Jason Manford has not run away to join the opera. Despite winning ITV1’s charity-based talent competition, Born To Shine, putting his new-found talent into practice by joining Alfie Boe on tour and then starring in the critically acclaimed West End production of Sweeney Todd, Jason has not forgotten his stand-up roots.
The gifted comedian is now returning to his first love and embarking on a nationwide tour with a show entitled, First World Problems. Jason will be playing at Milton Keynes Theatre on October 27.
Jason said: “Some people 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.”
Jason, who has also performed stand-up on BBC1’s Live At The Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and multiple Royal Variety Performances, cannot contain his excitement about returning to live comedy.
The performer, who describes his new show as “essentially moaning about everyday life, but with punchlines”, says the buzz you get from live comedy is unrivalled.
“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,” he commented.
“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.’
“TV is simpler. You can do re-takes. But you’re not getting an immediate response. You don’t know if something is funny till weeks later. On stage, you’re everything. You’re the boss. You’re the performer, writer, editor, director. You’re even Ofcom. You decide what to say. It’s brilliant.”
Speaking about his fan-base, he continued: “By now, people know that we share a sense of humour. They are aware of what they’re getting and I’m aware of what makes them laugh. The weirdest thing is fans who remember jokes that I’ve forgotten. Sometimes I say to them, ‘I don’t remember that one. I must put it back in the act’.
“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, who was a team captain on six series of 8 Out Of 10 Cats, as well as appearing on QI, goes on to explain the title of his new show, First World Problems: “I’d seen the phrase online and liked it; it just sums up so much. I think the phrase emphasises 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 are all complete idiots.”
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.”