Paul Foot: ‘I had to become a surreal comic for the sake of my mental health’
Posted by  badge Boss on Oct 15
Paul Foot has described an incredible moment at one of his shows (Picture: Jonathan Birch)

Paul Foot isn’t a stand up comedian you’d usually think to go to for a bit of therapy. Until now.

The 49-year-old surrealist comedian is most famous for his pithy rants and frankly peculiar perspective. A day inside Paul Foot’s brain would surely be a weird and wonderful thing.

Oh, and his recent went viral when he simply asked: ‘What is burp?’ But more on that later.

Over the years, Paul has kept his unique mesh of flamboyant yet dead-pan delivery pretty consistent – but the content of his sets has now completely changed.

While the Amersham-born comic’s most famous set, Shire Horses, was a genius 2010 take on a peculiar headline that claimed numbers of the subservient beasts were on the decline in the UK, .

‘I can tell you what time it was. It was 4.59pm. And it wasn’t like Jesus or anything boring,’ said Paul in front of a fuchsia pink background, explaining the incredible moment all his mental health issues magically ‘dissolved’ – inspiring the contents of his new show, aptly named Dissolve.

Of course, he can’t share exactly what happened in this miraculous moment – so to not ruin his show – but Paul explained: ‘The message of my show is hope.’

The 49-year-old comedian has delighted audiences all over the world for decades (Picture: Jonathan Birch)
He is currently getting very candid in his new show, Dissolve (Picture: Jonathan Birch)

It’s taken Paul 30 years to talk about his internal struggles, since first suffering from mental health problems at university.

‘Because times of mental illness were so difficult, I just kept that all separate [from stand-up comedy],’ he explained.

‘I think that’s in many ways why I elected for a surreal style, to avoid talking about anything in any way personal about my life.’

While people use to congratulate him for his funny, off-beat performances making them chuckle, now Paul gets many heartfelt messages from fans thanking him for sharing his experience. All of which he replies to, by the way.

‘It’s not just like a fan letter, where you think, “Oh well, I’ll take three weeks to reply.” These people are pouring their hearts out sometimes, with all sorts of very private personal details. So it doesn’t feel right to just sit on it,’ Paul said.

Some have even emailed him confessing their own burping woes, after Paul revealed on the foodie Off Menu podcast that he simply can’t burp. Well, he’s burped ‘once,’ he tells me. Plot twist.

‘I’ve also had lots of emails from people who say they can’t burp,’ Paul said.

‘I got a very nice one recently from a woman who said that she can’t burp, and it’s been good to hear someone else say the same thing.

‘For some people it’s not quite the same as me. I’ve had other people say, oh I can’t burp, then you ask them what the problem is and it’s very mild.

‘But I can’t, I just sit there in agony.

‘So this woman wrote to me and she said she had the same thing, and she has to go to the loo to do it by herself there because its so loud and violent; that’s the only way to let the air out.’

Paul reassures he is going to get Botox for the rare condition, which is a dysfunction of the cricopharyngeal muscle when it fails to recognise and release trapped gas in the lower esophagus.

Paul suffered with mental health issues for 30 years, until one day it all disappeared (Picture: Jonathan Birch)
Paul is looking back at his journey in this new show, and offering hope to his audience (Picture: Jonathan Birch)

But aside from people sharing their burping dilemmas online, Paul gets some pretty beautiful words from fans in person too.

After doing one particular run of Dissolve, Paul remembered how one man from the audience even ‘stormed on stage’ to share his thoughts.

‘I thought, “What’s going on?”‘ recalled Paul. ‘I couldn’t actually see him because I still had lights in my eyes.’

‘He sort of just appeared out of nowhere, so I was like, “Oh!”, and the audience were like, “Woah!”

‘And he just gave me a massive hug and said, “Thank you so much for the show. What you’ve said is really important. It’s going to help lots of people.”

‘He was all kind of emotional about it,’ Paul recalled. ‘It was quite a beautiful moment.’

But Paul doesn’t think what he’s doing now is brave (as people keep on telling him) because he feels genuinely cured. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Plus, helping people is hugely satisfying.

‘A deeper sort of a wholesome, holistic way of satisfying rather than it being a sort of a sort of emotional journey for me,’ he clarified. ‘It’s important.’

Just like with burping then, when it comes to mental health it’s better out than in…

Dissolve is currently touring the UK until what Paul describes as the ‘month of Mayonnaise’ (or, May 2024). For dates and tickets, please .