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Jason Manford, Hammersmith Apollo | reviews, news & interviews

Jason Manford, Hammersmith Apollo

Jason Manford, Hammersmith Apollo

Enjoyable but unchallenging everyman comedy

Jason Manford is a great people watcher and runs through a range of accents and impersonations in his act

Mancunian Jason Manford is the kind of chap it would be difficult to dislike. Laidback, casually dressed, smiley and interacting with his audience in a totally unthreatening manner - it's no wonder that that demeanour, coupled with his everyman observational comedy, has made him a star.

He comes on stage to tell us there's no support act. “I'm not paying someone 60 quid to be slightly shitter than me,” he says. And then he deadpans: “I can do that.” He's joking, of course, as he's not shit at all, but rather an accomplished entertainer.

When he talks about something he's genuinely moved by, we glimpse a wholly different comedian

The first half of the show is the warm-up, he explains, and it's a nicely worked preamble to the show proper, called First World Problems, about how we should be grateful for what we have as Westerners, as many of those in the developing world don't have the luxury of being bothered by missing one tube train when another follows two minutes later. Actually, there are those in this country who'd be grateful for more than one bus a week going through their village, he says, not for the first time referencing his northern roots.

Manford is clearly a great people-watcher and runs through a range of accents and characterisations in his act. He also makes nods to any number of comics, including Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle and Michael McIntyre, complete with a quick impersonation of some. This is a man consumed by comedy, and it's no surprise to learn that he decided at the age of 13 to tell jokes for a living.

He mentions the gigs he did at Camp Bastion (where he was amused to discover that some soldiers play Call of Duty in their downtime) and, while the anecdotes are nicely self-deprecating, they reveal either that Manford's grasp of geopolitics is weak or he doesn't do his research; he uses the terms al-Qaeda and the Taliban interchangeably. Let's hope the men and women he entertained in Afghanistan know the difference.

At the start of the second half, a long time is given over to reading out his audience's definitions of their first-world problems – everything from running out of loo paper to misplacing the lids for their Tupperware pots – and this segment provided many of the night's biggest laughs, which is not a good sign. To be fair though, Manford mined them for all the extra comedy he could, and was nicely sarcastic about people's petty preoccupations.

What follows doesn't appear to have any connection with the show's title and is largely about being a dad, why children still get up early after the clocks have changed and the smart things they say. And then a long section of scatological material - fortunately mostly about his daughters' toilet habits – brings us to the end of the evening.

The show has some bursts of energy, but not enough to sustain its two-hours-plus length comfortably. And frustratingly, when Manford veers into political territory with a subtle swipe at David Cameron's espousal of family values while leaving his daughter behind at a pub, or talks about something he's genuinely moved by, we glimpse a wholly different - I'd venture a whole lot better - comedian, and a less obviously likeable one at that. But for now, we'll have to be content with the cheeky chappy.

  • Jason Manford is at Hammersmith Apollo, London W6 tonight, then touring until 12 April 2014
Manford was nicely sarcastic about people's petty preoccupations


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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