Listening to legendary comedian Stewart Francis feels like playing a game of catch up. You’re constantly laughing at his bullet fire one liners and tutting at some of the silly puns or averting eye contact at some of the riskier jokes. But every so often he throws in a wee curve ball and it carries you to the end of the next one liner before it becomes fully apparent what the joke one joke ago actually was. So there’s a constant ripple effect of laughter throughout the venue.
It’s all so silly, and sometimes (a lot of the time) not so clever but it’s funny.
As an opener, it was a pleasure watching the effortlessly cool comedian shimmy onto stage dancing to a pop song. Francis stops dancing and says, “That was fun, thanks Thesresa May” and the hilarity has begun.
Dressed in a classy black suit, open pink shirt looking suave and mature aware that at any second he could make a joke about anal sex or childly ( in a 4 year-old’s voice) call the audience a ‘poo poo’ Stewart Francis immediately makes you smile.
Oddly, and it is odd if you think about a sixty year-old comedian sounding like a 4 year-old from the Haribo advert, it works. It all works perfectly. It enhances his range of silliness, if you like. One minute disgusting, the next immature.
The venue was The Glasgow Pavilion and truth be told, I haven’t frequented this variety theatre establishment in a long, long time. It’s beautifully ornate and colourful, unlike soulless venues like the SSE Hydro or the Armadillo (I’ve forgotten it’s real name) and the interval safety curtain reminds you it was built in 1904 in a bygone era when variety performances dominated all forms of communication from tv channels (all three in the seventies woohoo!) to radio and theatres.
I’d love to sit in this characterful listed building when it’s empty, half close my eyes, prick up my ears and listen to the echoes of hearty laughter from family audiences and enjoy performers of all sizes and styles throughout the decades.
But I digress. Stewart Francis’s massive tour ‘Into The Punset’ has to be the longest farewell. At 86 shows this year and around the same last year his one hour performance will surely be a pension fund that just keeps on giving.
America’s Late Late Show host, Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson, has described Canadian comedian Francis as, “One of the funniest comedians in the world” and I and many other comedians (okay, I’m not actually calling myself a comedian) wouldn’t disagree. The Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo star has graced tv and stage for over a decade and is now looking to hang up his puns and turn to acting (never sure throughout the performance if the acting pursuit is for real or actually a joke – wow, he is a good actor!) so as as he succinctly put it in his tour flyers, ‘when the pun stops…. STOP!’
Francis’s timing is masterful. There’s a recurring Trevor Macdonald (newsreader) joke, again more silly than funny and many of the jokes I’ve heard at other gigs, or on Live at the Apollo so you know what’s coming but it’s like watching a comedy like Friends. Seen it too many times to mention and yet it never fails to amuse me.
The standing ovation by many including myself was undoubtedly more for the years of performances rather than a stand alone last night performance but Francis is by far the king of one liners.
Great night! (thanks to the two audience members sitting next to us who had the most hysterically infectious laughs I’ve ever heard – enhanced the comedy)
review by Susie Daniels