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One of the most important items in the comedian's tool box – a really good memory

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 16, 2012

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The crown was handed to him at the Edinburgh Fringe after a combination of critics and a TV poll judged one of his gags ("You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks") the pick of the bunch at the festival this summer.

The one-liner was no one-off. He had another in the Edinburgh top ten ("I saw a documentary on how ships are kept together. Riveting!").

And, as Westcountry audiences will find out this month, there are many, many more gags where they came from. There have to be.

"My show is basically word play," the Canadian says, for the uninitiated.

"A show needs a lot of one-liners so I am always writing. I don't have a 'joke book' with me. If I think of something funny when I'm out, I'll remember it and write it down when I get home."

He is blessed with a good memory, another essential for a one-liner merchant who can't rely on audience banter to pad out his act.

With DVDs putting his jokes on the record – the latest, Outstanding In His Field, is released on November 26 – any thought of recycling gags is a non-starter.

Luckily, he also has a deep reservoir of material to drawn on from decades in the business.

Stewart was no overnight success: his first solo headline tour came in 2010 after 21 years doing the clubs and writing.

He had ten years as a postie in Canada before choosing redundancy when two or three years of dabbling in stand-up pointed the way for a career as a comedian. His writing included for some top-of-the-pile people, among them comedian Jay Leno, host of US TV fixture The Tonight Show.

Stewart lived in the UK on and off – both his parents are British – and that long awaited breakthrough came after supporting Ricky Gervais.

Brits' love of a good pun made the transition across the pond no problem and his distinctive deadpan delivery made the perfect fit. He can act – he has hopes of starring in his own sitcom; talks are in an advanced stage – but the straight face is no put on.

He is "naturally comfortable on the stage" and the laid-back attitude extends to his take on self-promotion.

"I've had 18 months off, doing a lot of writing and hopefully I have written a lot that is strong enough for the tour.

"I am not sure if I have done. If I have, well done me."

Stewart Francis is at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth, on Sunday and the Babbacombe Theatre on Sunday, November 24.

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