STEWART Francis is disappearing off Into The Punset, but he is taking the long route as he bids farewell to stand-up comedy, with still more dates to be added next autumn.

The Canadian comedian, writer and actor set off with the London home address set off on his grand departure on October 8 and will be touring on and off over the year ahead before a "last ever performance" at the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo on December 7 2019.

This master of the one-liner is giving Yorkshire plenty of chances to say"sithee", having already played Leeds City Varieties last night, moving on to Scarborough Spa Theatre tonight, Harrogate Theatre tomorrow and York Barbican on Saturday.

Further Yorkshire gigs ensue at Leeds City Varieties on November 7, Sheffield Memorial Hall, April 11, St George's Hall, Bradford, April 13, and Leeds Town Hall – what is this fixation with Leeds?!! – on May 24.

So, Stewart is this really the end at 59 or are you Frank Sinatra in disguise? "Yes, it has to come to an end at some point...."

.....Yes, but why now? "For a bunch of reasons, and all of them good, " he resumes. "A perfect guest knows when to leave and I want to turn my creative fires to other things, especially acting.

"I've had an amazing 30 years; I couldn't have asked for more, and it's nice to go out on my own terms. Every comedian has a last show but some don't get to choose.

"And this is probably my best work, though the audiences will determine that, but I always try to make it the best, and this is unarguably the happiest. Maybe I'm in a better place. As I do these new gags in the kitchen [this interview took place before the first preview at London's Soho Theatre], I'm thinking, 'gosh, this is good'!"

Stewart's stand-up career began at an amateur night at Yuk Yuk's Niagara Falls Comedy Club in 1989. " I chose there because if I failed, no-one would have been any the wiser," he reasons. In February he returned there for his final three performances on Canadian soil, with the gigs billed with a perfect definition of his comedic skills: "Stewart Francis's gags are razored-down one-liners with disarming set-ups lurching into twisted and bitter pay-offs".

Expect exactly that in Into The Punset. "It's what you've seen me doing before, the same style but with new jokes. There are puns, wordplay; there's some darker stuff, and though I don't dwell on this, some singing and dancing," he promises. Singing and dancing, Stewart? "That's what comedy does: you surprise people with singing and dancing!" he says.

He developed his one-liner comedic style out of insecurity, he suggests. "If you analyse it, there are two sounds I want to hear: either me telling a joke or you laughing. I don't want any dead air; I don't want to waste any of your time with long, rambling stories. I want to entertain, and I could have done 15 gags in that time."

Do you have a favourite Stewart Francis gag, Stewart? "That's like, 'name your favourite child'!..."

Go on! "I quit my job at the helium gas factory. I refused to be spoken to in that tone."

Stewart Francis, Into The Punset, York Barbican, Saturday, 8pm. Box office: 0844 854 2757 or at