Paul Foot : Words

By Elyce Phillips

In the opening minutes of ‘Words’, Paul Foot does his best to set the audience’s mind at ease. He gives a rough running order of the show’s themes, just to make sure that no-one gets caught off guard. However if, like myself, you haven’t seen a Paul Foot show before, no amount of introductory explanation is going to prepare you for what’s to come. ‘Words’ is frequently surprising, a little bit controversial and very, very funny.

Foot is a unique figure in the world of stand-up. He spasms across the stage in fits and starts, occasionally pausing to wrack his brain and make sure that his train of thought is correct. And it always is. Despite taking some staggering leaps of logic, when Foot gets to the end of his rambling path of argument, you find yourself seeing the sense in views on masculinity and biology that were initially absurd. Foot’s delivery style is hypnotic at times. He draws you with him as he diverts on screeching loops about inane party guests, only to jolt back to the topic at hand with a return to comparative calmness.

‘Words’ is more than straightforward stand-up. Foot’s section of madness is a wonderful kind of surrealist poetry. Words crash into each other to form meaningless phrases that are delivered with total sincerity. It’s a fascinating bit of comedy. The words have no grounding in reality and mean something different to everyone. For four and a bit minutes you find yourself in a room full of people laughing together for unknown reasons. Foot’s ‘disturbances’ are also scattered through the show – hilarious thoughts that feel like they tell an entire story in a sentence or two.

While most of the show is, as Foot points out, carefully written, his quick wit was on display in moments of audience interaction. Stray garbled comments from overenthusiastic audience members inspired a new Q and A section of the show. A lone dissatisfied man voicing his disapproval in the final minutes led to a wonderfully frenetic diatribe on the subjectivity of opinions, resulting in the man walking out, to the cheers of the rest of the audience.

‘Words’ is an incredibly refreshing piece of stand-up from a masterful comedian. You may not always understand what is going on or how you got there, but you will definitely find yourself laughing.

A heads up – Paul Foot sells merchandise and takes photos up the back at the end of his show, so leave a bit of room in your schedule after this one!

Words is on at The Hi-Fi until April 20