Interview: Paul Foot on Swan Power, ‘It contains a reenactment of the 1997 film Titanic’

Paul Foot is, it’s fair to say, a unique force in comedy, and the multi-award-winner is back with his brand-new show, Swan Power. Having already played to sold-out audiences, his UK leg continues until 2 March ahead of an Australian tour later next month.

Famous both for his stand-up and his appearances on television, Foot has won the BBC New Stand-up Award and the Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award, as well as being nominated for the Perrier Best Newcomer Award in Edinburgh. Since then he has been nominated twice for Best Show at The Melbourne International Comedy Festival, has been voted Best International Act at the Sydney and Perth Comedy Festivals, and has performed at the Just For Laughs Montreal Festival and Glastonbury Festival.
He has famously appeared regularly on Never Mind The Buzzcocks, as well as other comedy-panel shows like Would I Lie to You and 8 out of 10 Cats.
I caught up with him to hear about Swan Power which is about, well… everything except swans; we’ll let him tell you the rest.

Q&A with Paul Foot

Tell us about the show?
I can’t tell you much, as I am a very secretive and evasive person. I can tell you that it contains a re-enactment of the 1997 film Titanic and that I also discuss the love lives of pandas and propose a solution to online misogyny and that I perform some Jack the Ripper-based humour (which is okay because Jack the Ripper was years ago and it’s all a bit of a laugh now, even though the man was totally friggin’ brutal) and also tell an Edinburgh Dungeon-themed anecdote, which I barely speak during, and I also make fun of Jessica Fletcher, the character played by Angela Lansbury, who died recently, bless her soul and hope she enjoys the humour from the grave. I can also reveal that during the show, I lay in to Katie Winslet and also the lifeboat service – really have a go at them, in an unwarranted attack. But that is all I can say about the show.
How does Swan Power compare to your previous work?
The show contains a lot more about lifeboats, Katie Winslet, rhinos, airline safety videos and tripping over statues than any previous show. In common with all my shows to date, the show contains no reference to swans and the content is entirely independent of the title.
You’re taking the show to Australia next month; do you think Australian audiences will react differently to the material than UK audiences?
I have had to cut out some humour about lifeboats sliding down ramps, as they don’t have ramps for lifeboats in Australia (they start them off in the water, which is more logical, when you think about it). I have also added some humour about Tony Abbott, their old Prime Minister, and Pat Rafter, their old tennis supremo, which they will love.
You’re performing previews of a new show, Dissolve, in June. Do you already have the material written for the show, or is it still in development?
Well, some of it is already prepared and some is still being developed. It’s a mixture. Later, when the humour that is still being developed is written, it will be a different answer!
You’ve done a lot of work in television – how different is your approach to television as a medium, compared to stand-up?
Well, stand-up is long form and television is lots of short comments and witty asides. Also, there’s a lot more bowls of fruit and cheap wine and packets of crisps backstage in TV studios.
Finally, how would you describe Swan Power to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?
I would say that having read what I have already said about Swan Power and maybe having looked up some videos of me performing stand-up comedy, you should weigh up the risks. The risk that, despite liking what I’ve said about the show and having enjoyed some videos of me, you unexpectedly don’t enjoy my show and waste your money. And the risk that you are too cautious about things and end up missing my show and afterwards find out it was really good and regret not spending a few pounds to see it, leading to your life spiralling out of control.