Game for a laugh: Comedian Jason Manford

Comedian Jason Manford
Comedian Jason Manford
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My Life: Catherine Scott talks to Jason Manford

When Jason Manford was caught in traffic which made him late for a gig, he endeared himself to his audience by buying them all a drink.

The comedian went onto Facebook to inform fans he was stuck on Woodhead Pass as he made his way from his home town of Salford to the gig in Lincoln.

He told them to go to the bar and have a drink on him. The gesture pleased fans and cost Manford £3,500.

It seems this type of gesture is indictive of Manford, who is known for being exceedingly nice.

“Nice” might not be something that stand-up comedians are generally known for being, but it is something which has seen him bond with audiences up and down the country in his current “First World Problems” tour which brings him to Hull in June.

“I’ve been really enjoying this show; I have fun with the audience, it’s very friendly and relaxed and I never get bored of it – it’s an absolute joy. I love being on stage and I want to say a huge thank you to the brilliant crowds for their loyal support,” he says.

Salford-born Manford’s charismatic style strikes up a natural rapport with his audiences and generates rare warmth on stage. He cleverly lays on his own warm-up for each show and encourages audience participation which leads to hilarious exchanges, with fans providing their own “First World Problems”.

In person Jason manifests the same likeable magnetism that draws thousands of fans to his live shows. His winning friendliness is no act.

He began his career in 1999, while working at the Buzz Comedy Club upstairs at the Southern Hotel in Chorlton, Manchester. He was collecting glasses when a performer didn’t arrive for an evening set, so Manford, who was 17 at the time stepped in to fill the gap, an event which marked the beginning of his comedy career. Six gigs later he was crowned The City Life North West Comedian of the Year.

After winning several smaller awards, he was nominated for the Perrier Award in Edinburgh in 2005 for his show ‘Urban Legends.’

His first major television appearance was when he was a guest on the Channel 4 panel show, 8 out of 10 Cats, presented by Jimmy Carr; he was on Dave Spikey’s team alongside Piers Morgan, and would later go on to replace Spikey as team captain in 2007 and continued in the role until 2011. He then hosted his own comedy variety show Comedy Rocks on ITV.

But it was appearing and winning the show Born to Shine with his amazing operatic skills, which showed a different side to him.

But he is now back to his first love – stand-up.

“You can’t give it up. 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. 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!’ ”

As for being nice, he can’t deny it. “I’m the same on stage as I am in real life. 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.”