Jason Manford Culture

Jason Manford @ G Live (21.03.14)

The Lancastrian comedian, Jason Manford had the G Live audience in stitches on Friday night with his performance of his latest show ‘First World Problems’. The comic, who refuses to have a support act in his show due to ‘financial reasons’ as he quotes, played two hour-long sets and had the audience fully entertained throughout.

Jason’s easy ability to whip up laughter from the audience played a key part in his current set as the ‘First World Problems’ theme didn’t really come to the fore until the interval. The initial stages of the act were filled by jovial banter between man and audience. The late-comers, the front-rowers and even the poor ushers suddenly became part of the show as the customary ‘audience participation’ section introduced proceedings.

Two young teenagers, Steve the Policeman and various other members of the lower echelons of the audience found themselves conversing (for better or for worse) with the comedian as he warmed us into the show. However, what was unusual for a typically reserved Guildford audience, was the large amount of heckling that then followed as certain audience members wanted to make their voices heard. This was all generally done in good jest, but for those who thought they may be able to outsmart one of Britain’s top comedians with a quick quip, they were badly mistaken.

Top comedians often have a pretty tough ride in the early stages of their careers, playing at small, intimate venues in distant parts of the country where their name is little but a last minute scribble on a paper flier. So it is always pleasing to see when a professional dispatches these shouts from the auditorium with such consummate ease. Without a trace of aggression, but with the swagger of someone who has been swatting flies for a long time now, Manford answered these critics with plenty of wit as well as a beaming smile.

“It’s Friday night Guildford and there’s always one or two who have a few too many in the interval and get a bit brave in the second half”. This was ominously correct as, much to the amusement of our host, he was greeted in the second half by someone commenting on the change of his shirt. Very observant, but not that smart was the general consensus.

The audience had been asked to donate their suggestions of perceived ‘First World Problems’ over the interval and a selection were read out just afterwards. These provided some quick and easy laughs before the main crux of the routine got in full swing. The audience were treated to anecdotes about his time in Camp Bastion in Afghanistan, playing under “the only spotlight in the most dangerous desert in the world” as missiles were fired off and snipers were called to the front line during a show.

Manford’s easy and homely Northern comedy has earned him his status as one of the country’s top comics and the former captain on 8 out of 10 cats displayed why in the latter stages of the show. This included various jokes referencing family life that we can all relate to, like the concerns of his mother, how he doesn’t love his daughter “until 8am” and what happens when you reach the end of a count to three after giving your children an ultimatum!

There is an unfortunate shortage of high quality comedy in Guildford currently, so it was a real coup for G Live to have attracted one of the very top, A-list comedians to our town. The packed out auditorium suggested that there was certainly still a demand for this kind of show and the response that the audience gave would have further demonstrated this. Jason Manford himself impressed in abundance and was genuinely funny without having to rely on going to the extremities of what is socially acceptable, as many comedians have to nowadays to get a laugh.

James Martin