Stewart Francis – 'Coming over to the UK eight years ago was the real turning point professionally for me'

The pun gent is looking beyond live work for his next move in showbusiness

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Q&A: Stewart Francis – 'Coming over to the UK eight years ago was the real turning point professionally for me'

Canada-born Scotland-based one-line guru Stewart Francis talks to Brian Donaldson about his latest show, Pun Gent, and what's on the horizon for the comedian.

Other than being a tip-top example of the punning art, how did the tour title of Pun Gent originate?
I came up with that title for a book, but the publishers didn’t like it, so I made a mental note to use it for my next tour as I thought it was a cracker. The one the publishers went with was Pun Direction. I spend about as much time on a title as I do on a joke.

How do you decide which jokes stay in a show and which ones have simply got to go?
I might get a new one and think ‘oh, that’s great’. But somewhere I’ve equally thought ‘oh that’s great’, but it might get bumped because it’s not as good as another one or it’s not as topical, so there’s nothing like a bottom five or anything where some will automatically be replaced. I approach a show the way I do a script so there are chunks that lead on to other bits and a final joke will tell me I’m at the end of a certain chunk. The beauty of being a one-liner guy is that while there’s a flow in that they’re all funny jokes, I could still pop in a joke in that I might have forgotten to do earlier and it won’t be distracting: it’s just another one-liner.

You’re not renowned for doing especially filthy material. Where do you draw your own line?
Comedy is about the element of surprise, so I like doing a couple of kitten jokes and then something dark as that catches people off-guard and it’s beneficial to the joke. But I don’t deliberately go looking for a dark joke, it’ll come up as and when. You as an audience member don’t have an idea of my take on a particular subject matter, but if you take a step back and look at the joke, you’ll see that it’s just wordplay.

What does the future hold for you and your jokes?
I’m living a charmed life. Coming over to the UK eight years ago was the real turning point professionally for me. It wasn’t happening in Canada because we don’t really have a star system there, so the talented people have to go further afield to ply their trade. I do have other things that are challenging me; there’s a sitcom that I’ve written which is actively being shopped around to the networks. That would be the cherry on top for me.

Stewart Francis: Pun Gent is on tour until Sat 12 Mar, 2016.

Stewart Francis: Pun Gent

  • 3 stars

Surreal and deadpan one-liners from the Canadian stand-up and TV regular, as seen on Mock The Week and Live At The Apollo.

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