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Jason Manford Interviewed

Marissa Burgess has a chat with the homecoming funny man

Published on November 16th 2011.

Jason Manford Interviewed

DESPITE the fact that Jason Manford won this summer’s ITV talent contest, Born to Shine, by learning how to sing opera, he won't be ending his show tonight at the MEN Arena with a song. 

“When they asked me to write the autobiography I was 28. Then you hear that Jordan's got three out you think sod it, may as well have a go, I've got funnier stories than her.

“Peter Kay ended with a big musical number, and Lee Evans, but I just do jokes really. I've not got a big end to my arena show.” 

But hang on a minute, didn't we hear you do a song on last year's tour? “No, not really,” he fudges, “I did one night at the Apollo and did a song.” So no, we can't persuade him to croon a number. 

It's the comedian’s second date at the MEN (he played it back in April when he filmed his Live DVD), and again the set will be a typical Manford one; full of straight stand up with, of course, a high gag per minute rating. 

“The show's grown and grown. I started off doing ten minutes at a new material night at the Comedy Store, and now it's grown to this, a big two hour show at the Arena. It covers everything from talking about the kids and being a dad (he has three daughters), to the riots, showering, football and the Duke of Edinburgh. It's stand up, it's always hard to go, 'these are the themes of what I'm on about.' I'm just saying some funny stories for a couple of hours.” 

It's an uncomplicated style that has made him a household name. I first saw him aged eighteen at XSMalarkey in Fallowfield, playing to a lovely crowd in a small room. Manford was trying out some material as he was soon to compete in a long running North West comedy competition, and having only played a handful of gigs, he was getting the stage time in to work on his material. 

To watch him, even back then, it never really felt like he needed to work at it. Manford went on to win the competition largely due to his easy charm, and the apparently effortless delivery of material that everyone could relate to – a style he still exhibits today, twelve years on. 

His very first gig was an equally down to earth, but fortuitous event. But on this occasion, I'm not going to ask him about that, I've done it several times before and the story of his first gig is, these days, the stuff of local comedy circuit folklore. Instead he's committed it to his autobiography. “Well I've written it down now, it's in chapter eleven, and I'm never telling that story again,” he laughs. 

For those not in the know, and who haven't read the book yet, Manford was a glass collector at the Buzz Comedy Club above the Southern pub in Chorlton. When an act didn't turn up it was suggested to Agraman, the legendary promoter, that Manford have a go. The aforementioned autobiography covers the episode perfectly, relating Manford's transformation from humble pot washer to rising comedy star. In fact the autobiography, Brung Up Proper, in general is a great read - a series of vignettes from his life so far. It trips along at a fair old pace too. It's penned with humour, yet is heartfelt. 

“But was it not odd to have your autobiography out at just 30?” I ask. 

“When they asked me to write it I was 28. Then you hear that Jordan's got three out you think sod it, may as well have a go, I've got funnier stories than her. People say ‘how did you get started in comedy, where do you get your material from,’ well here's a book read that, that'll tell yer,” he chortles. 


Gearing up for tonight's gig he ponders the previous Arena date in April, “It was brilliant,” he recalls. “I loved it because it was 12,000 people who all want you to do well, and you know, we had a laugh and all your family are in. I really loved it, really enjoyed it. And you've got a local crowd in that you can do local stuff with that you can't get away with elsewhere. And this one hopefully will be the same.” 

Though he's definitely not singing tonight, he doesn't rule it out for the future: “It was good fun that,” he muses, recalling his tenor training. “I just put the work in really, did it every day, managed to get there. It was good. I'd like to do something else singing wise at some point.” 

Jason Manford is at the Manchester Evening News Arena tonight. The live DVD and autobiography Brung Up Proper are out now.

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