JASON Manford is a man of many talents. He’s a TV and radio presenter, singer, actor and also a musicals star.
But now, Jason has returned to his first love: stand-up comedy. Muddle Class is his first nationwide tour in some years, and he couldn’t be more delighted about it.
“What I love about live comedy is that it’s different from everything else I do. Each night is completely different from every other night.
“I’ve been doing stand-up for 20 years now, and during a gig last night loads of stuff was happening that had never happened to me before.
“I was talking about women’s football, and a woman in the audience jumped to the conclusion that I was slagging it off, whereas I was actually praising it. She got argumentative, but I let her have a say. Then I turned to the audience and said, ‘She is saying exactly the same as me!’ I was a victim of sexism!”
Jason adds: “Things will happen tonight that won’t happen tomorrow and didn’t happen yesterday. Every night is unique. That’s the magic of live.”
Muddle Class is a hilarious exploration of Jason’s confusion about his current social status. “It came from watching other unnamed comedians chatting about being in the queue at Sports Direct. I was saying to myself, ‘You don’t shop at Sports Direct!’
“So”, Jason continues, “I started thinking, ‘What happens if you have some success as a comedian? Do you have to stop doing stand-up because you are different from other people?’ Of course you don’t. What doesn’t change is your relationship with your family and friends. There’s still a huge amount of comedy in that.”
As he started to develop this idea in warm-up shows, Jason discovered that it struck a real chord with audiences. “A lot of people count themselves as Muddle Class. They find themselves in a place where they think, ‘I don’t know where I belong anymore’. The show is about being in that sort of social muddle.
“Most class comedy is about people aiming upwards and trying to get out of the working class. Look at Hyacinth Bucket. But I’m aiming the other way. I’m trying to be perceived as working class, even though my life is now very much middle-class!”
What marks out Jason as a stand-up is the honesty of his work. His material raises such laughter because it is so obviously culled from his own life.
In Muddle Class, he tackles the subject of his desire to lose weight after he got stuck in a slide at a waterpark.
“Weight loss is something you don’t hear men talking about very often. We feel self-conscious about it. So it’s nice to hear a bloke discussing it. The subject transcends gender. Women come up to me after the show and say, ‘I felt like that as well’. I think that section works so well because it comes from a real place.”
He adds: “One of the things I really enjoy about stand-up is using other skills. I love playing different characters and doing different voices. Otherwise, it’s just one person talking for two hours.
“It’s a much better show if you observe other people and do things in different voices. Then it’s not just me showing off!”
Jason’s comedy also stands out because it is not trying to score political points. “I just want people to have a laugh,” he explains. “ I do like comedy with a message. I like satire and clever comedy. But no one goes away from my stand-up show thinking, ‘I had a really good think there’!”
n Jason Manford’s Muddle Class UK tour is at the BIC on Friday, December 7. See bhlivetickets.co.uk
Source : BournemouthEcho