (Time Out). 'Sublime, original and brilliant' (Independent).