Jason’s a man on a new mission

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Comedian Jason Manford, who is appearing in Chesterfield next week, has not run away to join the opera.

Despite winning ITV1’s talent competition, Born To Shine, putting his new-found talent into practice by joining Alfie Boe on tour and then starring in the West End production of Sweeney Todd alongside Michael Ball and Imelda Staunton, Jason has not forgotten his stand-up roots.

He is now returning to his first love and embarking on a nationwide live tour with a new show entitled First World Problems.

Jason joked: “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!”

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

He describes his show as “essentially moaning about everyday life, but with punchlines”. He says the buzz from live comedy is unrivalled. “You can’t give it up!” he beams.

“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 was also hosted Show Me the Funny and Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford for ITV1, carries on: “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!”

He adds: ““TV is simpler. You can do retakes.

“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,” Jason continues.

“You’re the boss. You’re the performer, writer, editor, director. You’re even Ofcom. You decide what to say. It’s brilliant.”

He now has a very wide fan base and says: “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!’”

He explained the inspiration for the tour’s title, First World Problems.

“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!”

Jason 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.”

Jason appears at the Pomegranate Theatre, Chesterfield on Tuesday. Box office: 01246 345 222 or go online to www.pomegranatetheatre.co.uk