Paul F Taylor @ The Stand
Moustachioed maestro Paul F Taylor takes odd conceits to their illogical conclusion
Paul F Taylor is worried about being silly. So much so, he’s looked up synonyms and is very perturbed by the results: foolish, mindless, nonsense. Surely he has not wasted his career on something so insubstantial? Surely there is more value in silliness? Well, Taylor should rest easy, for Odd Paul is a beautifully structured, consistently hilarious hour that should be required viewing for all wannabe surrealists.
The brilliance of Taylor is that, at first, you’re not entirely sure where he’s going. A lukewarm series of ‘imagine if’ scenarios feature heavily in the first section of the show, and he is quite right when he describes his style as ‘an emoji for some people, and a black square for others’. But those in the latter camp would do well to update their software, because sticking with Taylor’s seemingly meandering fantasies – sheep at war, chess pieces in the real world, the politics of reclining plane seats – proves very satisfying.
His deconstruction of ‘knock knock’ and ‘doctor doctor’ jokes could be so trite in the wrong hands, but Taylor has the bizarre knack of adding so much detail to odd conceits that they become painfully unfunny one minute, then indescribably hilarious the next. It's like he is an otherworldly comedy alchemist, turning gold to lead and back to gold.
Despite the persona, Taylor is no fool, and this hour is intensely constructed so that the relevance of an on-stage tall chair and an audience-inclusive parody of rousing, manipulative speeches in Hollywood films only reveal their true significance in the show’s final section. Yes, there is a ‘message’, and yes, the emotional narrative rears its simpering head on occasion, but nothing detracts from the fact that Odd Paul is a love song to silliness and a convincing exploration into the way that abstract foolishness can be repurposed as a way of dealing with life’s very real hardships.
Paul F. Taylor: Odd Paul, The Stand Comedy Club (Stand 2), until 25 Aug, 1.20pm, £8-£10