Paul Foot is certainly no stranger to the absurd. Across a career of carefully concocted silliness, Foot has cultivated a dedicated following through TV appearances and regular touring, sticking very much to his established oeuvre of oddness which has delighted and befuddled in equal measure. His latest show, ‘Tis a Pity She’s a Piglet, didn’t stray from this template, and instead indulges in a rarefied style he called “literal surrealism”.
After the opening section of the show, with oddball poetry from the deadpan, engaging Malcolm Head, Foot headed straight for some familiar territory, though a routine about what might have happened to the people from the empty seats in the front row was an effective flight of fancy, rivaled by a neat set-piece where he took out his anger by punching a soft toy in the face.
One of the undoubted strengths of Foot’s work is his linguistic capabilities, as he has a brilliant knack for joyous turns of phrase in addition to perfectly honed gags. But it sometimes felt like there was too much emphasis being placed on this, with the show consequently feeling too uneven in quality, though not in tone, and material which often veered too close to the nonsensical for comfort. Nevertheless, there were routines which stood out despite this, such as a closing riff about breakfast which was disarmingly strange and used clever repetition to harness big laughs.
An encore featuring a routine about homophobia was actually a brief glimpse of something more; a different and more powerful side allied with Foot’s surrealism, while still providing plenty of gags. It functioned perfectly well as a change of pace here, but you can’t help but wonder whether an entire show focusing his whimsical view on bigger topics would be very special indeed.