Stewart Francis

Canadian comedian Stewart Francis is back with a new tour called Pun Gent – but not all his jokes are that kindly.

Francis is great at one liners, delivering a steady stream of puns and jokes that obviously tickled a near sell-out audience at Norwich’s Theatre Royal.

But surprisingly for an act who has been based in Britain for some years several jokes faltered on missed transatlantic idioms, leaving him stumbling to explain the gag rather than smartly moving on.

He also strayed in to some uncomfortable territory at times, with a building routine on gang rape in India and a handful of other race-based jokes.

It’s early in the tour so perhaps these misfires will be weeded out.

So much of his material is both warmly clever and funny – forgetting to buy carrots for his rabbit, because he was letting his hair down; an aside about having jokes read to him through an earpiece – it’s a shame to have those tarnished by less deserving material.

At his best Francis is one of the smartest and most inventive comedians on the circuit; I’m just not sure that he was at his best this time round.