Comedian Stewart Francis is pedalling the laughs

A WELL KNOWN comic is hoping to take fans on a hilarious ride when his tour rolls into Berwick on Thursday, May 27.

Stewart Francis has been packing out venues across the UK on his first nationwide jaunt - brilliantly named 'Tour de Francis'- and after hearing great things about the town, he's hoping that people will get on their bikes and head to The Maltings for his show.

Stewart is known the world over for his hilarious stand-up turns but unlike some of his contemporaries, who he affectionately dubs 'the young 'uns', he isn't one for storytelling, preferring to be the master of one liners.

Although he is now something of a comedy veteran, Stewart has recently gravitated to a whole new level of fame thanks to his appearances on ratings winners like 'Michael McIntyre's Comedy Roadshow' and 'Mock The Week'.

He said he couldn't thank the shows enough for helping him reach the next rung on the comedy ladder.

"Basically, I couldn't have done this tour without them," Stewart commented.

"They have helped older guys like me and a crop of talented young 'uns to play to an audience of millions of viewers.

"You just have to look at the careers of some of the people who have featured on the shows - they are now putting bums on seats all over the country."

Stewart is the first person to admit that after practically being forced by a former girlfriend to take part in an amateur stand-up contest, he was well and truly bitten by the showbiz bug and has enjoyed sinking his teeth into the comedy apple ever since.

"When I was younger, people used to tell me I was funny and I guess thought I was too, but it took a girlfriend getting sick of me going on and on about it to get me into comedy.

"She signed me up for an amateur competition and I took to it like a duck to water. I got a real buzz from being on stage and having people laugh at me.

"Now I'm just doing my thing and ecstatic to be on my first headline tour.

"I no longer do the club circuit where you play to crowds that can be rather indifferent and instead I'm loving playing to theatre audiences and basking in their warmth!"

Canadian Stewart has been living in England full time for just over two years now after moving here from the other side of the pond.

But with British parents and relatives he has the useful tool of having a sense of humour which encompasses quirks from both sides of the Atlantic.

He continued: "I really got the best of both worlds and as a result I'm able to relate to audiences in the US and the UK.

"There are a few major differences between comedy in the two countries - the most obvious one being that you definitely need to be more overt when doing a show in America. Audiences there expect to have a joke spelt out for them whereas over here you can be more dry, more subtle and people can draw their own conclusions."

Stewart said he loved the spontaneity of having to come up with cracking one-liners but added that the subsequent fast pace of his shows can mean a lot of hard work on stage.

"I like to get as many laughs as possible from the audience and doing one-liners allows me to do this. However, remembering all the different ones can be very difficult. Some comedians like to tell long stories and then bring in the punchline right at the end, which can mean a lot of waffling on.

"I, on the other hand, like to fire them at audiences all the time which means that I've really got to roll up my sleeves on stage. The beauty of not having a scripted story though is that if I forget a joke I can stick it in later on in the show and nobody will notice!"

Inspired by Steve Martin when he was growing up, before 'he started doing bad movies', Stewart is now a big fan of some of his contemporaries who, like him, are revelling in the buzz that is surrounding the British comedy scene at present.

He continued:"When I was growing up Steve Martin was this innovative and surreal comedian who I aspired to be like.

"Now I love the work of my peers like Harry Hill, Lee Mack and Simon Evans - they are all outrageously funny.

"The Michael McIntyres of this world have taken comedy to the next level and people like me benefit from being in the wake of their success."

Stewart describes himself as 'a day to day kind of guy' when it comes to his career and said it's a case of watch this space when it comes to his future projects.

He added: "I've done pretty much everything I wanted to do so I'm hoping that my work from now on in will match the profile I've built up.

"I've recently written a screenplay and a script for a sitcom and now I'm more well known people are keen to take a look."

Stewart is expecting big things from Berwick and has promised that when you go and see his show 'all your dreams will come true.'

To see if he fulfills his pledge, get your ticket for 'Tour de Francis' now for 12/10 concessions (stalls), 12 (circle) and 15 (box) from The Maltings box office on (01289) 330999.

In the meantime if you want the latest on all things Stewart visit www.

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