by Laura Ferguson
Skipping back to the stage and proceeding to meander around it with childlike exuberance he goes backwards and introduces the show. His entire set is like this. A Tarantino-esque play of the traditional pace of a comedy show. We get Chapter 2 before Chapter 1, the Epilogue before Chapter 5 and Chapters 3 and 4 both become a production inside another production. We revel in Foot’s capability to re-enact the minutiae of human life, particularly of those that prescribe to the Escalator Theory of success by social occasion.
His asides and vignettes are evocative of single-camera sitcoms that use fantasy and flashback as humour techniques to accomplish great humour. Foot achieves this as well, though there is a lack of the through-line you would expect from a sitcom. I find Foot’s entertainment refreshing. He relinquishes the notion that there is a prescribed layout to comedy; he even invents new types of comedy as he goes along. His pieces of literal surrealism makes me laugh heartily at their sheer ridiculousness and his delivery makes sure they land with maximum effect.
While I was expecting an anecdote relating to a piglet (hence the title, ‘Tis A Pity She’s A Piglet), a quarter of the way through I realise, in baffled obviousness, that this is not Paul Foot’s style. He is a random, eccentric man, and what you get will never be what you were expecting. While I find this unequivocally brilliant, it did polarise the audience. There are bands of us laughing loudly, thoroughly and continuously throughout the show, while some were sitting in attitudes of neutrality. Without speculating too much, I would suggest that if you wish to see Paul Foot, looking up some of his work online first would be a good idea. Going in already knowing his style would be a boon to exploring the delightful nuggets of comedy Foot digs up for us. Otherwise, some may find him alienating, which is not his intention nor does Foot deserve such an association.
Foot is manic and he sometimes exhausts me with his boundless energy, but always in a good way. He lunges, clambers, thrusts, vibrates, gambols, and trills about the stage in a way that I found so fun and engaging. I’ve found it a rarity in comedy to have a performer who uses so much stage space and I loved how excited Foot seemed to be there.
‘Tis A Pity She’s A Piglet is a hilarious romp into the psychedelic cataclysm that is Paul Foot’s mind. It is fascinating and unique, much different from the comedy shows I normally go to. He is fun and frothy, bubbling over with a happy liveliness. I left the theatre with cheeks sore and a residual osmosed energy that carried me through the night. I’m glad my first show of the New Zealand Comedy Festival has been with Paul Foot, despite the lack of a piglet.