Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
Simon B Cotter
Snorri Hergill Kristjansson
Special guest who cannot be named
Stephen K Amos
Steve N Allen
Stewart Francis on Mock the Week
More Stewart Francis videos
|At The Laughter Lounger|
|From his Tour De Francis show|
|On Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow|
|Stewart Francis Live|
A Canadian comedian, largely based in Britain, who has performed at international festivals in Montreal, Aspen, South Africa, Edinbugh, Glasgow and Befast – as well as those in his homeland.
His TV appearances include The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson in the US and The Comedy Store and Live At Jongleurs in the UK.
He has also written for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Canada’s Gemini Awards.
They are three excellent comics who, you would hope, could surely each tour under their own name. Or maybe not, as Guildford’s 1,000-seat G Live venue is only about a third full.
But Canadians Stewart Francis, Craig Campbell and Glenn Wool exude a vibe that this isn’t all ‘aboot’ the money. The Lumberjacks is the Edinburgh show that launched them all on to the UK scene 16 years ago, and the revival feels like a chance for three mates to hang out on the road, an antidote to the isolation of solo touring. That camaraderie injects a warmth into the whole show.
Francis breaks, or at least slightly chips, his usual deadpan to compere. At the head of the show, he chats with the audience, but although badinage is not his his strong suit, there is a lot of affection for him as he pads between the quirky one-liners with which he made his reputation. He stresses the Canadian-ness of this show – although the comics’ nationality is secondary to their talent – and tries out a few newer puns, with mixed effect.
When he returns to for the second half, though, he presents a ‘greatest hits’ package of his quips that are both delightfully quirky and magnificently efficient. Each is so concise, his routine is like the wittiest Twitter feed you ever read... though for him 140 characters would be an epic. And you would never get the full effect of his Chipmunk voice, if not live. Exquisite stuff.
Wool starts with a reprisal of a gag he first did 16 years ago, showing he was sharp even then. However at least half of his set is much newer material, taking advantage of the ‘safety in numbers’ of touring with a line-up. The whole show’s not hung on his name, so he can mess about with it without fear – which does lead him to be a little too laid back (to follow a stereotypical Canadian trait) to smash every line hard.
Yet there’s some great stuff here, as he resumes his normal status as a stoner-philosopher, with special emphasis on the world’s religions. It’s a common comic territory, but Wool approaches the subject with affectionate curiosity, approaching faith to be like an odd little animal he wants to prod and play with, not quite figuring out how it works. He’s not setting out to be offensive, just puckish with the big issues.
Other than religion, a main theme is the over-reactive language used by the self-important: you’re not ‘bullied’ if someone takes issue with you; you don’t ‘suffer’ a minor inconvenience; and a jobsworth casually using words like ‘abuse’ demeans the real victims. It’s a good point, but more importantly he makes it with hilarity.
And lest you think this makes it sound like a weighty set... Wool is also the creator of some perfectly silly puns, of which he’s rightly super-proud.
He is probably the least famous of the trio. His ‘I don’t know who you are, either’ aside to the audience certainly striking a chord. But there will probably me more folk seeking him out after tonight.
After a cute three-handed sketch to launch the second half, comes Craig Campbell.
He’s often been called the Grizzly Adams of stand-up – and with his wild hair, rugged beard and outdoorsman mentality, you can see why that sticks. But the essence of his humour is how he fails to live up to that machismo image.
He thinks he’s rock-and-roll, but give him ‘push-button morphine’ in a hospital bed, and he becomes a helpless child. He’s hapless when attacked by birds, as described in a wonderfully slapstick routine about an ‘attack duck’, and can’t surf or even show a visitor around his native British Columbia without making a fool of himself.
One thing he is good at, though, is compelling storytelling, spinning yarns of his humiliation like the finest campfire raconteur.
Egged on by a member of the audience, he ends with a rather graphic description of an Amsterdam sex party – which he’s keen to make sure we’re all complicit in sharing, just to deflect any backlash to the inevitable bad taste. Yet while the subject matter is unpalatable, this is not shock comedy, as it’s his human, vulnerable reaction to the depravity he sees that’s funny.
The Lumberjacks is an irresistible mix of comedians, three skilful practitioners with very different styles offering a mix of smart, stupid, self-deprecating, social commentary with puns, anecdotes and even bursts of song. This has to be Canada’s greatest export since maple syrup.
|Date of live review: Saturday 11th May, '13|
Review by Steve Bennett
Thursday 3rd May, '12- High Wycombe Swan
Monday 4th Apr, '11-
Saturday 16th Oct, '10- Brighton Dome
Friday 16th Oct, '09- Brighton Dome
Friday 1st Jun, '07-
Show - Montreal 2004 -
Stewart Stewart is part of the trinity of one-liner comedians with Milton Jones and Tim Vine. Inverness audience are savvy to his brand of stand up comedy honed to perfection. Delivered in a quiet understated relaxed and professional manner. Made to look easy but has taken years of experience in paring the one liner down to the fewest words possible. Only disappointment of his set, over far too soon!
The compere at Swansea almost ruined the evening, but Stu was superb with loads of new material.
Saw Stewart at the Clowns Pocket comedy night in Swansea. Really glad someone has finally started getting some good acts in to the smaller clubs in the city. Problem is the support is poor. Simon Emmanuel was very poor, Mike Bubbins did the same act word for word as he had in the previous Clowns Pocket we went to and the compere (who I think runs the night) is appalling. He ruined the night to be honest. He argued with some middle aged chap in the crowd and wasn't funny. He then came back on after the 1st act and said to the chap, who was minding his own business, "You said your name was David, we would call you Dai in Wales.....and I wish you would". He had obviously thought this up during the 15 mins the 1st act was on and was determined to use it regardless of whether the chap was heckling or not. It cast a horrible mood over the room, the guy has no material and the joke wasn't funny. Very poo. That said, Stewart came on and showed his class. He had the room under complete control with talent and material. Won't return to the night though because the compere has ruined it both times.
My favourite stand up on the circuit at the moment. The one-liners are some of the funniest I've ever heard and the sharp, dead-pan delivery gives each joke that bit of extra punch. His surreal humour is played out like scenes from a movie as his face comes alive, transforming from one expression to another. Highly recommended, 10/10.
I have seen several "headline" comedians visiting the Comedy Store in London on a weekly basis. Stewart Francis is by far the best of the lot. The funniest comedian around at the minute. I saw him in Peterborough recently on the Tour De Francis and laughed so hard at times, I thought I was going to stop breathing! Highly recommended.
I went to see Tour De Francis TWICE - Once in Cambridge and then again in Norwich. This is one of the best touring shows I have seen - and I've seen a lot!. One liners, puns, and the odd silly noise. Top Stuff.
Saw Stewart at the Dancehouse Theatre in Manchester on Friday night....all I can say is Wot A LEGEND...my face hurt from laughing for an hour solid, funniest thing Ive seen in a long long time...thanks Stewart for making my night sooooo funnny xxx
I thought 'my wife' jokes were dead till I saw Stewart Francis.
Stewart Francis Live: Outstanding in His Field
Stewart Francis Live: Tour de Francis
Return of the Lumberjacks
Tim Allen gala
Best of Leicester Comedy Festival Tour 2009
Stewart Francis: Outstanding In His Field
Stewart Francis: Tour de Francis