STAND-UP STEWART FRANCIS Motherwell Concert Hall and Theatre, Sat 1 Dec, then touring
Stewart Francis isn’t one of those comedians who’ll fall into that trap of trying to be funny beyond their use-by date. For after the best part of a decade in which he’s become a staple on Mock the Week, scooped the Dave Joke of the Fringe Award and played one sell-out tour after another, the Canadian comic is bowing out pretty much near the top. For a quickfire gagsmith and one-line joke generator, Into
the Punset was obviously the title he would go with for his farewell tour. But wipe your eyes, people, for Francis himself is failing to see the miserable side of the story. ‘For me, it’s a happy conclusion as I’ve left the best til last,’ he insists. ‘It’s nice to go out on a high, like when the athlete that throws the winning touchdown in the Super Bowl then retires.’ So, if Francis has no longer got the comedy bug, where are his talents heading next? ‘I’m going to step away from comedy and focus on acting which is another passion,’ says the man who already has credits on shows such as Lee Mack’s sitcom Not Going Out and US legal drama Kevin Hill. ‘Casting directors can be a bit lazy and think, “well he’s just a comedian”. But I’m not. I think I have some significant acting chops and I want to prove that to myself and to the world. But when you’re wearing both hats as a comedian and an actor, you can be taken less seriously; so I want there to be a real separation.’
For now though, Francis is focused on making the
audiences who helped him make his way in the comedy game laugh at his punning punchlines one more time. ‘This tour is a love letter to the UK and Ireland, thanking them for a wonderful chapter in my comedy career. It’s not a sad moment for me, it’s just all about new challenges and new horizons.’ (Brian Donaldson)
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COMEDY | PREVIEWS
LOCAL LAUGHS SUSAN RIDDELL THE SCOTTISH STAND-UP AND WRITER HAS A GO AT OUR Q&A A
Do you have any pre-show rituals you can tell us about? I sacrifice one or two chickens. If there aren’t any around I just eat a banana and remind myself the planet is dying and there won’t be any trace of us soon. What’s the one thing you remember about your very first stand-up gig? I took a notepad on stage the first time I did stand-up. I wrote out my entire set in red pen and when I got on stage they had red lighting so it made the writing invisible. I was fucked but it still went good.
You’re curating your own ‘legends of comedy’ line- up. Tell us the bill’s top three acts This would change all the time but at the moment I’m going through a right Australian phase so it’d be Sam Simmons, Chris Lilley,
and Gina Riley and Jane Turner of Kath & Kim. I know that’s four folk but double acts count as one. I love daft, over-the-top nonsensical stuff.
How do you go about handling hecklers? If I’m on an elevated stage I take a runny and elbow-drop them from a great height. If not, then I just take them down verbally.
Which comedian’s memoir would you recommend to someone? Tina Fey’s Bossypants was probably the last one I read. I aspire to be the Scottish Tina Fey. Just dead rich and respected but still under the radar. ■ Susan Riddell is on the bill at the Minted Comedy Festival, The Pleasance, Edinburgh, Sun 4 Nov. See more of this Q&A at list.co.uk/ comedy
88 THE LIST 1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019 88 THE LIST 1 Nov 2018–31 Jan 2019