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Fringe review: Paul Foot – Image Conscious

Adelaide Fringe

Question: what would happen If Dr Frankenstein was given the bodies of Basil Fawlty, Rowan Atkinson and Spinal Tap? Answer: Paul Foot. ★★★★½

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His signature mullet and glam-rock-meets-normcore dress sense say it all. This is a guy who’s not afraid to be different.

Reigning champion of anarchic absurdity, Foot has been sharpening his comedic talons for a couple of decades now. And it shows in the intelligent writing and delightfully wacky delivery of his latest show, Image Conscious.

A zoo keeper attempts to breast-feed a duck-billed platypus. A 53-year-old woman organises an orgy with famous snooker players of the 1980s. A soft-shell crab tries to make a better life for his family. It’s all completely bizarre and eye-wateringly, cheek-throbbingly hilarious.

In a recent radio interview, Foot described his performances as “two years of madness condensed into a single show”. It’s a fair description. He cavorts around the stage like a medieval jester who’s accidentally dressed himself as a 1980s office-worker.

Overcome with helpless laughter, you find yourself wondering how on earth a rant about the monarchy turned into a parliamentary speech about Matt Preston’s cannibalism.

What Foot excels at (aside from writing and delivery) is good, old-fashioned audience interaction. He screams in the faces of various front-row punters, grasps their shoulders and questions them intensely and, at one point, dry-humps an unsuspecting young man, all without causing offence. Part of his charm is the cheeky smile that punctuates his act and keeps everyone onside.

Some of the material suffers from being less than contemporary. A reference to Dennis Taylor spanking Stephen Hendry has tears streaming down the faces of those over 40 but the under-25s remain dry-eyed. Even Oscar Pistorius is a story too old for the younger members of the audience.

But if you like your comedy delivered via streams of cleverly-constructed gibberish (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?), it’s well-worth taking this fun-packed trip to Planet Bonkers. Utterly insane and insanely funny, Paul Foot is total comedy gold.

Paul Foot’s Image Conscious is showing in The Factory, The Garden of Unearthly Delights, until March 17. See more Adelaide Fringe reviews and stories here.

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