Colin Manford Makes A Porno

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Egged on by a host, four men are taking part in a drinking contest to down a fluorescent blue WKD-style concoction as quickly as they can through straws that look like penises. The winner will receive a pair of ‘bath boobies’ or similar tacky novelty from Ann Summers.

This isn’t singles night at a Faliraki nightclub, but 6pm on a Sunday afternoon at the Manchester Comedy Festival. Thirty years of alternative comedy have led us here…

It’s part of Colin Manford’s first-ever solo show, performed in front of an audience of mostly friends and family whose enthusiasm isn’t dimmed even as the show strides past an over-long 80-minute running time. A less partisan crowd is likely to be a lot less forgiving of this jumble of ill-thought-through ideas.

The theme is that he does, indeed, intend to make a pornographic film. To that end, he ‘auditions’ some members of the audience, and shows us various clips of drama students doing the same script, each preceded by unfunny interview. It’s repetitive and pointless.

Cheap technology has blighted many a comedy show with unnecessary video inserts, and Manford – the brother of One Show host Jason – compounds the problem with an unenlightening interview with a genuine dominatrix, before subjecting himself to some humiliation at her hands. It is amusing to see him squirm, though if this video were on YouTube, you’d have moved on long before we got to this point..

There’s no real engagement with his subject, either in this interview or in a wider sense. Thinking boobies are funny is about the extent of it. When authors Victoria Coren and Charlie Skelton tackled porn for their book Once More, With Feeling, they at least tried to get under the erm, skin, of in the industry. Even the self-deprecatory title he comes up with for his porn film, Done In 60 Seconds doesn’t show the wit of genuine X-rated remakes such as Willy Wanker and the Cocklate Factory or An Officer And A Genitalman.

Amid all the downmarket audience competitions and gratuitous video is some stand-up, mostly on sex and of mixed quality. Mentioning such old graffiti gags such as ‘insert baby for refund’ on a condom machine doesn’t show much ambition, nor does his promise to show a girl ‘the best two minutes of your life… including foreplay’.

He fares better as a storyteller; though tellingly his best yarn has nothing to do with sex at all, but student parsimony. Back on his favourite subject, he has enough charm to de-sting potentially offensive yarns, such as his sleeping with a prostitute and so ticking off ‘Jamaican’ on his literal to-do list of various fantasies, but he’s no Jim Jefferies, at least not yet.

Manford is actually funniest when doesn’t try too hard. There’s the odd unguarded comment, or even just a awkward pause, that exposes incidental humour in the scenarios he describes, and often his own vulnerabilities. However, this unselfconscious approach is difficult for even experienced comics to master, so Manford will have his work cut out.

This might be his first attempt in the solo show, still ten long months before the next Edinburgh if he plans to take it there, but this patchy offering suggests that Manford is trying to run before he can walk.

Review date: 25 Oct 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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