Jason Manford @ The Theatre Royal Concert Hall

In a business where the most offensive, most controversial jokes seem to win (think Frankie Boyle), comedy-panel show favourite Jason Manford is refreshing in that he makes no bones about being safe in his current tour First World Problems.

That’s not to say he is totally family-friendly, coming with a 16+ warning, but compared to some comedians I’ve seen at some of Nottingham’s comedy clubs, it was quite nice to not have to apologetically glance around at the rest of the audience, cautiously asking myself ‘is it really okay to laugh at that?’

From the mundane to the frankly grim, Jason managed to get a laugh every time.

Some big-name comedians have warm-up acts, but within the first five minutes, Jason had assured us he was far too tight for any of that. There’s not even any music when he comes out on stage, which might feel anti-climatic, but actually goes a long way to nurture the ‘friendly face in the pub’ persona he tries to create. His jokes formed a nice crescendo, perhaps slightly slow to start, but unlike some comedians who fire their best jokes at you first, the night got better and better, even throughout the encore.

The night was punctuated with a welcome bit of audience interaction – we were asked to add our own first world problems on pieces of paper at the front of the stage, and at the beginning of the second half, some of the audience’s own were explored. From the mundane to the frankly grim, Jason managed to get a laugh every time.

What characterises Jason Manford, for me though, is his ability to make you laugh at things you can’t even relate to. The premise of First World Problems is a familiar one in every student household (I can’t believe I have to go to Sainsbury’s to buy some more milk – sound familiar? but I found myself howling just as loud at the jokes about children and being a parent as well.

His observational comedic style is entertaining and fast-paced throughout.

At times though, the theme of ‘first world problems’ did seem a little far-fetched, and for a show with such a focused title, I did begin to wonder how some anecdotes, though endearing and funny in themselves, could relate to the premise of the show.

However, his observational comedic style is entertaining and fast-paced throughout, and the slight lack of structure does nothing to detract from the fact that frankly, he’s damn funny. His unpretentious jokes do nothing to divide the audience – when he tells a joke, everyone laughs. The star of the show though, was his mention of a first world problem everyone can relate to: getting home, relishing the idea of getting into bed, and realising you’ve forgotten you put your covers in the wash that morning. I’ll leave you with that feeling of dread…




 Zoe Ashton

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