Francis Ellis never expected to be a comedian. He first discovered his comedic potential while working as a finance intern for the Royal Bank of Scotland, which one can imagine is not the most thrilling way to spend your summer. "It was so boring for me that I started writing jokes on a little notepad in my desk about my experience," says Ellis. "By the end of the summer, I had enough material that I was curious if anyone else would find it funny."
Although Francis was always a fan of stand-up comedy, he never considered it as a career path for himself. After his summer with the bank, he decided to organize his own comedy show at a bar in Boston, where he performed his first brief stand-up bit. "It was so bad," he laughs. "But, the thrill of it really grabbed me, and I decided that I wanted to see if I could get anywhere with it." During this time, Ellis was finishing up school at Harvard but still made time to do a few more comedy shows before graduation. Eventually, he packed up that fancy Ivy League degree and headed straight to New York City to see if he could made comedy a career.
Eight years later, Ellis spends time performing stand-up and other types of comedy shows, like the one he'll be bringing to the Charleston stage this month, but he also enjoys comedic writing. For two-and-a-half years, he worked at Barstool Sports, the wildly popular and controversial media company covering sports and pop culture, where he hosted a radio show and wrote for the website. Now, he's writing for BroBible, where his work focuses mainly on personal stories using hyperbole to create a comedic effect.
Ellis will make his first venture down to Charleston this January to put on a stand-up-slash-variety show as part of the 17th annual Charleston Comedy Festival. "I play some music in my act, and I transition between stories and songs to weave it all together. Sometimes I feel like a song is a better way to express where I am or what I'm talking about," he explains.
And, if you're unsure what to expect from this description, check out Ellis' Instagram, where you'll discover some of his most popular videos — songs written about Game of Thrones. These short videos Ellis recorded during the course of the final Game of Thrones season went viral on the internet as he sang about his love, hopes, and fears for the iconic show, accompanied by piano.
To truly get a sense of Ellis' comedy style, you'll need to catch the live show. Although he's able to extend and set up jokes in a different way through his writing, he believes his style of comedy shines through both in text and physical form. "Overall my sense of humor is present in both, which is very self-effacing, somewhat dark, and neurotic. Very neurotic," he says. Though his stories and songs focus on his own experiences, he likes to explore more general subjects that his audiences can relate to through these tangents.
And while we're excited to host Ellis in our city, he has his own high hopes for what his first visit to Charleston will be like. "I've heard incredible things. I know it's a big bachelorette capital, so I want to take a horse drawn carriage down the cobblestone streets with a bachelorette party." Sounds good, man. We'll wave to you as you pass.
$15 Fri. Jan. 17 at 9:30 p.m.
Woolfe Street Playhouse