As part of Leicester Comedy Festival, this February sees the return of comedic legend Jason Manford with a new panel show with a whole host of comedians.
Currently on tour with the cats of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we took to our keyboards to have a webchat with Jason Manford on his career highlights, what he thinks to Leicester and his one night show.
How did you get into comedy?
I worked at a comedy club in Manchester at 16, one night a few acts failed to materialise and the desperate promoter asked if anyone fancied doing a bit! So I did!
Who would you say are your comedic icons?
Well Peter Kay was the first act I saw live who just blew me away. I thought he was fantastic. But growing up I loved Billy Connolly, Les Dawson and Tommy Cooper. I loved how my family would have tears in their eyes watching them.
How do you come up with fresh content?
I’ll let ya know when I do! Ha! No, I just listen to people, I read a lot, I have a radio show every Sunday on Absolute which forces me to come up with stuff. But listening is the best way. I’m never the centre of attention at parties, I’m always listening though! (That sounds creepier than I meant it to!)
How would you describe the process of putting together a comedic show? Would you say it’s fully scripted or a bit of improvisation as well?
I’d say for me it’s mainly 70% scripted, it has to be. But it’s very rarely in the same order. Then I like to mess about and chat and use new thoughts and see how it goes.
Now, we’re not questioning your funniness at all, however, has there been a time where you’ve performed and told a joke that you thought was going to land well, but didn’t?
Yeah of course, often when I’m trying out new stuff you’ll have a few duds. That’s the wonderful thing about comedy, it’s a total meritocracy. The audience never lie!
So far you’ve pretty much done it all, what would you say are your own career highlights?
I think meeting Mel Brooks before I starred in The Producers was a highlight. But I’ve had lots really, meeting the Queen after a good Royal Variety Performance, selling out the O2 and Manchester arena on my tour, performing at Royal Albert Hall, singing at the Bridgewater Hall with Alfie Boe and having a wonderful time filming an eclectic mix of telly from Ordinary Lies to Ripper Street. I love the randomness of my job, for example, right now as I’m answering these questions I’m getting ready to fly Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in Glasgow!
You started off your career in 1999 and have developed your career appearing in quite a few shows and most recently a tour of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. How did this come about?
I was always interested in musicals, did them all at school and college and university so when I saw an advert for an actor to be cover Pirelli in Sweeney Todd, I made my agent get me an audition! After 4 auditions for it I got it and was suddenly on stage being murdered by Michael Ball! It was magical!
Do you prefer theatre to stand up? Is it the same buzz?
No stand up is always the greatest thing you can do because it’s just so personal and direct. But I adore doing theatre and being part of a team.
You’re returning to Leicester in February as part of Leicester Comedy Festival. How do you feel about performing at the festival?
I’m really looking forward to it; I won the Leicester Mercury Comedian of the Year Competition in 2000 so it’s always been a special place for me. I’m doing a panel show with some very funny comedians so it’ll be something both familiar and unfamiliar for the audience.
Can you tell our readers what to expect from your show?
It’s a show called Panel Beaters, and it’s a gag filled panel show that we hope will one day be on a screen near you!
What’s next for you? A second book? A new live show? Perhaps one man musicals stand up show?
A day off I hope!
Panelbeaters with Jason Manford will be at Just the Tonic at Hansom Hall on Sunday 12th February from 4.30pm and 8:30pm. Tickets are £15 and available from www.comedy-festival.co.uk