At The Velvet Onion we strive to bring our peelers top-notch information about the acts that we cover. And the newly-Buzzcocked Paul Foot is no exception! During his recent visit to Stockholm we managed to persuade the charming comedian – and honorary member of Booshdom - to give TVO’s Swedish correspondent Aggie an exclusive interview.
To hear about the people that influence him, his thoughts on working with Noel Fielding, just what he’s thinking with that (singular) outfit, and what really happened to that dead badger, read on…
Paul Foot is currently enjoying some long-overdue time in the limelight following recent appearances on Never Mind the Buzzcocks and even Come Dine With Me. An accomplished comedian, he’s won several acclaimed awards (BBC New Comedy Award, Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award) as well as reaching the finals on NBC’s Last Comic Standing in 2008. Earlier this year, he premièred his new stand-up show, Ash in the Attic - directed by Noel Fielding, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The show enjoyed positive reviews, further cementing his status as a must-see British cult comedian.
Hi Paul, how did you find yourself here in Stockholm, Sweden?
I am here because… I was told to come here. Because it was going to be fun and I like going to new places. I’ve not been here before, I’ve been to Denmark to do gigs there and I am going to Norway next year. I like going abroad and meeting new people, it’s fun and I like going on air planes so that is another reason. Also because it is my job and my hobby. If someone says “go to a place”, I go to them.
How do you feel Edinburgh went?
It was a great success and it was my best show ever. I sold lots of tickets: saving me from bankruptcy! It sold really well and the show got good reviews. Not that I ever read reviews, but I’m told we had good reviews. So it was a big success, good fun and lots of nice people. I had lots of nice meals… I was alive.
Did you manage to see any other comedians while in Edinburgh?
I didn’t see many people because the first ten days I was fiddling with the show everyday and changing the end slightly. The second ten days I had the flu so I was in bed all day, got up, did my show and went back to bed. It didn’t affect my performance though. And the last ten days I just partied with friends, messed about, drinking, meals and having grasshopper liquors.
Did you bring your badger with you to the gigs? The one you got from [STV chat-show] The Hour?
Well, that is funny, because when I was on that TV-show they gave me and Noel a badger and a fox. But they were television gifts which means that as soon as the cameras turn off, you give it back and put it back in the props bag. That kind of gift. A pretend gift on TV. You have to say: “Oh, thank you so much for my gift” and then the cameras stop… So I do not have my badger.
You have a guild of connoisseurs instead of a fan club. Where did that idea come from?
I don’t know… it was about five years ago when I decided to get more for people who really liked my comedy. There are some people who really like it and some people who aren’t sure about it and I thought: “What’s the point of always performing to half people who like it and half people who don’t like it? Why not just get all the people who like it, all together in one group and just perform to them?” That’s where the idea came from. I suppose the idea is that the connoisseurs are connoisseurs of my humour, they like my art and my artistry but they are not fans of me. They couldn’t care less about me as a human.
What’s the real Paul Foot like?
It’s similar to the Paul Foot on stage but slightly different. Private and secret. I’m surprisingly normal, almost bordering on boring.
How many sets of that outfit do you have?
I always wear the same outfit every time. Always wear the same clothes at all times. About a year ago I decided always to wear the same clothes, like a show business uniform. I’ll go through the outfit for you. I’ve got showbiz shoes in white and silver, two-toned shoes and I’ve got three pairs of those shoes. One pair, exactly the same, never worn and another pair apart from the ones I have on now. Then I always have contrasting socks but those socks change each day. The contrasting socks show artistic leanings and creativity. I have got four pairs of trousers that look almost the same and the trousers symbolize convention and… the past. And tradition.
My belt is like an air plane buckle that symbolizes the fact that I like going in the air, in air planes. I also have a padlock attached to the belt, and it’s like a chastity padlock but it is really the padlock to my heart because anyone could just sexually assault me at any moment. Especially in Sweden. But they couldn’t so easily get to my heart, they would have to know the combination to the lock. The shirt symbolizes elegance. I have five shirts that are the same! The tie shows that I am a business man but the fact that it is all undone at the top symbolizes that I am a self-employed business man; my own boss and the fact that the tie is too short stands for that I am a rebel. I only have one tie, I always wear the same tie every day. However, I change it every year. The jacket… symbolizes my sexual mystique!
Where do you get your hair cut?
Gianni does it in his shed. He has modelled my hair on my personality, he invented my hairstyle. Basically, he is a hairstyle inventor.
Which artists, comedy or otherwise, do you admire?
J.S Bach, Jean Sibelius, Ella Fitzgerald and Elvis Presley.
Who or what would you count as an influence?
The people mentioned above but also the moon… and the vastness of intergalactic space. Those are my influences.
Have you noticed a change in your audience and the levels of interest in you since Noel Fielding hung around with you in Edinburgh?
Yes, quite a few Boosh fans came to my show in Edinburgh. Also, being on Never Mind the Buzzcocks has had a big effect.
How much did Noel direct your show?
Well, Noel described me as undirectable. But he did have a few thoughts that were very very useful. His influence was highly spiritual and cosmic. Like the influence of Venus on Mercury. My point is that having Noel involved has had an effect but television has a massive effect. Much bigger because it reaches so many people.
What is your personal favourite part of your routine and what part do you feel the audience responds best to?
I like doing the mime because I think the audience responds well to that. I like my piece of humour on shire horses.
However, you didn’t do the bit about shire horses here in Stockholm?
I wasn’t sure about it. I think there are too many references in it that Swedish people wouldn’t understand. It’s not just about knowing what shire horses are but it’s about resonating with the references behind it. I wasn’t certain that would work so I didn’t do it. However, it is one of my favourites and I like my disturbances that I read from my cards. This was the first time I’ve done them abroad, apart from Scotland which is abroad but it doesn’t really count.
Do you have any plans to head over to the US?
I have been to the US quite a few times. I don’t have any immediate plans but it will definitely happen again.
What do you count as your best moment of the past year, career-wise?
I suppose it would be the satisfaction of doing my best show ever in Edinburgh. Being on Never Mind the Buzzcocks was probably the biggest moment of my career this year since it had such a big effect.
Last week you appeared on Come Dine With Me. Did you enjoy it and would do it yourself?
I enjoyed it because I was just the helper. I had a very small role and I was very low-status. I filmed a lot of funny stuff for it so I was quite proud of the fact that I wasn’t really the main person in it but I was on the screen a lot, doing ridiculous stuff. I was just like a maverick and I like that I shouldn’t even had been there really but I was.
Who would your ideal dinner guests be?
My ideal dinner guests would be three devastatingly handsome and sexually excitable people. One Swedish, one Norwegian and one Finnish person.
Finally, how would you describe your relationship with Noel?
Non-sexual and highly antagonistic.
Thank you very much for your time, Mr Foot!
Make sure to visit Paul Foot’s website to join the Guild of Paul Foot Connoisseurs and subscribe to his newsletter, in order to receive all the latest news and show dates.