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A joke too far

Jonathan Schofield is puzzled by the reaction to Bernard Manning’s death – especially at the <i>Manchester Evening News</i>

Written by . Published on June 19th 2007.


A joke too far

A comedian is dead and it makes the BBC ten’o’clock news. It was part of Bernard Manning’s curse that he wasn’t just a comedian he was a symbol.

For many he was a champion of un-caged humour, a man of the people representing his generation and traditions: a man who mocked any target regardless of colour and creed. Thus if a black face stood out in a audience he’d have a go, but he did the same with a person just arriving late for his shows.

If we’re being kind the paper has just been caught up in the general confusion Britain feels about its identity – especially white Britain. If we’re being unkind they’re hoping for bumper sales in North Manchester.

To others, 99% of whom never saw him perform, Manning was a ludicrous dinosaur out of touch with the way the country was changing. For ethnic groups, feminists and gays Manning’s brand of joke-telling was obnoxious and threatening. For white liberals he was especially disturbing exposing a part of their own culture they’d rather forget. It’s fine when the working class are having jubilee street parties and singing jolly songs but not so good when they’re being stroppily independent. Manning, was never a benign working class representative like Les Dawson, instead he expressed the uncomfortable humour he’d grown up with.

And together with these polarised views Manning also occupied a carefully cultivated middle ground as a warm-hearted, family man who did lots for charity.

All these contradictions were - are - perplexing. So perplexing, that editors of newspapers get confused.

This is clear in today’s priceless Manchester Evening News. The main headline reads ‘Bernard has the last laugh’ and mocks the ‘politically-correct’ who turned their backs on him. Meanwhile the back page has a headline reading ‘Don’t let those race bullies win’, about City’s Nedum Onuoha being racially insulted during England’s match against Serbia. But surely dear MEN, the Serbians didn’t really mean it did they? They were just having a laugh like good old Bernard, weren’t they? Don't be so politically correct.

If we’re being kind the paper is caught up in the general confusion Britain feels about its identity – especially white Britain. If we’re being unkind they’re hoping for bumper sales in North Manchester - which is short-sighted to say the least. Hey, Hardman Street fellas, the world is changing.

So how will the big man be remembered?

Well, the simple fact of the matter was that Manning was racist – he admitted this live on the Mrs Merton Show. But maybe he was just teasing? That doesn’t matter in the end. By saying you are racist means you might as well be. And racism's an expired point of view – you can’t really have a popular face of racism as the MEN seems to think. This is a fact forgotten in the personal tributes following his death by people of many political persuasions. But then if you get too close to something you lose perspective, you miss the big picture.

In twenty years time Tony Blair will principally be remembered for the Iraq War, in twenty years time Bernard Manning, outside his family and friends will be remembered, if at all, as a racist, misogynist, homophobic comedian. Unlike Eric Morecambe, Manning will never get a statue tourists love to dance around. Nor will he ever gain the universal affection that his fellow north Mancunian, Les Dawson, still draws. This is a shame as he could have used his undoubted talent to be up there with this pair, in terms of love and respect.

But there is one lesson to be learned from all this. Liberty in the West is all about freedom of speech, which usually means we don’t shut up those we disagree with. We can ignore them or deride them but we don’t forcibly silence them. In the end time and public opinion does this, thus no TV company would touch Manning’s brand of humour.

These freedoms might be coming to an end if we’re not careful. Recent anti-terror laws and laws designed to protect people from discrimination may have gone too far. Some of Manning’s act in his heyday and latterly might now be considered illegal. If any action had been taken this would have exacerbated a sense of injustice, real or perceived, amongst inner-urban white working class communities. Surely it’s better to have the freedom to voice unpalatable jokes than have the thought-police in control. The bizarre contradictions in the Manchester Evening News are all part of this tradition of freedom of speech. And if they weren’t so ridiculous would be the real comedy moment of the day.

What do you think of Bernard Manning? Tell us below.

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92 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

StuJune 19th 2007.

Both Bernard Manning and Salman Rushdie upset the "Pakis". Bernard has aquired a bad name for this. But Rushdie is heading for a Knighthood ????Bernard mirrored the thoughts of every factory worker in the land, and anyone who worked in engineering knows what sort of banter goes off.The whole country has gone bloody mad - give me the seventies anyday. Manning was brilliant.

mirandaJune 19th 2007.

The law against incitement to racial hatred has been in existence since 1986. I for one don't feel that my right to free speech has been eroded in that time. I presume this is what the author is refering to by "these freedoms might be coming to an end if we’re not careful etc". Although I do like the idea of Mr. Manning being classified as terrorist threat to national security.

LisaJune 19th 2007.

I think you have to feel sorry for those without a sense of humour, I mean the man was a comedian! there are far more shocking out there - i mean jerry sadowitz anyone!

Simon AJune 19th 2007.

The only thing wrong with Bernard Manning is that he was a blue.He was no racist he made fun of everyone regardless of race colour or creed.It is this narrow minded minority with no sense of humour (also know as the PC brigade) that have brought this one Great country of ours to where it is now

Zak AhmedJune 19th 2007.

He was a comedian they say, "he had to make a living" even if it meant telling racist jokes...Well does that make it ok for drug dealers to sell drugs to children cause they need to make a living?! A dinasour...is now where they belong in the past...as do so many ethnic groups who have failed to integrate into British society...yes you did read an Asian Pakistani write that...

BenJune 19th 2007.

Well what can I say! He will be missed by his family but no great loss to humanity. His humour was poorly perceived and primative.

NathanJune 19th 2007.

Bernard was an absolute gentleman to those who knew him and also to those who did't and were just calling to make bookings at his club. He was one of the most generous people you could ever meet and and also a friend of my fathers family, when my uncle died from cancer a few years ago Bernard was one of the first people to make a massive donation to a charity fund set up in my uncles name and this donation might I add the donation was not a small one either. Lets hope that Bernard Junior can carry on where Bernard senior left.Rest in Peace Bernard and God bless your family.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

To call him a comedian is a massive disservice to those who really can make people laugh without derriding a whole host of society. I saw him once at a pub, doing his act, it was a vile display of self obsession and very inappropriate and dull waffle. I walked out, and never thought twice about seeing him again. I am sorry for his family that he has passed away, but not for society that this type of "humour" has lost one of its biggest supporters.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

zak i meant that he needed to make a living so only would keep telling jokes that sell and make people laugh. meaning that they obviously were funny for him to keep doing them

mackinnonJune 19th 2007.

Bernard Manning made me laugh! Jesus, i wish everyone would lighten up. He said himself - his jokes were told to make people laugh. Most of his jokes derived from the 70's a time when people were confused with a mass influx of minorities flooding the country and didnt know how to handle things in a correct manner.not everyone will like his humour. i do..........and will be telling his jokes in the pub tonight.See you down the Frog and Bucket you bunch of right on yoghurt weavers

SantaJune 19th 2007.

He was also very good a supplying me with turkey's at Xmas...or was that another Bernard?

simonJune 19th 2007.

I photographed him once. He answered the door dressed in a string vest, blue socks and oversized Y fronts with a cheery "F**k Me! I forgot you were coming." Not sure what this has to do with him being a racist but it's burned itself into my memory.

joJune 19th 2007.

What happened to freedom of speech?and the old jokes ENGLISH MAN IRISH MAN AND A SCOTS MAN!!!!!!!US BRITS ARE SCARED TO OPEN OUR MOUTHS INCASE OF UPSETTING OTHERS. TOO SOFT I SAY?

NeilJune 19th 2007.

Lighten up before you lose yourselves up your own ars*s! Comedic style and content is a personal preference. Much of it derives from taking the p1ss (to varying degrees)out of someone or other (Little Britain, Catherine Tate, TittyBangBang, Jimmy Carr, Stephen Fry, Harry Enfield, etc etc....even Peter Kay. They all do it). Personally, if I don't find a comedian or a sitcom funny, I switch off..end of story. So. Wannabe do-gooders, just lighten up eh and show a little respect. There was far more to the man than just somebody who told jokes. Yesterday, Manchester lost one its most loyal, hard working, genuine, kind and compassionate sons. Oh, and the world of comedy lost one of the best deliverers of a gag that ever lived, and who probably shaped the career of many more comedians. You WILL be missed. RIP big fella !

LilsJune 19th 2007.

Exactly Rick. If he was some London ponce, mam and dad working the jellied eels stalls in good ol' Lahhhdan he'd be a diamond geezer with that salt of the earth persona. Sadly he's not and the hacks are having a field day.

D.Smith Isle of White (Wight)sorry!June 19th 2007.

The M.E.N. wouldn't print my obit. to Bernie: "As John Brown said at the funeral ofQueen Victoria, 60 F-ing Glorious Yearsand only ever died the once .!" It must have been deemed- 'inappropriate' (for Bernard Manning .?)

morricesJune 19th 2007.

I thought it was ironic that on the same news broadcast last night, the newsreader was having a go at Frank Carson for Bernard Manning being non-PC and racist and yet Salman Rushdie offended millions of Muslims with his writings and he got rewarded by the Establishment.

John S. LockeJune 19th 2007.

I have to say as an add on (as if I haven't written enough!..sorry about this Lils!) that my partner T (who is of Nigerian and English parentage) and I also discussed Chris Rock and Eddie Murphy circa his 'Raw Live'days, and how they were equally as 'racist' in their material as Bernard could ever have been accused. My partner T, intently dislikes both of these comedians as well...they still make me laugh. As I tried to explain in my previous rant - racism is not just a 'white' thing, it is a human thing.No one is exempt from blame or superior enough to be above some sort of prejudice.Humans are unfortunately by their nature 'tribalist'...In the UK the Welsh are supposed to hate the English, the Scots hate the English, The English hate the French, The Irish hate the English, Scousers hate Mancs, Northerners hate Southerners, Jews hate Muslims, Catholics hate Protestants, City hate United...it is all the bloody same...tribalism!...And it is ultimately a load of bollocks!I am from Wales - I grew up in England - I am of Jewish and Irish descent - my Grandmother was a Scouser - My Great, great Grandfather was born in Ancoats -I am white - I am Protestant - I do not believe in God - I DO have Asian, Muslim ,Jewish, Catholic, African , Homosexual friends and I am marrying a mixed race woman....Y'see - Racism, sexism, tribalism ...'Ism's'...all bollocks!We all live in a multi faith, multi ethnic, multi sexual, multi football team country - END OF!... poor old Bernard became a bit of a scapegoat for other people's prejudices - we all need to look at our selves and our attitudes and beliefs before we can move forward as a society...then maybe we can all have a good old laugh at ourselves!

kezJune 19th 2007.

Awww R.I.P Bernard... this man had a huge following and a heart of gold.... he wasn't racist he was just telling jokes..give him a break -(

joJune 19th 2007.

What happened to freedom of speech?and the old jokes ENGLISH MAN IRISH MAN AND A SCOTS MAN!!!!!!!US BRITS ARE SCARED TO OPEN OUR MOUTHS INCASE OF UPSETTING OTHERS. TOO SOFT I SAY? LIVING IN MOSTON/HARPURHEY US BRITS ARE GOING TO BE THE MINORITY SHORTLY THANKS TO BLAIR.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

I agree with the comment on Little Britain, which I find politically incorrect and sick, but because it has been created recently by 2 so-called respected comedians then it is acceptable. I found Bernard Manning to be funny, some of jokes did offend me, but 9 times out of ten he made me laugh.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

He was a legend, and as he rightly said, Im not a racist, I just sl*g people off.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

Jimmy Carr is just as "racist" but the chattering middle classes like him so that's OK

eloiseJune 19th 2007.

Some of his stuff was very funny, some of it wasnt, like most comedians. However, with reference to the dig at mancunians who may think highly of Bernard, I will be less embarrassed at a big turnout for his funeral than the huge turnout for the Krays in the east end. As a person, he was a good man and did a lot of good things too. He put his money and fame (or infamy)to good use.

mattJune 19th 2007.

BM was an unfunny dinosaur. Leaving aside the fact that he was a racist, which he undoubtedly was, his act was just plain unfunny. His jokes were predictable, lame, and dull.

LilsJune 19th 2007.

John S. Locke, I’m sorry but I lost the will to live attempting to read that post. (If you’re going to ramble at least put it in paragraphs)Bernard Manning is dead … *shrug*. At the end of the day he was a comedian, not to everyones taste admittedly but all this racist crap? Jesus! I’ve heard bits of his material, some bits are funny, mostly its not my thing but never was I offended. The way I saw it is he poked fun at EVERYONE. He wasn’t prejudiced in that sense at any rate!I found him and his like a lot less offensive than Richard Pryor, Chris Rock … maybe I’m just a mardy arse white girl but given a choice of The Comedians and Richard Pryors stuff I know what I’d choose! But maybe that’s racist …. ??

John S. LockeJune 19th 2007.

I had a long and heated debate with my partner about Bernard as I was asked to talk about him as a guest on Channel M's 9 o'clock news on Monday evening, and She did not approve at all. T is mixed race and grew up in Moss Side with three mixed race brothers and two mixed race Sisters. She, and they experienced racism from both sides, from the white community and the black community. She was even the but of racist jokes and comments from her own direct family.Uncles and Aunts, some of whom refused to speak to her and her siblings when they visited, and cousins who refused to play with her, and many other horrific and painful incidents she recounted from childhood .She has also experienced racism many times from members of the Asian community, and we even experienced racism ourselves whilst walking together in the City centre from two Asian youths in a passing car.She pointed out a fact that disturbed me - our children will no doubt suffer racism in the future, and what would my reaction be to it?I had to admit that I would do anything in my power to either stop it happening or hold the racist up to account.I was involved in comedy for over 5 years as coordinator of The Manchester Comedy Festival and had discussions about the recognition of Bernard as an important figure within the Comedy history of Britain and also in Manchester, and I have to admit I found it difficult to argue with those who said we should not recognise him in any positive way.I found it hard to argue against my partners comments about how hurtful Bernard's type of Comedy was to her, and her family as a child and even now it resonates painfully for her. She recounted how her Father was the butt of horrendous abuse and verbal attacks whilst working and living in Manchester during the past 40 years and how he would smile politely when visiting friends and relatives who would tell 'funny nig - nog and paki' jokes in front of him and say ' we are only joking!', yet he would be visibly upset and angry later, when he was at home in private.So as you can imagine this whole argument has been somewhat confusing and upsetting to me as an individual at many levels.Who amongst us can be that politically correct as to say they have never had a thought or said something that could be perceived as racist. I know I have had these fleeting thoughts or uttered some heated expletive, yet I would never consider myself as Racist, in fact I would be appalled at the idea... but I would consider myself a human...flawed and full of contradictions and fears.I often find myself angry and flabbergasted sometimes when asking directions from a taxi driver in London or Manchester, or getting on a bus, or buying something at a shop, or in any of theses daily experiences, and the person I speak to cannot speak English or finds it virtually impossible to understand what I am asking them... does this make me a racist?...I don't know - I do know I often curse to myself about it.What I suppose I am trying to say is, I am confused with my own reactions some times - but I really hope and believe I am not a racist.I hate to quote the old cliche, about having lots of black and Asian friends , but I do - and I love them dearly - so how is it I could laugh at some of Bernard's gags. Probably because some gags that are funny are just that - funny... But it doesn't stop them being hurtful to the sex, race , colour, disability or creed that they are poking fun at.It also isn't good enough to say 'Oh don't be so miserable - it's just a joke' because to the victim it isn't funny...it's bullying and upsetting and damaging.We all need to realise that Bernard was of his time. He was human and he was flawed as most of us are. I never met him but I knew his work intimately as I was given the opportunity to watch hours of his performances whilst writing and directing a documentary about North West comedy for Granada almost two years ago.I had access to the vaults at Granada and watched lots and lots of his Wheeltappers and Shunters club shows, The Comedians and also the hour long documentary about his performance in Las Vegas.Only a small amount of this contained what could be considered racist material...lots of thick Irish gags, mean Jewish gags, and lots of sexist gags ( wife and mother in law stuff ) and lots of swearing, but little 'nasty' or hateful material, even by todays standards.I was taken by what an amazingly talented showman, singer and performer he was. The Vegas documentary was actually fantastically entertaining and fascinating as a historical piece of film and should be shown again.Bernard became increasingly hemmed in by his own image and the legend and public monster he became. But this was mostly his of his own doing.I recently met young Bernard and asked him a few matter of fact questions about his Father and his real beliefs, his answer was 'My Dad hates nobody - he just played up to his audience. How could he ever turn around and change his act after all those years?... He never wanted to hurt anybody - he just told jokes about everyone and anything - nothing was sacred'.Last year, during The Manchester Comedy Festival I went to see a comic called Doug Stanhope at The Comedy Store and also at a smaller, intimate show in Charlies' club.I laughed until it hurt at lots of his material, but as he got drunker and more angry he began a whole series of anti Jewish, anti Israel material which was lapped up by the audience, that I would say was made up of white middle class, educated, sophisticated 20 to 40 somethings and they howled along with Stanhope at what, I actually began to find, quite distasteful and racist.He also told jokes about sexual abuse and paedophiles that I found incredibly distasteful, yet the audience all continued to lap it up. Stanhope is also a great comic - fantastic timing and amazing stage presence, The Hollywood reporter and Variety magazine in The States have named him one of the most important comedians in the World today.He was recently booed off Stage for a joke about rape and ugly Irish women which he told at an Irish comedy festival.As I sat and watched his show I actually thought about Bernard and realised that Stanhope's act may have been more educated and erudite than Manning's, but it was just as racist and just as nasty to anyone who was the actual butt of his humor.I actually stopped watching his shows on both occasions.Comedy can be a dangerous tool at times and can cause pain as much as pleasure - it can be force for good as well as bad.I personally think that neither Bernard nor comics like Stanhope, actually ever really realise what pain there jokes can cause.I don't think that either men intend to hurt or abuse any person as an individual, but they do hurt people with racist humour - they hurt all of us.I don't think it is a question of wether a joke is funny or not, it's if it is a joke that may cause more racial hurt or ignorance, or lack of tolerance or anger or pain.Comedians, like all of us should think twice before uttering words that can cause hurt or prejudice - funny or not.I don't think Bernard was racist - I think he was politically naieve.I think he was of his generation and his region and he reflected his communities fears and prejudices at that time.Hi time has gone and I hope the prejudices of those times are passing also.I may have seemed to contradict myself and get lost in my own thoughts whilst writing this 'stream of consciousness', but I believe we all do, when we talk about race and prejudice - God,we argue enough in this City about Blues and Reds never mind Black or White!All I do know is that Bernard was a great, great performer, an expert technician in delivering a well timed put down or gag - a genius of a compere and showman, and he genuinely did do lots and lots of work for charity.His family will miss him and loved him, as will his friends. My partner will not, and neither will many people, but he will be remembered for many years to come.Myself...I hate 'ism's' and in particular my own confusing and contradictory human nature.I hope to have lots of lovely coffee colored children who never have to hear any jokes about 'nig nogs or pakis'...or hear hate filled ramblings about 'Jewish war mongerers'...I really pray that they don't, but unfortunately with the intolerance of all of us I doubt it.

DavidJune 19th 2007.

Bernard's legacy will be here to stay longer than most people imagine. You only have to watch Little Britain today to see that we as a nation still laugh (albeit guiltily) at such humour. His work for charity should be viewed separately, not used to justify his humour or to be cheapened by it.

Zak AhmedJune 19th 2007.

I work in Bradford as a lecturer of English as a second language. When I started last year, I was asked to cover a class for a colleague who had rang in sick. Teaching a group of Asian Pakistani women that morning, at about 10.30 a colleague turned up from the college and discreetly told me that I must return to the main campus...and she would cover the class instead.It turned out that one of the ladies had complained that she was being taught by an Asian man...Some weeks later a white male colleague covered the class with no issues...My point?It is not just the likes BM that needed to move on there are plenty of confused so called muslims that need to look at what their religion really is about. Not terrorism, not hatred( there are plenty of Asian racists) and not about muslim only schools etc etc...BM may or may not have been a racist, but he didn't help the situation and neither are the confused muslims...

HenryJune 19th 2007.

Ive seen the MEN today. Bit over the top saying they think theres a popular side of racism. Having dealt with jonathan the censor before, i bet this is more to do with you not seeing his name in that paper any more. they probably sacked him and hes making bitter remarks about his ex-employee.

Bernard RightonJune 19th 2007.

There was this Englishman, Irishman, Scotsman, Welshman, Pakistani, South African, American and an Israeli......What a cracking example of an integrated community.

JohnJune 19th 2007.

You're quite right 'have some respect', discussing Bernard like this so soon after his demise is very disrespectful but there again refering to people like my son and friends as niggers is pretty disrespectful too, so **** him!I had the pleasure of seeing him perform at the opening night of the Hacienda as part of one of Anthony H's less successful situationist pranks. His sad, unpleasant act went down like a lead balloon and it was wonderful to see the increasing panic on his face as he realised the contempt he was being viewed with by the audience.

Clive WilliamsJune 19th 2007.

I am Black and a DJ and worked in a club when Bernard Manning Was on.He said i don't hate anyone, but the people come to see me because of the jokes I tell, no one is out of reach.He told a few black jokes etc and at the end of the night he bought me a drink and said thank you for being a good sport. See you again.He also said I dom't care what anyone calls me as long as they put rich before it.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

bernard manning was one of the most kindest person you could ever meet the work he did for charities is second to none people who put him down for is comedy act should think long and hard before taking his name in vain

SJJune 19th 2007.

I'm a blonde female and have never found blonde jokes nor jokes aimed at women offensive, why should i, i'm proud of who i am! We're all different...so what! This country has gone PC mad! Bernard was a legend!

Ant OJune 19th 2007.

I feel for his family that obviously love him and will miss him dearly. However, I for one will not miss his brand of unintelligent 'humour' and the world of comedy will be better off now that his contribution is no more.

LindseyJune 19th 2007.

LEGEND...Bernard was a great comic and you have to remember he was born and raised in a time when "racist" humour was all part and parcel of the world he lived in. He would never harm anyone intentionally and he really never understood the big fuss that he caused. I drove past his house everyday on my way to work and he would always wave and take time out to speak to people - he loved everybody and his act was just a job that he happened to love - everyone has to pay the bills...A great friend of his, Roy Chubby Brown will I am sure be mourning him today...Bernard did so much for charity as well and people often forget that ... I'll miss you big man GOD BLESS YOU.

Andy HJune 19th 2007.

Kwasimodo walks into a pub and says "Scotch whiskey please".. bar tender says "Bells alright?".. Kwasimodo says "Mind your own f*****g business".. Bernard Manning Live 1990! R.I.P. big man x

yardyJune 19th 2007.

All of the above... Nothing was really black or white about BM, even if he wanted it that way. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech and not always pretty but I would defend it forever. He was a product of his time and his class and will hopefully be remembered in that light. RIP

Farley1711June 19th 2007.

This is genuinely the first time the racist, homophobic, misogynistic Manning has made me smile. Shame he couldn't have done it ealier.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

nothing wrong with it, its only human to slag people off to make ourselves feel better about ourselves. everyone does it, be it 'racist' remarks or not, does it matter. he is making a living and that worked, if them jokes didnt make people laugh he would have told other ones.....so called modern comedians still have these sensibilities at the root of their humour ... larry david in curb your enthusiam, making a mockery of judaism and its practices, but as he's a jew its ok, why is that.....every black comedian being as racist as hell, but apparently thats all in good humour too, because they are black, whats going on here. who's the racist one. using their ethnicity to tell jokes a white man wouldnt be allowed to tell. for us all to be equal surely black comedians should be treated the same as whites, but social barriers stop us, in a fear for being even more racist. its getting outrageous and going back in time if anything, all sitting on fences, petrified to step a foot wrong.

paulJune 19th 2007.

I think mr manning was a fu**** legend i have been to see plenty of times and like he said its all a joke and they cant stop us laughin!!! RIP Bernard

PhilJune 19th 2007.

At the end of the day who cares, he was just an old pratt that has karked it and he is hardly worth the regionals let alone the ten o clock news. Yes he was racist and homophobic, but then if you didnt like his comments you could walk away.

SteveJune 19th 2007.

Unfortunately he was racist. Unfortunately he was funny.

RickJune 19th 2007.

I think this is ridiculous. The man lived in a time when this brand of humour, as wrong as it is, was accepted. We shouldn't be all jumping up and down about how bad a man was when he has died. At least he made some people laugh, and if the embassy club was headquarters for the National Front as the media would have us believe, then why would black and asian people attend regularly.Also, why is Little Britain showing a woman be sick after eating scones cooked by a black woman any less racist than anything Bernard Manning has ever said? He's just an easy target for the PC brigade.The fact is the media is london based, and London just doesn't understand Bernard or Manchester. Good luck and god bless big fella. You didn't fit in here anymore anyway. I'm sure you're in a better place.

Phil LawansonJune 19th 2007.

MANCHESTER UNITED FC ARE O.K ... MANCHESTER CITY FC ARE BETTER !!!BERNARD MANNING WAS A MAN CITY FAN FROM MANCHESTER ... JUST LIKE ME ... ONLY FATTER & FUNNIER !!! HE TOLD JOKES ... AND I ALWAYS LAUGHED ...WHAT'S WRONG WITH THAT ??? ... IT BEATS BEING A MAN U FAN AND EVERYONE LAUGHING AT YOU ANYWAY ... MCFC ...GOD BLESS BERNARD !!!

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

He was an old school comedian when we use to have the freedom of speech and a sense of humour! The fact you cant even sing bar bar black sheep anymore says it all!

steve hayesJune 19th 2007.

It is a great pity your article regarding Bernard Manning started as a serious comment and deteriorated into a childish comment about the MEN.I was at his funeral, the church was full and the streets were lined and everywhere there was applause. There were Asians in the congregation. The carriage was pulled by black horses and the service had a humerous sprinkling of black humour. What a pity he did not live long enough to script the recent asian terrorist atrocities and the National Health Service. Was he really so wrong in highlighting the funny side of everything in life, not just blacks and do we all honestly really disagree.He was a master of his art.

CarolineJune 19th 2007.

You hit the nail on the head in your last sentence, Nick W. Bernard Manning was rarely ever on TV or radio because his 'humour' was unsuitable and perhaps his following wasn't as huge as some people think.

ritaJune 19th 2007.

I used to go and watch Bernard Manning regularly at his club and found him very funny. He didn't just take the mickey out of blacks and asians, he took the mickey out of the Irish, of whom I'm one, the Scots, the Welsh, the Americans, bald heads, big boobs, small boobs, going to the loo while he was performing you name it he took the mickey. I think our human rights are being eroded by the minute and we have let the politically correct, uber feminist lobbies take over without even realising it. Get over yourself and laugh at yourself, life is too good to take it so seriously all the time.

Jeff Thomson PRJune 19th 2007.

Some years ago I hired Big Bern to open a new Asian takeaway in Wakefield. He did the job very professionally and in no way showed any racist overtones. He was a true professionalin every sense.

MRREALITYJune 19th 2007.

Bernard, at least you were not a sycophant hypocrit. You spoke as you found.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

Fair play to Woman in the Dark, she really seemed to get the point of it all. Manning took the rip out of everyone, regardless of sexuality, creed or colour. As civilised people we can look at that style of humour and appreciate it for it's controversial content. Why can't we laugh at it, it's funny because it is subversive and we know it crosses boundaries. People also missed the point about the "Gene" character in Life on Mars - a fantastic characature of all that was and we know now to be distasteful. Didn't stop it from being funny though, and like Bernard, should have been taken in the right context.

CMJune 19th 2007.

In all honesty, I've always thought Bernard Manning was crap, and disliked his brand of thick, racist humour that helped people to think calling people "pakkis" was OK. But "anonymous" has got me thinking, why ARE people so hard on Bernard while so many others get away with it? The thought police are making me paranoid. Maybe he wasn't too bad after all.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

he was a relic of another time, and another way of life. we can be revisionist about our past attitudes but, when all is said and done, whether he was offensive to you or not, he made millions of people laugh. just like the black and white minstrel show we can't (and shouldn't) pretend these things never happened. i for one just didn't find him funny which for a comedian is kind of a nail in the coffin.

smickersJune 19th 2007.

Good spot with the MEN - pretty typical of a newspaper which has been going to the dogs for years (so much so they can't even give it away!). Manning was a nasty piece of work who used the excuse that his act was just that - an act. In real life he gave money to charity, loved his black neighbours, enjoyed a curry blah blah blah. But he traded on the base prejudice in order to fund his lifestyle and caused people to laugh by having a dig at those who were different. What does annoy me about discussions like this is the rather patronising way in which the chattering classes (such as there is here in Manchester) dismiss the working classes as being racist reactionaries. I want to stress though that the actual article doesn't do this - it's a really well-written, thoughtful piece - but some of the comments do. Grrr. The working classes in this country have always been on the "reception class" for new immigrants from the Irish right up to the Poles. They have been the ones which have dealt with their communities changing beyond recognition and they are the ones that have learned to live with it as well as generally accept and respect their new neighbours. There ain't too many faces in your Chorltons and Didsburys that aren't white. There are just as many working class people who find Manning's humour offensive as chatterers. In fact for many it is more so because he suggests he speaks with our voice (Even though I've got a house, car, degree etc I still consider my values to be proper working class, hence the "our"!)The flip side is that it is no surprise that the BNP is beginning to do well in the working class areas of north Manchester, which as a Blackley resident shames and scares me. But don't smear all the working classes with the Manning grease!

womaninthedarkJune 19th 2007.

As a woman... and a Black woman at that, I suppose the right answer would be to say that I'd remeber Benard Manning as a racist and a homophobe. In actuality I found him funny an archie bunker of sorts appreciated the humour, but with wack jobs like Mel, and Michael Richards running about I can see where our no nonsense attitude might come from. I will say some jokes were not appreciated and I will say that sometimes he crossed the line.But in all honesty what comedienne or comedian hasn't. We push the envelope because we are forced to...so in conclusion how will I remember Bernard Manning. As a man who thought he was funny, while quite a few laughed with him.

OwainSJune 19th 2007.

Interesting that the writer of this article (Johnathon Schofield) deemed it appropriate to group all North Manchester residents together as the sort of people who would enjoy a racist gag. Or am I missing the real point of your "bumper sales in North Manchester" comment. To be honest the irony of such a statement being in what is supposed to be a measured article, is almost too much to bear, or am I missing the whole post-modern tone of said remark? Maybe I'm too thick as I'm not from Didsbury/Cheadle myself - oops now I've gone and done it myself.......

smickersJune 19th 2007.

But Rita it's not about laughing at yourself - it's about being particularly cruel and unpleasant about people who are different to yourself. He was a nasty piece of work.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

There awaits one more comedian for you you. He has a pointy nose a goatee and horns on his head..oh and he carries a big fork...

Nick WJune 19th 2007.

Bernard Manning peddled a brand of humour based on racial stereotyping. You'll find the same kind of humour on Little Britain. It seems that if you're a fat Northerner on the working men's club circuit then it's vulgar but if you're a pair of luvvies popular on the London celeb circuit then you'r just being clever and ironic.Manning was rarely ever on TV or radio in my lifetime so he can't have been offending that many people.

brianJune 19th 2007.

Bernard Manning was not a racist, he took the mickey out off everyone irrespective of creed or colour or nationality. You can only have equality if everyone can say what they want about everybody else without fear of prosecution.

Zak AhmedJune 19th 2007.

Roy Chubby Brown .......yes the man who made fun of our dear lost ones of the Bradford football fire disaster..some comedian eh?...a friend of BM...Why am I not surprised there then!!!

andyJune 19th 2007.

Racist, but talented..

DB-WJune 19th 2007.

Bernard? what a man amongst men! I THINK NOT! he will be laughing at the attention he is getting from down below with satan, what a nasty narrow minded man he was alive and in death after reading his own little bit in the MEN, he was never funny, only like minded people seemed to find this man funny... comedy is better off with out him, normally im not the type to speak ill of the dead but to be polite very polite indeed RIP NASTY LITTLE MAN (little in the brains only not stature)

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

Alright, he may have upset a few people but to just as many he was very funny. Can't smoke, can't drink and by the way we'll tell you who you can laugh at. Where do these people get off on being so didactic? If I can listen and try to understand where Lord Ahmed is coming from when he says the British Government is being deliberately provocative in rewarding Salman Rushdie for his literature then shouldn't these people try to be a little less judgmental?

Karen the realistJune 19th 2007.

Being brought up a stones throw from the Embassy Club my family knew Bernard quite well, he used to mock my mum for looking like a "walking pillar box" on her way to the toilet in her red dress so everyone was at the butt of his jokes black or white. I find it offensive that people call him racist we have all received racist jokes on our mobiles!! Maybe black people send them about whites! Theres an element of hypocrisy here i think. He told more irish jokes in his club than anything and did they take offence? No because they were man enough to take it, if you dont like this brand of humour then dont pay to watch it or switch off simple, but dont preach to the majority in our country of origin what we can and cant say, we still have freedom of speech. I'm glad Bernard carried on regardless of the PC brigade as times will look back on him as the person who allowed us to laugh at each other and break the mould. Even black broadcaster Darcus Howe paid a visit to his club and ended up in stitches about a joke with a black man and a parrot which was great as he looked at it from a non stereotypical angle for once which was refreshing and he removed the ingrained chip from his shoulder and allowed him self to view it as humour and nothing else. RIP Bernard! we'll miss all your great charity work too.

Marie from BlackleyJune 19th 2007.

Bernard Manning was the last of the old school comedians, from a time when you could joke about whatever you wanted, he did'nt just make jokes about black people, he joked about all kinds of people. Newer comedians would joke about the same things if they could get away with it & thats what I loved about Bernard, he never changed his act just because some big wig with no sense of humour found it politically incorrect!He did loads for charity & was & always will be a LEGEND. Rest in peace Bernard, you'll be sadly missed x

Jim BowenJune 19th 2007.

He's not a racist. He was a legend!

zakJune 19th 2007.

I agree....with all of you. Now will someone do some work.

JanieJune 19th 2007.

I've seen Bernard do a set without any race/gay/lesbian jokes involved - just those directed at his mother-in-law and the rest of his family and it was hilarious. The fact that he also used to answer the phone when you rang the Embassy Club showed that he didn't hold himself in any kind of elevated position and he loved to have a quick chat with anyone who called to make a booking. I'm so sorry for his family and their loss.

joJune 19th 2007.

What happened to freedom of speech?and the old jokes ENGLISH MAN IRISH MAN AND A SCOTS MAN!!!!!!!US BRITS ARE SCARED TO OPEN OUR MOUTHS INCASE OF UPSETTING OTHERS. TOO SOFT I SAY?

DewyJune 19th 2007.

In my humble opinion the guy was a LEGEND. At the end of the day he was just telling jokes. He didn't mean any offence and told jokes about EVERYONE not just Pakistani's. Plus anyway, if you are offended then you simply didn't HAVE to go and watch him, nobody was forcing you.

men-issueJune 19th 2007.

Shame on the MEN. They did the same with poor Alex Hurricane Higgins. "lets hope he gets well.." Boll**ks - they used his shocking poorly image to shift papers.

KathyJune 19th 2007.

In the 1970s, when Bernard became a household names, it was okay to laugh at his jokes (well it was never okay with hindsight, but it was accepted)....but most of us have moved on and realized the damage we have done / did, by having these beliefs, and have changed.This is acceptable, as we see the damage our old belief systems have against others, and makes us humans.Unfortunately, Bernard and his ilk didnt, and this is to their detrement.

BenJune 19th 2007.

Never liked his "jokes", never found his "humour" funny.

stejaskiJune 19th 2007.

As one of the "gays" mentioned in your article-me and several other "gays" I know thought Bernard was hilarious! End of. RIP Bernard. (fave joke (that I can repeat here!-"Went to see that Pavarotti last night. Hes a miserable sod-doesnt like it when you join in)

mirandaJune 19th 2007.

My point being it is a typical tabloid style over-reaction to portray us as suddenly living in a 1984-style police state when the law as applied to telling a racist joke actually remains the same as it has for the last 20 years. Politics is a continually shifting balancing act between protecting the different kinds of freedoms people should all have right to enjoy, whether those freedoms be the right to free speech or the right to live a life free from intimidation. To read only knee-jerk reactionary comment on this process is disappointing.

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

why is it ok to tell jokes about the welsh ,irish, scottish. jokes about catholics protestants but NOT about blacks + asians muslims + jews like others have said if you dont like his jokes dont watch. It would be very hard to tell a joke without it upsetting somebody but at the end of the day its only a joke. Politial correctness is turning this cuntry into a sad place to be.

JohnDelJune 19th 2007.

the people making comments here make me sick. they are a bunch of want-to-be politically correct people who would not and could not laugh at themselves. Manning made humour out real klife situations - laughing at HIS own working class roots....HIS own upbringing - - -His misfortunes and mistakes. GETR REAL you lot lighten up!!

MelissaJune 19th 2007.

Racist, enough said!

AnonymousJune 19th 2007.

A British Asian growing up in England in the seventies I found Bernard Manning offensive and uncomfortable to watch. I was born and bred here, but was different.His sense of humour reinforced rascist views of my school friends who thought it was normal to be offensive. I appreciate that he has done a lot for charity over the years, but at the end of the day, he was an old fashioned comedian who went out of fashion rapidly and quite rightly.

Have Some RespectJune 19th 2007.

Whether you are for or against Bernard Manning, isn’t it a little disrespectful to be discussing this when he passed away less than 24 hours ago? Would anybody else who have lost a loved one over the last couple of days like them debated in public?

Bernard MannersJune 19th 2007.

I think that the whole thing is a joke.If you lived in some of the areas of manchester that I have its enough to turn you into a racist! Some of the communities in manchester are causing problems and It always ends up with the blame being allocated to rasism or us not accepting their cultures.People forget that england is a cristian nation and although we are tolerant and forgiving, some minoritories are starting to take the p1ss.Bernard Manning made some of these issues known in the media by taking a lighthearted look at them.If there is anyone reading this who hasnt told a joke about a scotch bloke or a paddy? Thats not deemed as racist and is well accepted, so why cant minoritories take the same approach, if they claim to be british?I personally think that we would all get along better if people had a sense of humor about such issues and turned the other cheek from time to time, rather than jumping on their high horse and claiming to have been "abused"Where will it end? In most cultures and religions it would be deemed rasist not to accept other cultures, and people like alf garnet and bernard manning are part of ours!

Black BobJune 19th 2007.

the man was a funny bast**** - and guess what, deep down inside were it really matters, he had red blood cells just like everybody else!

PaulJune 19th 2007.

so if a dog is born in a stable is it a horse ?

secret squirrelJune 19th 2007.

Lils-you can't format properly in these rants because Mancon runs some pre-historic software. Hence most posts look like the work of some illiterate muppet. Gordo/Jonathan- sort it out!Have you not heard of web2? Blimey!! :-)Lockey-good post-bit long but good.SS

AntJune 19th 2007.

I think its a shame that all the press focus is around his racist humour. Not that it excuses the fact but people new he was racist. A token one liner is offered in most articles about the amount of charity work he did especially for the North of Manchester. He put alot back into the local community especially with helping the aged. It would have been nice, especially for the local press, to highlight all the amazing charity work he carried out. He should be remembered for that, but the press know all to well that this does not sell papers! Rest in Peace Big Man.

HellersdadJune 19th 2007.

BM ceased to be funny years ago. I remember being at a dinner where he performed and made a great play about his Rolls Royce and it being the best car in the world, actually he'd turned up in some great lumbering American car, so so much for his patriotism.

blueyJune 19th 2007.

well said Dewey if you dont like him then keep stum.

JasonHJune 19th 2007.

Whatever your opinion of the man whoever attended one of his shows knew what they were in for and as such you have a choice whether or not to attend. You could argue that we, as a nation, are too PC. At least Bernard Manning was fiar in that no-one was safe!

Chris PaulJune 19th 2007.

Bernard was so offensive that his OWN son barred him from his OWN club. Bernard Manning OBE - Obnoxious Bastard EEdiot.

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