PAUL FOOT | INTERVIEW
Luke Owain Boult speaks with surreal comedy master Paul Foot about his latest tour, where he gets his ideas from, and surrealism.
“I saw a piglet, and I thought it was a pity she were a piglet and not a person. People have slightly better lives than piglets do. All that mud. I can’t bear to think of it,” starts Paul in typical eccentric and surreal manner when asked about the name of his latest tour, ‘Tis A Pity She’s A Piglet. “Parts of the show itself are inspired by certain recent events, not the title. There’s flavours of all your favourite tropical issues such as terrorism and astronomy and Spiderman. It’s all in there. I don’t even know what to expect from it. It’s half surreal, half silly, and half hard-hitting satire…and one third trout.”
Paul Foot, without a doubt a comic genius, is famed for his bizarre musings and rants, in the same delivery as a Victorian ringmaster, on topics that few other comedians would think to go near, let alone dare. “I mainly laugh at wedding cakes falling over, or newsreaders messing up,” he explains when asked about his sense of humour. “I love it when weddings go wrong though. That’s the funniest thing in the whole universe. I guess my ideas just come from seeing a Shire Horse, or ordering a Chinese takeaway, or taking a walk by a pond” He however seems shocked that others would not consider the topics he does as areas of comedy: “What? People don’t think the dwindling numbers of Shire horses is an area for comedy? I thought everyone laughed at stuff like that. I often try out my new material at my Secret Shows first. So, the top Connoisseurs of my comedy see it first. And then I try out the comedy at various shows I do around the country. I eventually premier the new, completed show at the Edinburgh Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland, Sturgeon.”
Is there an element of improvisation in his performances? “It depends which performances. My tour shows are very carefully planned and executed, even if they don’t look that way. But when I do my Secret Shows in London for my Connoisseurs, I sometimes improvise the whole show, for 2.4 hours. I love stand-up comedy. It is my job, and my hobby, and it’s my only focus. All my creative energy goes on writing my stand-up shows. That’s what I really love doing.” Are there any differences in Welsh audiences compared to others around the country? “Not really. I find that, wherever I do a show, the people that come to see me are very plugged in and sophisticated. They know what to expect and they come to see the surreal humour. The shows in Wales are the same as anywhere else in the UK: always wonderful and filled with top quality people.”
Is there anything he wishes he knew when he started out? “I wish I’d known that, one day, I would be successful. Nowadays, weird and surreal comedy is quite popular, but when I started out I was one of the only weird ones, and no one wanted the weird comedy. I was spectacularly unsuccessful for about 14.3 years, earning no money and getting booed off stages. And it was very difficult, but I stuck to my instincts, and one day, after 14.3 years I became an overnight success. It would have been nice to know in those long years that it would all be OK one day.”
After this upbeat and oddly inspiring revelation, we end talking about his post-tour plans: “After this UK leg of the tour, I take ‘Tis A Pity She’s A Piglet to tour around Australia and New Zealand for two months. Then, after that, it will be time for the Edinburgh Festival again. And after that it will be more touring around the UK. I never stop touring. Touring is the dream of the comedian.”
Paul Foot: ‘Tis A Pity She’s A Piglet, Glee Club, Cardiff, Thurs 16 Feb. Tickets £13. Info: 012 1693 2248 / www.glee.co.uk; Pontardawe Arts Centre, Fri 17 Feb. Tickets: £14. Info: 017 9286 3722 / www.npttheatres.co.uk