We first saw Paul live last year at the Union Chapel and his absurd comedy almost broke me. On that particular occasion, it was van based humour and was incredibly difficult to relay to other people without sounding like a loon. We’ve also seen Paul on TV (mainly Never Mind the Buzzcocks) but he truly shines in person, so when we found out he was performing his show “Hovercraft Symphony in Gammon # Major” in a local venue, tickets were purchased without a second thought.
The West End Centre in Aldershot is a cute little venue with a bar and tiny theatre, and it was a great place to see Paul (although, as we always seem to manage, we ended up sitting near the loudest people in the entire place). Housed inside a former victorian school, we’ve not really considered it before, but now we know where to park, I’ll definitely be checking their events schedule.
Out first for a 20 minutes set was Malcolm Head, a poet and (full time assistant-archivist at Kent Police Museum, Chatham) who shared his work which included some beat poetry and haikus. He was very low key and understated, but hilariously deadpan – I loved him. He won me over with a stunning haiku about Bono and this gem:
After fulfilling contractual obligations for his National Trust membership, Malcolm made way for Paul who started his set with such ridiculously high energy. His set was structured to the point of actually telling us upfront what he’d be covering, but that just made it more brilliant, especially because the segues between each section were nonsensical. He whizzed through insanely frenzied rants (all lies he reassured us) including observations on the Essential Abba Collection, airlock humour, and his platitudinous friend who may have killed her husband but it’s ok, tomorrow is another day.
I cannot begin to explain why I was crying with laughter at a joke about a reggae obsessed cleaner with spinal failure, or why the couple in front of us were bent over double seemingly in physical pain through the entire set. I think some audience members were genuinely bewildered which made it even funnier. Paul Foot was everything I expected and more, deftly brushing off some weird heckling, and even popping out the front after the show to sign merch (which I am deeply regretting not buying).
It was utter preposterousness and I loved every second.
Oh, and the photo above is of some artwork in the hallway of the theatre. Husband told me to take it, and I was too shy to get a photo of Paul after the Dr Buckles shame of last year.