Comedy Review: Stewart Francis

18 Jun

The Dome: Saturday, June 16

Stewart Francis is comedy antibiotics; the longer you are exposed to him, the less effective he is.

That’s not to say the Canadian master of deadpan, quick-fire one-liners and shameless puns isn’t a first-rate performer when he’s on the money, it’s just that he doesn’t have enough A-grade material to adequately fill an hour-long set.

And that’s something of a problem when he’s trying to fill sizable venues with a new routine every year.

This show, when it veered away from the trademark, free-flowing quips which have made him a panel show star, was something of a disappointment.

A sketch with an imaginary ventriloquist’s dummy was barely tolerable, a visual routine which consisted of him gurning in an attempt to look like a cross between Ed Miliband and a dozy security guard was tame, and while a few musical interludes were amusing enough, they all felt somewhat beneath him.

It wasn’t until the last quarter of the show, when he really started to unleash his cutting one-liners, that the show managed to pick-up any real rhythm or maintain a consistently high quality of output.

When he did get going, though, he was unstoppable. A series of gags about the different people his wife had left him for, for example, was an unrelenting stream of clever puns which showed his mastery of language and pinpoint delivery.

Because his best jokes are so concise and rapidly dispatched, some might say it’s asking too much for him to write a set that maintains such a stellar standard throughout.

But if he wants to surpass the likes of Tim Vine and Milton Jones in the one-liner stakes, he’s going to have to, even if that means easing up on the lucrative tours for a while.


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