Surrealist comedian Paul Foot is an Edinburgh Fringe institution. This year he returns to his favourite room at the Underbelly Cowgate to deliver his own brand of erratic comic fare. This isn’t a new hour, mind you, but a mixed set of old routines that vary with each show.
Much of Foot’s humour can be enjoyed over and over again.
The night I attended, before lights up, we had Danny Stumbles’ extended introduction (actually Foot mumbling into a mic offstage) eventually giving way to some ‘humour from the briefcase’ – which turned out to be nine word sentences read from bits of card. This meaningless prose is brought to life by Foot, funny in a way no one can understand.
We then enjoyed an extended advert for the Open University (which the great institution wouldn’t thank him for), before getting treated to a talk about loneliness – which was full of a sort of brutal pathos. This is trademark hilarious stuff from Foot, who ultimately makes himself the butt of the joke.
In the second half the tone changed somewhat, as we endured thirty increasingly dark minutes of Foot tormenting an innocent bed and breakfast landlady. Perhaps it was my familiarity with the routine (not one of my favourites) or maybe I just felt sorry for Foot’s victim, but somewhere in the first few minutes of this revenge fantasy I stopped laughing.
Much of Foot’s humour can be enjoyed over and over again. I could listen to old routines featuring ‘disturbances’ and ‘homophobic shire horses’ repeatedly, alongside classic skits from Python and The Mighty Boosh. Sadly, for me, this long tale of bullying a poor old women didn’t come close to Foot’s best.