Stewart Francis: Sitcoms, Chat Shows and Crackerjack Cameos
Stewart Francis has been all over the news lately regarding a new sitcom he is writing so naturally this was out next question for him. He is quietly optimistic and can see it in his mind’s eye on the television. For him, the hardest task involves getting a production company into the picture simply given the sheer quantity of scripts they have to sift through before picking up the ones they think will be a hit although he does imply that some higher profile comedians can cut out the middleman.
One example of a pilot that surprised him was Milton Jones’ House of Rooms. Stewart thoroughly enjoyed this pilot but says that is another fine example of where great television doesn’t necessarily get picked up, straight away at least.
The sitcom will be based around his life as everyone writes what they know but his original idea does in fact date back to “a show about a show” that he originally wrote. He went back to the drawing board when the production company thought it would be best for him to star in it and this is the point he is at now. Having said that, he swears it’s not literally about his day to day life as “that would be just too boring.”
He was taken aback when we asked him if the sitcom followed the same lines as Larry David’s series Curb Your Enthusiasm as he replied that that show plays a big part in the pilot. “Although not exactly a homage to said show, it certainly is referred to multiple times.” Stewart also compares the show to Family Guy, which he proclaims one of the best shows going.
Recently, comedian Stewart Lee criticised producters for getting too scared and watering down content to provide audiences with bland entertainment. Although Francis agrees with this idea to some extent he replied “I’m just thinking funny, funny and as long as the producers are not coming in with their own agenda then that’s fine. Let’s just see how things play out. As long as it’s for the betterment of the show then I have no problem with that.”
Although the pilot writing is still in nappies we asked whether there were any plans for the cast. Given that he had asked permission to use a Crackerjack clip to introduce his latest live DVD we wondered whether 80s icon Stu Francis would be considered for a cameo role. We’re not sure how many times Stewart said “absolutely” but he was very enthusiastic towards the idea as a sign of gratitude for letting him use “I Could Crush A Grape” on the DVD. He went on to tell us how his wife was introduced him to Stu Francis when she commented on the physical similarities between the two of them. Stewart also questioned what his father, originally from Manchester, had been up to back in the day…
Last year also saw Stewart take home Dave’s Best Joke of the Fringe Award for “You know who really gives kids a bad name? Posh and Becks.” Previous winner Nick Helm said the award couldn’t be taken seriously as it was impossible to choose one single joke out of so many shows with most of the shortlisted jokes taken out of context. Stewart on the other hand says he was all over it and that when he found out from his publicist he was over the moon with the topic trending 4th in the world on Twitter and making it into the Canadian News. He says it was the wierdest feeling as he actually got word a good couple of weeks before the news was revealed publicly so every time he told the joke on stage he had that niggling urge to tell punters that they had just heard Dave’s best joke.
As the conversation drew to a close we were intrigued as to how he goes about writing jokes and were surprised to discover that he doesn’t actually sit down for eight hours a day to come up with the goods. For him the hardest part involves locking all the jokes into his brain about a month before going on tour whilst the actual writing itself involves things coming to him as he goes about his normal day to day business. “I talk to myself a lot” he says. He also admitted that “The higher the profile the less funny your jokes have to be but I do try and heep a high level.” Many people applaud his second DVD as bettering his first and this is an achievement he is very proud of as the first contained jokes compiled from the first 21 years of his career whilst the latter DVD was written in a space of only 18 months.
So, with The Return of the Lumberjacks Tour getting ready to set sail next month he also mentioned that a production company had already shown interest in a cabin style chat show featuring himself, Craig Campbell and Glenn Wool. Details were not specified except that the whole thing would take place inside a log cabin. What we do know is that an Autumn Lumberjacks tour is also planned and, depending on the momentum of the show, it could even be recorded for a DVD release. Stewart is hesitant to make too affirmations regaring his future plans as the rest of the year is heavily dependent on the success of his sitcom pilot.
Tickets are available for the Return of the Lumberjacks tour here, starting on 17 April.
Keep up to date with everything Stewart Francis on his official website.
Here’s the audio of the sedcond half of our chat with Stewart.