SE­RI­OUSLY FUNNY!

Bri­tish co­me­dian Ja­son Man­ford may be en­joy­ing suc­cess now, but he re­calls the dead-end jobs of his for­ma­tive years with pride. Ahead of his Dubai shows, he tells Nick Alatti how he’s re­ally just the same as ev­ery­body else

Friday - - EVENT -

T he more you speak to Bri­tish co­me­dian Ja­son Man­ford, the more af­fa­ble and ge­nial he be­comes. Funny, ob­vi­ously, but so very charm­ing and un­pre­ten­tious with it. He’s also de­vel­op­ing a rep­u­ta­tion, which he is keen to down­play, for be­ing big­hearted with fans by charg­ing less for tick­ets to his shows than his fel­low comics. He even bought drinks for one set of fans – all 850 of them – at one of his shows in Lon­don re­cently as an apol­ogy for be­ing 40 min­utes late. The bill? £3,532 (around Dh22,000). An all-round thor­oughly de­cent bloke.

So no­body could be­grudge his con­sid­er­able suc­cess on the com­edy cir­cuit, which has yielded a plethora of awards and ac­co­lades and a string of sell-out tours thanks to be­ing a reg­u­lar on UK tele­vi­sion panel shows such as 8 Out of Ten Cats, QI, Would I Lie to You?

Odd One In. and

Now the 33-year-old from Sal­ford, near Manch­ester, is brush­ing up his punch­lines in readi­ness for two nights of mirth at the Crowne Plaza, Dubai, cour­tesy of the Laugh­ter Fac­tory, on June 22 and 23. “I’ll have to re­mem­ber to bring my [sun pro­tec­tion] fac­tor 50,” he quips. “But I have been there be­fore with the Laugh­ter Fac­tory do­ing gigs for them. I’ve also been to Abu Dhabi, Oman and Bahrain so I know the re­gion well. There’s al­ways a good crowd there.”

Ja­son will be jet­ting out to Dubai in-be­tween gigs in the slightly less glam­orous set­tings of Hull and Crewe in north­ern Eng­land, and says he has fac­tored in some R&R while he is here too. As far as the show is con­cerned, there won’t be many changes from the rou­tine he has honed in the UK but fans can ex­pect some­thing a lit­tle less ex­ple­tive-rid­den than some of his edgier fel­low comics. a few days be­fore­hand so I’ll be able to check the place out a lit­tle.”

Who would have be­lieved that a for­mer ho­tel glass col­lec­tor who stepped in at the last minute for a comic when he failed to turn up for his show would go on to be­come a gag meister supreme and one of Bri­tain’s fun­ni­est men?

Ja­son re­calls those for­ma­tive years when he worked dead-end jobs, not with em­bar­rass­ment but with pride. “I think of all my old jobs that I did, like work­ing on build­ing sites and in call cen­tres, fast food restaurants and shops and then I com­pare them to this and it helps to keep me grounded. When I did that first gig I didn’t feel ‘this is it’. I was only a lad. I al­ways wanted to do this job so it’s been amaz­ing. But those old days shape you and keep you con­nected to your au­di­ence, even when your life has changed a bit. You re­alise you’re just the same as ev­ery­body else.”

‘Those old days shape you and keep you con­nected to your au­di­ence, even when your life changes’

“It will be the show I’ve been do­ing in the UK but ev­ery place I go to I adapt my ma­te­rial ever so slightly. You know if you put in lit­tle lo­cal ref­er­ences you will get a laugh and you can get away with it a lot when you are a fish out of wa­ter. Dubai, even though it is ev­er­chang­ing, it never re­ally changes if you see what I mean? I’ve got some mates there so I will speak to them be­fore I go and ask, ‘I haven’t been here for eight years, what’s changed?’ I’m also there

J ason’s par­ents were al­ways sup­port­ive. Most par­ents whose chil­dren go to univer­sity would hope that a ‘proper job’ ma­te­ri­alises at the end

of it but Ja­son’s folks were dif­fer­ent. Prob­a­bly be­cause they were per­form­ers them­selves. He ex­plains, “My mum’s side of the fam­ily are Ir­ish and were al­ways in coun­try and western bands and in Ir­ish folk bands so it was al­ways within the remit, re­ally. They were never go­ing to be dis­ap­pointed when I be­came a co­me­dian. They weren’t those sorts of par­ents. My dad once said if you find a job that you love, you will never work a day in your life so he was happy see­ing me in a job that I loved.”

D es­pite his sta­tus as com­edy royalty, Ja­son is still a mas­sive com­edy fan and cites Michael McIn­tyre, John Bishop (a per­sonal friend) and Sarah Mil­li­can as some of his favourite con­tem­po­rary co­me­di­ans. He has launched com­edy clubs across the UK, de­spite hav­ing his fin­gers burnt when a pre­vi­ous com­edy club project went pear-shaped with debts of around £500,000.

“My brother Colin, who is also a comic, and I do it to­gether now and we’ve got about 12 clubs so I get to see a load of guys and girls who are just start­ing out, as well as comics who have been do­ing it for 20 years but have not been on TV for a while.”

Hir­ing es­tab­lished venues rather than open­ing a brand new club has been the key. “I tried the pur­pose-built club but when some­one rings you up early in the morn­ing and says the cleaner has not turned up you think ‘I don’t need this – I just want to make people laugh’.

“We might end up do­ing that again but not at the mo­ment. I al­ways knew there was money to be made out of laugh­ter. We are do­ing al­right but we prob­a­bly won’t break even for an­other 12 months or so. The thing is, we are do­ing some­thing that we are both pas­sion­ate about. As long as we don’t lose our houses in the mean­time!”

There are no plans to open a sim­i­lar club in Dubai. “The Laugh­ter Fac­tory is do­ing well out there and you wouldn’t want to be up against some­one you couldn’t win against!” says Ja­son.

T here doesn’t ap­pear to be any sib­ling ri­valry be­tween Ja­son and Colin. “We are very sup­port­ive of each other. He’s a lot ruder than I am; I am more fam­ily-friendly. I’ve got an­other brother who is a ma­gi­cian and we are all sup­port­ive of each other. I’ve al­ways been sup­port­ive, even of other comics. I don’t have any ri­vals.”

Ja­son sep­a­rated am­i­ca­bly from his ac­tress wife Cather­ine last year but he is still very much hands-on with their three daugh­ters – two of whom

‘I al­ways knew there was money to be­made out of laugh­ter – I just hope I don’t lose my house!’

are twins. But he is brac­ing him­self for more changes when the twins go to school for the first time in Septem­ber.

“I’m so tired. This tour has re­ally knocked it out of me. It’s been hard get­ting up at 7 o’clock and hav­ing a full day with the kids and then go­ing off to do a gig un­til 11pm. The rea­son I have re­ally gone for it this time is be­cause the twins start school in Septem­ber. I have been able to take them to dif­fer­ent places on this tour but once Septem­ber kicks in and they start school I’ve got to be around so I’ll take a cou­ple of years off for the girls.”

It is no se­cret Ja­son has been an ar­dent life-long sup­porter of Manch­ester City. “I feel bad about not play­ing Abu Dhabi and to be hon­est I’d do it for free,” he laughs. “It’s been won­der­ful watch­ing this big, un­der­per­form­ing club for so many years sud­denly hav­ing this fan­tas­tic sta­dium and team. What’s been great about the takeover of the club is that there has been no dis­con­nect from the lo­cal com­mu­nity.”

It’s Ja­son gen­eros­ity of spirit that marks him out as a spe­cial talent and in­di­vid­ual. He re­calls with a cer­tain amount of ret­i­cence the story about the time he bought drinks for the en­tire au­di­ence for be­ing late. “It must have been a slow news week,” he in­sists.

There’s lit­tle prospect that this will hap­pen in Dubai. “I’ll make dou­bly sure I am on time,” he prom­ises. “Be­cause I know what the traf­fic can be like!”

EVENT

Ja­son says he’s look­ing for­ward to a rest af­ter this tour

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