Jack Samuel Warner
Jason 'Entertainment' Cooke
Jason John Whitehead
Jefferson & Whitfield
Jonny And The Baptists
From his 2011 DVD
More Jason Manford videos
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Manford started his comedy career by winning the North West comedian of the year title in 1999. A year later, he won the Leicester Mercury comedian of the year, and was a finalist in the So You Think You're Funny? new act competition.
He made his Edinburgh Fringe debut in 2005 with Urban Legend, a show that was nominated for the main Perrier award. The following year he won the Chortle award for best breakthrough act.
He embarked on his first solo tour of the UK in September 2008, a month after hosting the topical Channel 4 show Tonightly
He became increasingly well-known thanks to his role on the Channel 4 panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats, and in 2010 hosted the high-profile Comedy Rocks for ITV. In May 2010 he was confirmed as the new co-host of BBC One's The One Show.
If Go Compare are looking for someone new to play their irritating opera-singing mascot, Gio Compario, Jason Manford could be a shoo-in.
Last night, he made his official debut in the West End revival of Sweeney Todd as Adolfo Pirelli, a moustachioed singing Italian so comically stereotypical you half expect him to start flogging you Cornettos, if not insurance.
The corniness, of course, is the gag. Pirelli is an extravagant medicine-show man and as Manford hams it up, overacting and shamelessly stealing the scene, he is only doing precisely what this comic-relief role requires.
He’s got a decent tenor voice, too, as anyone who has seen his occasional duets with pal Alfie Boe will know. This is not stunt casting – or at least not *just* stunt casting – as Manford more than holds his own.
And that’s quite some achievement when you’re appearing alongside the impressive Michael Ball, who as the broodingly amoral demon barber slaughtering his customers, is a revelation for anyone who dismissed him as a cosy aunties’ favourite for his middle-of-the-road resumé to date.
For his part, Manford only has a couple of scenes to steal – he could have doubled up at a comedy club elsewhere in town had it not been for the curtain call – but it’s a credible, creditable performance – even if neither accent he’s called on to execute is entirely rock-solid.
Yet his is not the only funny turn in this bleakly funny yarn. Imelda Staunton, no stranger to jet-black comedy after her stint in Psychoville, is nothing short of excellent in her role as Mrs Lovett, the pie shop owner who reverses her fortunes after finding a fresh source of meat from her vengeful neighbour above. She’s part welcoming hostess, part cold-eyed accessory to the crimes, manipulating Todd into reciprocating her love. It’s a vital part as her split personality is shared by this whole grimly comic musical and Staunton delivers a beguiling, hilarious turn that’s glorious in its wickedness.
Stephen Sondheim’s lyrics are as sharp as Todd’s lethal blades – witty, salacious and as contemporary now as when they were written an incredible 33 years ago. The murky staging adds to the chilling atmosphere and although some aspects, such as wardrobe, have been needlessly updated to the Twenties, the script and the mood remains resolutely Victorian.
John Bowe and Peter Polycarpou revel in their roles as a repugnant judge and his lickspittle beadle, and the band and ensemble, particularly Gillian Kirkpatrick as the schizoid beggar-prostitute, are joy. The only weak point is a romantic subplot involving the judge’s persecuted lock-in of an adopted daughter and her sailor suitor – both underpowered performances here – that can’t hope to be as intriguing as Todd’s murderous ways.
But it’s only a minor distraction from a bloody brilliant production of one of theatre’s best musicals.
|Date of live review: Friday 6th Jul, '12|
Review by Steve Bennett
Thursday 7th Mar, '13- Wembley Arena
Wednesday 25th May, '11- O2 Arena
Tuesday 22nd Mar, '11-
Thursday 25th Nov, '10- Hammersmith Apollo
Show - Tour -
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2007 -
Sunday 1st Jan, '06-
Show - Edinburgh Fringe 2005 -
Show - Misc live shows -
When the funniest thing connected to a comedian is his barely hidden penchant for tweeted photos of fans' bare breasts, you know you are staring into the mire.
An exceedingly ordinary comedian. What is the fuss all about?
Saw Jason at the Cresset Theatre (school hall) in Peterborough last night. The show was very enjoyable and he comes across as the kind of bloke you'd want to have a pint (of water in his case) with. Very funny, looking forward to seeing him at in Cambridge next year. Jason - I have 7 a week but please don't tell the Mrs!
Great stand-up. A delight to watch. A lovely man. Like a poorer Peter Kay.
Just saw him on TV at Edinbirugh.Brilliant delivery and timing. V good.
Jason ticks all the boxes as a comic. Excellent delivery, fantastic stage manner and quality material. Very very likable guy! The house in the middle of the M62 gag is brilliant.
Watching Jason Manford is like watching a master craftsman at work. His act is honed to an exceptional standard. The guy's house in the midst of the M62 material is one the funniest observation's ever, nothing short of brilliant. A great way about him on stage.
The guy's a legend! A younger, but equally funny, Peter Kay
|Jason Manford's comedy club hits back
'Farcical' reports about financial woes
03/03/2013 Permanent link
|You don't have to be Crackers to work here...
Comedians discuss their Sky1 shorts
29/11/2012 Permanent link
Jason Manford: First World Problems
Jason Manford Live
Walk on the Wild Side Series 2
Jason Manford: Brung Up Proper
Channel 4's Comedy Gala
Jason Manford Live At The Manchester Apollo
Big Value Comedy Show Late
Jason Manford: Urban Legend
Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Jason Manford & Friends at the Fringe
Misc live shows
Channel 4 Comedy Gala 2011
Secret Policeman's Ball 2008
Teenage Cancer Trust benefit 2011
Jason Manford 2008/09 tour
Jason Manford Live
Jason Manford: First World Problems
Jason Manford: Off On Tour We Go