Quickfire is the best word to describe the comedy style of Stewart Francis. As anyone who has seen him live or on TV will know, there are few stand-ups who pack-in more jokes than this Canadian comic.
Naturally, having more punchlines gives Stewart more chances to get a laugh out of his audience, but he boasts quality as well as quantity with his gags.
That’s great for the ticket-paying public, but isn’t he making life a bit hard for himself?
‘Oh, it’s completely hard,’ says Stewart, ‘Just trying to remember all those gags is hard. But that’s my favourite form of comedy. There are so many gags that there’s always one just around the corner. But it’s difficult to write and perform,’ he reveals when we catch-up with him just after the first night of his new tour – Outstanding In His Field.
‘The poster has me out standing in a field,’ continues Stewart. ‘See what I’ve done there? It’s visually pleasing and there is a pun in it.’
Ahead of his dates in Southampton and Portsmouth, we found out more.
When did you first realise you were funny?
As a kid, I would come in with humorous asides when the other class clown would catch his breath. I was about 15 years old.
What would you be if you weren’t a comedian?
I would be a very funny unemployed person. I got into comedy because I didn’t want to work.
The dream gig is being a cartoonist. I hope to come back to that and to publish a book in the next couple of years. I’ve wanted to all my life, but I got sent back rejection letters and it deterred me. Only later did I realise that Gary Larson (one of my cartoonist heroes) got rejected hundreds of times. I obviously didn’t have thick enough skin.
What I do on stage is verbal cartooning. My cartoons are single frame cartoons and my jokes are the equivalent.
Name three things that make you laugh.
My wife. She’s just very funny.
Dogs on the beach. We live near a beach and there are four dachshunds that run around wearing little vests. That always guarantees a giggle.
Lee Mack. He’s just so funny, non-stop.
What’s your favourite one-liner?
Tommy Cooper: ‘I cleaned the attic for my wife. Dusty and dirty, still, she’s good with the kids.’ It’s the perfect one-liner.
Who’s your biggest hero?
In stand-up comedy, Steve Martin. Before he started making bad films, he was a very innovative stand-up comic. He was very surreal and his jokes didn’t have to make sense. That’s kind of my style.
What was it like touring with Ricky Gervais? (Stewart supported The Office star on his Science tour, including a date at Portsmouth Guildhall)
It was interesting to travel around for the better part of a year in that elite world in which he lives in, something I wouldn’t really want to partake in. He’s done incredibly well to have withstood that constant scrutiny. I’m a huge fan of The Office so it was nice to be in the presence of genius. His words, not mine. At times, he’s playful as a kitten but there’s also a serious side to the man which goes with being a hi-falutin businessman.
Stewart Francis comes to Southampton Guildhall on Saturday, April 28, and Portsmouth Guildhall on Friday, May 4. Tickets for the Southampton show cost £21.25 from (023) 8263 2601. Portsmouth tickets cost £18.50 to £35.50 from (023) 9282 4355.