JOE meets Jason Manford: "There’s only so many times you can hear ‘You fat bastard’ at a match before you stop smiling"
Jason Manford is in Ireland to perform at the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny this weekend.
We caught up with him to shoot the breeze.
JOE: Hi Jason. Have you performed at the festival before?
Jason: I haven’t actually, no. I’ve heard a lot about it so I am looking forward to seeing what all the fuss is about.
JOE: A mainstay of the Cat Laughs is the annual football match on the Sunday between the Irish comedians and the non-Irish comedians. It’s known to get very competitive, will you take part?
Jason: I would love to play, but I don’t know who to play for though! Technically with an Irish nana, I could play for both. My grandparents are from the Drimnagh/Crumlin area of Dublin so I’ve a lot of family from around there.
JOE: So do the family all come to see you when you are performing in Ireland?
Jason: Yeah, they do. People you would have met when you were 12 are getting in touch asking for tickets. “Can we get some free tickets please Jason?” “Yeah, sure you can, how many do you need?” “I’d say about 42”.
JOE: You are a man of many talents and we were especially impressed by your performance in the musical The Producers in the Bord Gais Theatre recently. You’ve also appeared in Sweeney Todd and Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. Do you enjoy the musicals and do you plan to do more?
Jason: I don’t know really, I’d like to get back to the stand-up for a while though. That’ll hopefully be my next project. I do love the musicals and obviously hope to get back into them some time in the future. If I see a great script I’m obviously keen to do it, it’s just another way of entertaining people. It’s no different to stand-up as in it’s neither better or worse.
JOE: Did you feel any added pressure when doing The Producers because it is the creation of comic genius Mel Brooks?
Jason: Well yeah, we actually had a meeting with him in London before we did the show.
JOE: No way!
Jason: Yeah, we were chatting about it and he said to me ‘You know you are a comedian so if something appears to you in the script that’s funny that I haven’t seen, feel free to say it!’ and then he said ‘My only rule is that if you say it three times and it doesn’t get a laugh, stop saying it.’
I didn’t think he’d know much about our show, but I was so surprised to see he was very abreast at what was happening with it. He’d say things like ‘I see Manchester is sold out, but Sunderland not so well.’
JOE: Getting back to the football and the Euros in France, will you be supporting Ireland or England?
Jason: I’ll be supporting both, but if they come up against each other, I’ll just step back and let them sort it amongst themselves. To be honest though, I’ve become a lot less passionate about football over the last couple of years.
JOE: You mean the Premier League?
Jason: Yeah, but also international football too. I’ve always been a Manchester City fan before I was an England fan, have always been club over country. Can’t put my finger on it, it might be all the money which has dissolved my passion.
Sometimes though, it can be just the people I am sitting with or around at a match and I include my own family in that. You know when people start getting really annoyed and start yelling abuse.
JOE: So you wouldn’t be too keen on bringing your kids to the matches then?
Jason: Sometimes I would, depending on where it is I suppose. I wouldn’t take them to an away game. There’s only so many times you can hear ‘You fat bastard’ before you stop smiling.
JOE: And your kids are asking awkward questions like ‘Dad, what’s a fat bastard?’
Jason: Yeah, exactly, saying ‘Dad, how do they know you and why are they being so horrible?’
JOE: Do you think your love for football could be rekindled next season especially in Manchester where your beloved City have taken in Pep Guardiola and United now have Mourinho?
Jason: I would hope so. Two strong characters. I think it could be great. We need more personalities in the game. I just think it gets so repetitive especially in the post-match interviews, same questions, same answers and I sometimes wonder, why do they bother?
To be honest, going to the matches is the only real time I get to hang out with my dad and my brothers so I hope to keep going. I like the actual game of football, it might just be the people involved that turns me off it.
JOE: So, final hopes ahead of the Euros?
Jason: I think all the local teams will do well. Ireland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. Can’t see why all four teams can’t make it out of their groups. Not sure if any of them will get to the final, but definitely out of the groups.
Jason Manford appears at the Cat Laughs Comedy Festival in Kilkenny this weekend. Full details of the festival here.