Paternal affairs aiding Jason’s gigs as kids make him nappy go lucky

Jason Manford 2011
Jason Manford 2011
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PARENTS are supposed to have a profound influence on our lives.

His last tour was called I’m Turning Into My Dad. And the latest show again draws on the wisdom of his father Ian; part of the routine springs from imagining how Manford senior would have behaved in historic situations.

“My dad is a funny bloke so I wondered how he would react to things such as the 18th century window tax,” says Jason. “They bricked up their windows back then to avoid the tax and that’s exactly what my dad would do now. Dads throughout the centuries have always wanted to save money.”

Then that grasp of the value of money has filtered through as Jason recalls his first big bucks bookings and his first weekend of club gigs which paid him £600.

“It was more cash than I’d ever seen and I tried to be cool,” he recalls. “The other comics were used to it. One was off with a couple of girls he’d met in the audience, another was asking where to buy drugs, another bought two crates of beer. I called my wife and she said ‘Great, we’ll get that laminate floor for the kitchen tomorrow.’ And we’ve still got that laminate floor, so who is the winner?”

Although Manford’s profile briefly had him co-presenting The One Show, these days he’s focusing on his family as a dad of three, as well as his touring commitments.

Having just turned 30, Jason is far from an overnight success. “It’s weird when people say my rise has been meteoric. I started over 10 years ago when I was 17, so when people say I’m an overnight success I say it’s been a very long night.”

His traditional take on comedy – observational, largely inoffensive, relaxed – hasn’t been lost on TV executives who gave him a full ITV1 run of Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford this year.

“I always liked storytellers like Jasper Carrott, Victoria Wood and Dave Allen. That’s who I see as inspiration. I’m not political, I’m just having a laugh and a chuckle. No-one has ever left my gigs saying ‘He’s really made me think tonight’, but that’s not what I want them to do. I don’t think anyone goes out for ‘a good think’ do they, they go out for a bit of a laugh.”

And he’s more than happy to be part of the new wave of comics such as Rhod Gilbert and John Bishop in providing that. With younger brother Colin now also doing the stand-up circuit – “I might have him as a support act while he’s cheap” – it seems humour runs in the family.

Jason is certainly finding measured inspiration in his twin daughters.

“But maybe if you’ve not had kids you might not relate to it. It should be easier when they are at school – everyone relates to being at school.”

Then Manford, who got his first break when an act failed to turn up at the Manchester club where he was glass collecting, has had to find gag fuel anywhere he can.

“I had 10 years to write the show that became my first DVD. Then I had to come up with a whole new show in less than a year!

“I’m constantly waiting to observe things. Sometimes the funny side of life is staring you in the face... you’ve just got to recognise it.”