IT’S doubtful Stewart Francis has done a great deal for the Canadian tourist industry but he’s certainly taken a few of our homegrown jokers to task.
The fast-thinking gag-meister finds a busy Sheffield City Hall tomorrow having showcased his one-liner prowess on the likes of BBC’s Mock The Week – where Stewart has more than held his own against the likes of Russell Howard, Frankie Boyle and Andy Parsons.
“I took it in stride but the competitiveness is bound to happen because it’s six or seven people trying to share one microphone,” he says of his experiences.
“You just wait for someone to catch their breath and you chime in; there’s a give and take as there is in every day conversation.
“There’ll be someone who is a bit of a blowhard, and when they draw a breath, you jump in. But I’ve never seen it as the tenacious bear pit that people have said it is.
“People have also said it’s a boys’ club but it might simply be reflective of the demographic as there are fewer women doing comedy. I can’t speak from their perspective but the ones who have gone on it have been outstanding and it saddens me that more are not on there.”
Either way, he’s been doing something right as the current Outstanding In His Field tour has more than justified Stewart’s relocation to the UK three years ago.
His rise has been down to a mix of factors. Obviously being a natural comedian helps, but he also hit the UK at a time when the comedy scene was being taken seriously by TV producers again and there were more opportunities for stand-ups.
“It’s been a wonderful three or four years for me and it’s down to some TV appearances that have really put me on a lot of people’s radar and I followed that up with what some people would deem to be good comedy.
“I guess it’s a case of ‘right place, right time’ and being able to play 21 years of accumulated material.”
Some City Hall audiences may have caught him opening for Ricky Gervais on his Science tour. Stewart is a different prospect, however, following the more traditional one-liner route.
Even the Outstanding In His Field tour poster is a play on words, rather than an actual tour theme.
“The poster has me out standing in a field. See what I’ve done there? It’s visually pleasing and there is a pun in it.
“There’s no theme to the show whatsoever; it is what it is and the poster is cute and eye-catching and hopefully will help get bums on seats.”
And after the tour has finished? Well, there’s a good chance we could see Stewart speaking someone else’s words on stage and screen.
“I’m grateful to be doing what I’m doing and will continue while it’s interesting to me and well-received, but acting is definitely something I’m keen on.
“I thought when I got the sitcom in Canada that I would more or less shut down my wonderful chapter on stand-up comedy, but sadly the sitcom dried up and I went back to what got me there in the first place. But the ultimate dream gig would be to publish my own cartoons.
“It was what I had done in the first place, the single frame, Gary Larson-style comic strip. I liked the anonymity of creating a single frame cartoon, a one-liner if you will. It’s possible that this may well be my last tour. Then again, I said that about the last one.”