Bread and butter stand-up from the north
This article is from 2007.
Too much success early on in a career can be a double-edged sword. Jason Manford first came to attention two years ago with an inspired, Perrier-nominated debut in which he exploded various urban myths and apocryphal tales. As a fan of that auspicious start, waiting to see what the Peter Kay-endorsed young comic would pull out of the hat next was a tad nerve-wracking.
I needn’t have worried. Manford’s new offering is a no-frills, bread and butter stand-up set, which triumphantly showcases his effortless rapport with an audience and deadpan observational humour. At one point he admits that, under pressure to dream up a concept or theme, he had briefly considered calling his show Funny Things That I Think until he remembered that the Fringe programme charges by the word. Preying on the mind of the 26-year-old is his spell on the Gillian McKeith diet (‘If you are what you eat, Gillian McKeith must have eaten a miserable cow’). He reminisces about gigging with Bernard Manning at the age of 17 (the late, unlamented comic advised Manford not to talk about wee and poo onstage as audiences find it ‘offensive’). Later he regales us with the tragi-comic incident in which his mate inhaled the contents of a helium canister.
Between light-hearted anecdotes, Manford betrays his adeptness at off-the-cuff humour, interacting with audience members and using their interventions as springboards to further tangents. At one point he asks a question of the audience and a man in the front row actually puts his hand up, straining his arm like an over-eager school pupil. It’s a measure of the likeability of Manford’s persona, his capacity to get people onside. Surely a glittering future awaits. (Allan Radcliffe)
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 27 Aug, 9.45pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8–£9).