Published November 13th, 2013 | Features

Jason Manford – Born to shine

Jason Manford takes time out of his new solo tour to tell us why stand up is his first love and how TV is just simply professional reading made funny!

After winning ITV1’s charity based talent competition Born To Shine, Jason Manford has not stopped! Joining Alfie Boe on tour, starring in the critically acclaimed West End production of Sweeney Todd alongside Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton and now the wonderfully gifted comedian is now returning to his first love and embarking on a huge nationwide live tour with a major new show entitled First World Problems.

Jason explains the title of his new show, “I’d seen the phrase online and liked it; it just sums up… those times when we moan about the most trivial things. It’s as if we invent problems so we have something to moan about. I imagine someone in the third world just thinking that we were all complete idiots!”

If you make one person laugh in a day, that’s great. Imagine multiplying that by 10,000!

Returning to the Floral Pavilion after having performed dates in September, Jason jokes that, “Some of you might think I’ve had a career change, what with all the opera and musical theatre I’ve been doing lately. Not a chance. I’m excited to be getting back to what I really love the most – stand-up!”

The performer, a first-rate observational comic who describes his show as “essentially moaning about everyday life, but with punchlines”, says the buzz you get from live comedy is unrivalled. “You can’t give it up!” he beams.

“People who haven’t done stand-up focus on the negatives – ‘what’s it like to die on stage?’ I always say, ‘It’s horrendous, the worst feeling in the world’. But the lows are so low because the highs are so high.”

Jason Manford LiveThe stand-up, who was also hosted Show Me the Funny and Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford for ITV1, carries on “It’s a huge risk, but when it goes right, there is nothing better. It creates a communal feeling that you just can’t beat. You get all these people laughing and you think, ‘I did that!’ If you make one person laugh in a day, that’s great. Imagine multiplying that by 10,000!”

Jason underlines that stand-up remains his overwhelming passion. “TV is simpler. You can do re-takes. A lot of the time it’s just professional reading. It’s reading while trying to make it look like you’re not reading.” Stand-up, on the other hand, is much more demanding. “On stage, you’re everything,”

Jason continues. “You’re the boss. You’re the performer, writer, editor, director. You’re even Ofcom.  You decide what to say. It’s brilliant.”

The stand-up, who was a team captain on six series of 8 Out of 10 Cats as well as appearing on QI, Big Fat Quiz of the Year, League of Their Own and Would I Lie to You?, adds that, “It’s also really interesting to see the demographic of my audience. I get grannies, their kids and their kids. It’s great to see.”

Jason reveals that his material is constantly evolving. “I only tour every couple of years, and the good thing is that over that time your life and the people who surround you are constantly changing. Also, as you get older, you get more opinionated.”

Jason smiles. “I’m the same on stage as I am in real life – which can be incredibly annoying at home! Jimmy Carr says that because he is quite rude on stage, if he says ‘hello’ to a fan in the street, that will make their day. By contrast, because I’m nice on stage, unless I ask a fan if they fancy a brew, they’ll say, ‘He’s a bit rude’.  I’m a victim of my own niceness. Sometimes I wish I’d gone down the Jack Dee misery route!”

The critics agree. The Guardian praises, “What Manford does best: classic, chirpy-chappie stand-up”. The Evening Standard calls him, “Effortlessly entertaining”. The Daily Telegraph says that he is, “Blessed with the sort of laid-back charm and sharp turn of phrase you can’t manufacture”.

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