STEWART FRANCIS

Charity Comedy Night: Bloomsbury Theatre, London, 2011
Return of The Lumberjacks (Back By Popular Demand): Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 2012
The Greenwich Comedy Festival: Greenwich Park, London, 2014
Stewart Francis: Pungent: Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh, 2015
Stewart Francis: Into The Punset: Soho Theatre, London, 2018

I have always thoroughly enjoyed watching Canadian pun master Stewart Francis live on stage. He is one of a handful of great one-line merchants – Tim Vine, Milton Jones, Darren Walsh – who always guarantee a laugh or groan depending if the joke works or not. The very basis of his act is the plan that although his manner is unrushed, the words are sheer lunacy. I have seen him at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012 as one third of The Lumberjacks (together with Glenn Wool and Craig Campbell) and I also saw him appear at The Greenwich Comedy Festival in 2014 where he lost his way somewhat and fluffed a few jokes. Thankfully, he returned to Edinburgh in 2015 with the triumphant Pungent tour where observations such as the actor Sean Connery’s command of accents was featured in an inspired routine. Francis is more restrained with the stories and jokes which made me listen intently waiting for the next punchline through all the laughter.

I went to see Francis’ new tour: Into The Punset at the Soho Theatre in London in October 2018. The show was billed as work in progress for sadly what would be Francis’ final UK tour. For an hour there was a barrage of very funny stories and jokes with Francis’ recognising my loud laugh from the front table in a somewhat subdued Monday night crowd. The pin-sharp punchlines and understated tones to the stories all worked well and the gags were exquisitely timed, perfectly delivered with a slow build-up and very, very funny. If this is indeed his final tour, then thank you for all the laughs and he will be greatly missed.

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