Jason Manford at Latitude | Gig review by Steve Bennett

Jason Manford at Latitude

Gig review by Steve Bennett

When it comes to bookings, Latitude seeks the alternative, credible bands – but on comedy its tastes are notably more mainstream, with Jason Manford closing the tent for the weekend. What next? One Direction closing the main Obelisk Arena?

‘I am the least offensive comic going,’ he says before regaling the time even he attracted complaints to The One Show with a silly joke about the woman who put a cat in a wheelie bin. What he did on the telly was funny, though his preamble joke about putting it in the wrong sort of bin might have been past its tell-by date in the week the story broke…

The audience here don’t care, though. They also applaud a fairly standard bit of banter with the audience and he gets a great response to a line long used by the shipbuilders of Belfast about their handiwork on the Titanic. This he tells via an exchange with a heckler in Northern Ireland; since anecdotes from other gigs are a mainstay of his act. With 17 years in the business he has enough of them, but nothing is quite as funny as him playing Camp Bastion, when he becomes the hapless civilian well out of his comfort zone.

The other main strand of his hour-long set is bringing up his kids, apt enough for this family-friendly festival. His struggles to maintain discipline and his daughters’ fast-developing sense of humour are certainly high-yield topics, generating plenty of laughs. It’s clear this is genuinely drawn from a life that’s so dominated by Fireman Sam that he treats on scene as if it’s an animated Zapruder film, revealing a conspiracy that might rock the denizens of Pontypandy.

Authenticity is what makes most comedians, and that’s especially true of Manford who always comes across as a chipper man of the people, just joshing with the audience. He’s that rarity of being the ‘funny one’ among his mates who’s been able to translate that into a hugely successful career. His closing routine is based on a tale a fan came up and told him – as Manford is surely the sort of comic blokes want to share their tales with. Normally being told ‘here’s one for you…’ is anathema for stand-ups, but this generated a great story, which is retold expertly here.

He hasn’t been to Latitude for nine years, and hasn’t played any other outdoor festivals in the meantime, but it’s not for want of appreciation. The audience here love him, no matter what his level of cool.

Review date: 20 Jul 2015
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Latitude

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