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Jason Manford, London Palladium review - lockdown laughs and feelgood fun | reviews, news & interviews

Jason Manford, London Palladium review - lockdown laughs and feelgood fun

Jason Manford, London Palladium review - lockdown laughs and feelgood fun

Worth the wait for this Covid-affected tour

Jason Manford frequently makes himself the butt of the joke

Tickets for Jason Manford's Like Me went on sale in 2019 but the tour had to be put on hold as events unavoidably detained him at home. "I hope you haven't gone off me in that time – it does happen," he said. He needn't have worried as the Palladium crowd were as delighted as he was to be in a theatre, having a laugh.

That modesty – part real, part knowing – runs through the evening, as Manford frequently makes himself the butt of the joke, whether it's who makes the decisions at home, or telling a deliciously self-lacerating story about a cringe-making encounter with one of his comedy heroes, Peter Kay. It's beautifully paced and has several payoffs.

The Mancunian's early years in comedy – now 40, he started as a 17-year-old – get a run-through (cue the Peter Kay tale), as do stories about doing his first drive-in and Zoom gigs during 2020, and a rather weaker anecdote about hosting a virtual edition of the Royal Variety Performance.

But Manford, a skilled observational comic, properly gets into his stride when he turns to the pandemic, and he makes some sly political points while describing the UK response to Covid.

He muses on the joys of home schooling (“The only things I remember from primary school are dinner ladies and assemblies”), why not wearing a mask makes you a tool, the one-upmanship of which vaccine you had, and how he kept himself occupied during lockdown. The voluntary work he did, he explains drily, was more to do with getting out of the house (he has six children) than being a good citizen. The ironic delivery, though, can't hide the warmth behind his gags, whether he's talking about his family, fellow comics or the people he met while acting as a delivery driver last year.

There's some audience interaction, which a few smart alecks at the Palladium tried to bring off the rails, but Manford, whose perpetually smiley countenance shows an occasional glint of steel, kept his focus and mined some comedy nuggets.

Manford has a lovely singing voice, has appeared in musical theatre and was Hedgehog on ITV's The Masked Singer, and there's a lovely musical callback that provides the show's most joyously silly section. Like Me is not deep – as the comic says at the top of the show, the point of the evening is for everyone to have fun – but its seemingly freewheeling air belies a tightly constructed 90-odd minutes of feelgood comedy. 

Manford, a skilled observational comic, gets into his stride when he turns to the pandemic

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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