Stewart Francis, Theatre Severn - review
He may, in his own words, be riding off "into the punset" at the end of his final tour.
But Stewart Francis is showing no signs of slowing down.
The Canadian one-liner was reeling off the gags at Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn on Sunday night.
So much so that on a few occasions he stopped to ask the audience if he was going too fast – if he hadn't got enough laughter for one of his jokes.
It's the nature of such an act that it is sometimes hard to hold the audience for the whole show.
The comedian hops around subject matters. There's no obvious flow. The odd witty remark goes over the head of half the audience.
But while some jokes perhaps didn't get the reaction they deserved, Francis certainly kept his audience with him the whole way through.
He used the full repertoire of aids available to him. His use of a sound effects machine was simple but very funny.
He skilfully returned to the same punchlines in totally different contexts to hold the whole act together – at various points we learned his show persona had 17 brothers, then 17 wives... And Trevor McDonald just kept on turning up to deliver bad news to him when a celebrity had died.
OOORRRR (as he would shout before delivering an alternative punchline) a scenario would end randomly with him putting his clothes back on and leaving. Except for his visit to a nudist's beach...
One of Francis' best assets is his facial expressions – adding so much more to the words of the jokes that come out of his mouth.
It was all delivered with impeccable comic timing, and the audience was delighted when he came back to do an encore.
He was well supported by Rachel Fairburn, whose short but entertaining cameo left the audience in no doubt how she didn't get on with her sister if nothing else.
Francis is 60 now and this is his last tour, ending at Hammersmith Apollo later in the year. He's always been a hit on TV shows such as Mock the Week – and he's every bit as good on stage.
He's next back in the area towards the end of the tour – on stage at William Aston Hall in Wrexham on November 27, Theatr Hafren in Newtown the following night and Aberystwyth Arts Centre on December 5.
The penultimate night of the tour will be at Birmingham Town Hall on December 6.