There are going to be two kinds of people who read this review: fans of Paul Foot, and people who are curious about Paul Foot. If you're a fan of Paul Foot then you can stop reading after the next paragraph. If you're curious about Paul Foot, you might want to hang in until the end.
He grabs the mic and the insane journey begins
Image Conscious is absolute textbook Paul Foot stand-up comedy gold. His delivery is so completely perfectly 'him', and his delicately constructed rants are such a joy to experience, that all you Paul Foot fans will be delighted and should book tickets right now.
For those of you who don't know Paul Foot yet, allow me to explain the levels of lunacy you can expect from this year's show. He steps out onto the stage, his trademark mullet looking magnificent, a padlock swinging from a belt loop, his neck adorned with beads, and a jacket with shoulder pieces that Grace Jones would be jealous of. He grabs the mic and the insane journey begins: from randy marmosets all the way to a reconstruction of the Oscar Pistorious trial, via suburban orgies, 1990s snooker rivalries, the Falkland Islands and Garry Lineker.
It'd be too easy to dismiss Paul Foot as a ranting, rambling madman when his comedy craft is of the highest order, and I suspect that every minute of this new show has been meticulously written and refined. It's simply too intricate to be chaotic. Foot knows exactly what he's doing as he hops around the stage accusing the audience of "trying to trick" him as he lectures us on the link between put-upon fathers and soft shell crabs.
There is a method to Foot's madness that you might only realise after the show is over. The callbacks come thick and fast, and he drags us down long, frustrated tangents only to pull us back out onto the narrative thread that we'd forgotten we were on. He's incredibly silly and really very sweet, often finishing a bit with a cheeky sideways grin to the audience. There was also very little to find offence with in the whole set. A few passing comments about "kids these days" and the menopause were inoffensive in Foot's hands.
He's pretty surreal and frenzied, so if you don't like that sort of thing then Image Conscious probably isn't for you. If you do, then it probably is, and you should prepare yourself for some weird stuff at the Underbelly.