You might expect your 99th show would be a rushed affair, lacklustre with dreams of clocking off from the tour. Not for Stewart Francis, who excelled in his final show of his Outstanding In His Field tour.
His torrent of puns and one-liners saw laughter continuously rippling from the audience. With such an act, it can take varying lengths of time for audience members to catch the punchline, creating a lovely atmosphere of chuckles erupting from different seats as people piece together the joke.
Francis’s pace is brilliant – there’s just enough time in between his jokes for you to register what he’s said before the next punchline. If you don’t like one joke, another comes along straightaway.
His routine is full of clever witticisms – “People say fame has changed me, I used to be a self conscious waitress from Swindon” – and flows well. Even when he was heckled in the middle of an ironic listing of all the American presidents in order (no mean feat), he turned the heckle into a punchline.
He left the majority of audience participation to his warm-up act, the spritely Matt Rudge.
Naturally, there were lulls when Stewart’s jokes weren’t as well received as they could have been.His encore almost entirely relied on a comparison between rock stars and comedians that didn’t quite hit the mark, but Francis was extremely adept in snapping back the audience by pulling out some shocking jokes or groan-inducing puns.
The show was punchy, a just-right mix of snappy one-liners, terrible puns and clever irony that provided the audience with some great laughs and a few jokes to tell their mates when they got home.