Stewart Francis, Dudley Town Hall - review
Modern comedy seems to heavily rely on situational humour.
Since Peter Kay really took situational comedy to the mainstream with sell-out arena shows, it is much more likely you will sit there and be regaled with a 10-minute tale about a trip to the dry cleaners than told a funny joke about Sir Trevor McDonald wearing your wife’s negligée.
There’s nothing wrong with situational comedy, far from it, but to have an hour of quickfire jokes thrown at you by a leaner-looking Canadian Stewart Francis was a refreshing change.
Well, semi-refreshing, tonight in Dudley Town Hall it was hotter than a Wolves fan’s collar when the thought of Jorge Mendes getting bored and leaving festers in their mind.
Warm-up was provided by Stewart’s compatriot Allyson June Smith – Stewart is using all female support acts on the tour. She had one of those personalities you just want to have a pint with.
She thinks like us, values what we do, but there is something endearingly kooky about her outlook on life that has you in stitches.
Whether it’s naming and shaming her exes or discussing her grandmother’s love of airplane turbulence her warm and engaging demeanour dragged you in from the start.
Stewart could not be more of a contrast. Dry, sometimes seen as grumpy, his delivery of his famed one-liners is pop, pop, pop – like a semi-automatic rifle firing out from the stage.
This is his final tour before he heads Into The Punset. It was our last chance to catch him in Dudley and it didn’t disappoint.
He tackled family, he poked fun at various careers and – in the bluest tones possible that matched his stage lighting – discussed a more adventurous sex life (we take it fictional) with his wife.
One of Stewart’s greatest weapons is his use of the ‘callback’ technique. Like we’re about to shamelessly do.
There are a few unleashed throughout his set. One starts innocently sat in his grandmother’s living room hearing the news from Sir Trevor McDonald that Elvis Presley had died. Then he notes how weird it was that Sir Trevor was in his gran’s living room.
Throughout, Sir Trevor pops up in the most inopportune moments – such as while drowning - to break the news of more celebrity deaths. It’s brilliant. And you even expect it to be coming at times, which adds to the comedy.
There’s more, including his hapless doctor. But saying much else would ruin that aspect of his set.
His quickfire delivery will have you giggling as you try and work out some of the often silly, often clever sentences he has planted for you to giggle at.
It is an unusual comedy style in the mainstream post-2000. And makes Stewart stand out even more for it.