- October 8, 2018
One of the UK’s biggest comedy stars, Jason Manford, makes his long awaited return to stand-up with his new tour ‘Muddle Class’. James Rampton speaks to him ahead of the tour, catching up with the multi-talented entertainer.
Jason Manford is a multi-talented man. He is equally gifted as a TV and radio presenter, singer, actor, and musicals star.
But now, I’m very pleased to report, Jason is returning to his first love: stand-up comedy. He is embarking on Muddle Class, his first nationwide tour in some years, and he couldn’t be more delighted about it.
“Out of everything I do, stand-up is the job I love most. It’s great to be returning to the freedom of being in charge of what I say and do. It’s just lovely to be back!”
He reveals, stand-up holds a special place in his affections. “What I love about live comedy,” Jason says, “is that it’s different from everything else I do – TV, theatre, musicals, and music. Each night is completely different from every other night.”
The comic goes on to give an example. “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 that, “Things will happen tonight that won’t happen tomorrow and didn’t happen yesterday. Every night is unique. That’s the magic of live. I just love it!”
I’m trying to be perceived as working class, even though my life is now very much middle-class!
The comedian also adores the act of touring around the country and getting to know different places. He laughs that, “I get stir-crazy if I stay in one place too long. My whole adult life has been spent touring, and I love it. I couldn’t do a 9-to-5 job. That would hurt my head!”
Muddle Class is an 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.”
What is so entertaining about Muddle Class is that it is a very original take on the subject. Jason observes that, “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!”
Jason’s material raises such laughter because it is so obviously culled from his own life. For instance, in Muddle Class, he bravely tackles the subject of his desire to lose weight after he got stuck in a slide at a waterpark. Jason muses that, “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. It’s part of me being very honest on stage.”
He has an uncanny ability to really bring his routines to life. The comic explains that, “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! At the end of the show, I feel like doing a group bow because there are so many different characters involved.”
His comedy also stands out because it is not trying to score political points. Jason comments that, “I just want people to have a laugh. 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’!”
He confides in me that the aspect of the tour he is looking forward to most is being reunited with his armies of loyal fans. “People do seem to connect with me,” he affirms.
Jason concludes that, “A lot goes into making Muddle Class which I hope is a terrific show. The audience make an effort to be there, I put in the same effort, and together we create a great show. The audience is as important to the show as I am.
“It would be equally rubbish if either of us wasn’t there!”
Jason Manford: Muddle Class, Brighton Centre, Saturday 8 December, 6.30pm, from £30.65, brightoncentre.co.uk