Foot romps through comic terrain

Paul Foot. Picture: Anthony Tran


Paul Foot

4 stars

Perth International Comedy Festival

Mt Lawley Bowling Club

Review: David Zampatti

My first encounter with Paul Foot, at the Opening Gala of last year's Perth International Comedy Festival, left me quite literally helpless with laughter. On that occasion, his magnificent, surreal diatribe about sinister vans, and glasses that can make them disappear, quite did me in.

I've seen him three times since, most recently at the first of his four shows at the Mt Lawley Bowling Club for this year's festival, and I've slightly downgraded my opinion of him. I now think he's only one of the funniest people on earth.

His act defies description, or at least one that adequately prepares you for what you're about to encounter. I can at least warn you that he looks like a slightly less demented Marty Feldman, with a voice somewhere between Dudley Moore and Frank Spencer. He's one of those rare comedians who could crack you up reading the phone book (something I wouldn't put past him).

But it's his mind that's his real weapon. One of the segments in his 53-minute act - he tells us what he plans to do and how long it will take in advance, because, he says, he wants to spare us any surprises - is called My Madness. Mad it may be, but there's method to it.

So that when he offers to prove that men don't like beer, it's the jumping-off point for a wild, sometimes frenzied, romp that, somehow, lands us at a Neighbourhood Watch garden party peopled by some of the most hideous racists, sexists and, especially, homophobes, ever to worm their way into a comedy routine. And that, in turn, leads to a glorious treatise on gay history and genetics that defies logic but might convince you anyway.

Why do drunk drivers always mow down promising students and pillars of the community but never paedophiles? Would you (he asked an increasingly nervous young bloke in the audience) have sex with every man in Australia if it meant that no-one would ever die?

Paul Foot's not for everyone. Sometimes his physical comedy is more convulsive than compulsive, once in a while his humour is so deep rooted that it's hard to get at. There were some at his sold-out show who sat stony-faced as he careered way over their heads.

But, and much more often, you'd suddenly hear defenceless, almost whimpering, laughter as this singular comedian got someone right between the eyes.

Paul Foot performs until Sunday.