Paul Foot // Melbourne International Comedy Festival

I was intrigued by the title of Paul Foot’s new show, ‘Kenny Larch is Dead’. How, I wondered, would that tie in with the show? Who is Kenny Larch? Another of Paul’s alter egos?

As it turns out, the name is completely immaterial. Kenny Larch is mentioned once in the female voiceover, and never even slightly alluded to by Paul during the show.

Not that it matters in the slightest. Paul is king of the absurd, and his following in Australia is quickly growing on the back of his Gala performances, which have in the last three years addressed the issues of moist cake, wheat intolerance in the First World War and ‘Baby on Board’ car stickers. A typical stand-up show, this ain’t.

After a quick, mumbled ‘hello’, Paul launches straight into a hilarious story about a woman with the world’s largest cheddar collection. There is a disused train line that runs through it, and Paul is concerned with what will happen should a train unexpectedly barge through.

It does, and that train happens to be the 8:47 to Geelong (“that’s a local reference. Some people say your comedy is dangerously alternative, Paul, but I know how to play the game”). The cheddar collection is ruined, much to the audience’s delight.

From there on Paul muses about the best way to grow cucumbers, how Linda McCartney’s sausages can ruin five-year-old birthday parties, and at one point predicts what will happen to the relationship of a couple in the crowd if the boyfriend, Adam, has a sex change and changes his name to Grenda (“like Brenda, but with a G”). His neurotic mannerisms, combined with crowd interaction, beguiling mullet, silver suit and mismatched socks, make for one of the most hilariously unique shows you will see.

The biggest laughs of the night come during an airline anagrams segment, complete with illustrated diagrams. The finale sees Paul stretching the limits of comedy by throwing out nonsensical phrases, which is less successful, before finishing with his “Disturbances”, a series of amusing anecdotes and “facts” read out from cards.

Paul Foot is an acquired taste, but if you’re looking for something off-beat then you won’t see a better show this festival.

4/5

The Hi-Fi Bar, Until April 21, Tickets $28-$35.

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