Jason Manford: Off On Tour We Go, Hammersmith Apollo, London
Friday 26 November 2010
"I don't get recognised much – well not until recently." So joked Jason Manford of his recent trials at the hands of the tabloid press. If he looked at all peaky tonight, it was more to do with the blue stage lighting than the after-effects of the exposure of his blue Tweets to female fans which led to him stepping down from The One Show. Here was a clubbable man determined to go about his business as usual. And he was duly firm with the inevitable hecklers. "You paid £20 and you brought your own jokes!" Manford riposted, after leaving a silence for his heckler to elaborate on an obvious, albeit well-timed cry of "Twitter!"
Manford was more creative than his detractors, without ever being much more than workmanlike. Like Peter Kay, to whom he is often compared, Manford cuts a solid figure, with dependable material to match. The biggest achievement was that he delivered that material with a sure-footedness that belied the upheaval which preceded this show.
While the heckling helped make this theatre gig feel more like a club night, some credit must also go to the TV star for using his Ordinary Joe quality to befriend the 3,500-strong crowd and draw it in.
With his eye for everyday detail, he paints some nice scenes. For example, there's the man at his local cinema is waiting for his wife to come out of the toilet, before seeing the feminist romp Made in Dagenham. "Women eh?" says the man to Manford, rolling his eyes. "This isn't the film for you mate," replies Manford, adding, "She's told you it's about cars?"
Given the strife that Manford's Twitter scandal has caused his own wife, currently pregnant with their third child, it's not surprising that she doesn't feature in any of his material tonight. The comedian does still have an extended routine on babies, and manages to get a good run of gags out of this familiar material. Meanwhile, the subject of marriage is distilled into a few nice lines about wedding anniversaries. (His parents have just celebrated their 35th, marked with coral. He says that while his mother associated coral with a visit to the Great Barrier Reef, his father had his eye on the bookies of the same name.)
It's at this point that the show's rhythm becomes a little disjointed. A routine about his fame and the success, or otherwise, of his last DVD is about as welcome as an ad break, even if he is self-deprecating with it. Another routine, about testicular cancer, comes across as part public service announcement. then there's Manford's pointed defence of another Twitter victim, Paul Chambers, the alleged bomb-hoaxer who made his feelings about the closure of Doncaster's Robin Hood Airport all too clear online.
All in all, harmless fun, demonstrable integrity, and no small amount of resilience characterised Manford's show tonight. His recent difficulties and response to them may yet see him grow in stature, and join the ranks of those assisted rather than distracted by scandal.
Touring to 29 November 2011 (www.jasonmanford.com)
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Taylor Swift, 1989 - album review: Pop star shows 'promising signs of maturity'
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - review: Silly, sensational but still sensitive
Breaking Bad season 6 hoax: Vince Gilligan has not confirmed a new series
Miranda Hart confirms eponymous sitcom has come to an end as she bows out on a 'high'
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are