Jason Manford Speaks About ‘First World Problems’


Jason Manford will perform his new stand–up show First World Problems at Sheffield City Hall on Wednesday 9th and Thursday 10th October 2013. The comedian talks to us about Salford, musicals and televised comedy. 


Jason Manford has not run away to join the opera, despite winning ITV1’s charity based talent competition Born To Shine and putting his new-found talent into practice by joining Alfie Boe on tour.


After also starring in the critically acclaimed West End production of Sweeney Todd alongside Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, you would be forgiven for thinking he really has caught the acting bug recently. But in his own words, he has not forgotten his stand-up roots.


In fact, the comedian is now returning to his first love and embarking on a huge nationwide live tour with a major new show entitled, First World Problems.


 “Some of you 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!”


A comedian with a marvelously charismatic style, Jason strikes up a natural rapport with his audiences. With this particular comic, what you see is what you get.


Jason, who has also performed stand-up on BBC1’s Live at the Apollo, Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and multiple Royal Variety Performances makes it clear he cannot contain his excitement about returning to live comedy.


“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."


The stand-up, who also hosted Show Me the Funny and Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford  for ITV1, continues:


"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!’ If you make one person laugh in a day, that’s great. Imagine multiplying that by 10,000!”


Jason underlines that stand-up remains his overwhelming passion:


"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. Overall TV is much, much easier. A lot of the time it’s just professional reading. It's reading while trying to make it look like you're not reading.


“Stand-up, on the other hand, is much more demanding. 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. 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.


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 a good gag!”


Going on to explain the title of his new show, First World Problems, he comments:


"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 were all complete idiots!"


He 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."


The Salford born comedian comes across in real life as a genuinely nice guy


“I’m the same on stage as I am in real life – which can be incredibly annoying at home! Jimmy Carr says that because he is quite rude on stage, if he says 'hello' to a fan in the street, that will make their day.


By contrast, because I’m nice on stage, unless I ask a fan if they fancy a brew, they’ll say, ‘He’s a bit rude’. I’m a victim of my own niceness. Sometimes I wish I’d gone down the Jack Dee misery route!”


Don’t go changing, Jason. We love you just the way you are.


Interview by James Rampton


For more information, head to City Hall's website. 



Irwin Mitchell Oval Hall, City Hall, Barkers Pool, Sheffield.

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