Review: Stewart Francis

Canadian comic Stewart Francis was on sparkling form for a visit to Norwich's Theatre Royal.

I wish my one liners were as good as Stewart Francis'.

Throughout an hour-plus set he barely faltered as he delivered punchline after punchline to an expectant and appreciative audience.

It's a style of comedy that can make the audience uncomfortable - listening to Jimmy Carr can sometimes feel like being on the wrong end of a verbal machine gun - but Francis has a congeniality and lyricism about his delivery that soothes over the assault.

His wordplay is at times groansome, but he is skilled at subtly lining up a crescendo-building set of puns that grow appreciative smiles into full-on belly laughs.

The material is often edgier than his friendly appearance might suggest, even rivalling fellow Mock The Week comedian Frankie Boyle in the taste stake at times, but it is the warmth of delivery that sets him apart from other performers.

You feel the mirth more than the malice, even when the topics include some more unusual sexual practices or degenerative diseases. Or the untimely death of Peter Andre.

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Francis is a comic at the top of his game.

Comedy at the Theatre Royal continues with Julian Clary on October 7, Jack Dee on October 14 and Ross Noble on October 24.

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