British comedian Jason Manford has being doing stand-up comedy for so long it’s easy to forget that he’s only 38.
We know him from the stage, appearances on TV panel shows, his radio show and of course all the jokes he’s performed over the years (not to mention an album of show tunes).
Back in Dubai on Thursday July 25 to perform his latest show Muddle Class with The Laughter Factory, we caught up with the Mancunian to talk comedy, how the industry has changed and performing in the UAE.
Tell us about Muddle Class.
I’ve been touring it for the past year and we’ve done about 250 shows, so it’s grown and become a different beast really. This show is a totally different one to when I last performed in the UAE. I don’t even know if ten minutes of the show will be the same. When you’re on tour material changes, evolves and you get bored of saying the same things so you tend to mix it up, try new things and see what works. Also, new things happen you have new stories to tell and it grows. I look forward to bringing the show back and it will actually be the very last time I do this show. So that’s exciting.
What’s it like to finish a tour?
It’s a strange feeling. Only five years ago you would do a show and start doing gigs and keep doing it until you filmed a DVD. For this show, I don’t think I will film it, so if you came to see it and enjoyed it, that’s great, but if you didn’t come out to the tour then you’ve missed it. I hope that might encourage people come out and see live shows more often because not everything gets made into film, and sometime it’s good to just come out and experience something without it having to
You’re coming to the UAE but you’re also going to Bahrain for The Laughter Factory’s first show there – are you excited?
I’ve performed in Bahrain before more than 15 years ago. I did a comedy club gig there and I actually missed my university graduation. I never did pick up that certificate. That is my memory of Bahrain. I’ve performed in Dubai and Abu Dhabi a lot over the years and it’s always a great atmosphere. I love it here. I come out for holiday as well when I’m not performing. Every time I come back it’s like a new country, it always changes and I like that, I find it quite exciting.
There are a lot of comedians on the circuit these days – is it easier to get into comedy now?
The great thing about stand-up comedy is it doesn’t matter how many people around you are telling you that you are brilliant, the audience will find you out if you’re not. It’s a meritocracy, in fact it’s probably the only jobs that you live and die by the performance. You can’t trick people into laughing. That’s what I really like about it, it’s an honest art form and this an honest show as well.
How much has the industry changed since you started telling jokes?
Comedy has changed a lot and it has become far more accessible, there are so many more comedy clubs popping up all over the place. Now you can be an averagely successful comic and put an hour out online and build up a fanbase from that. There are a lot more comics and a lot more competition out there. So you need to keep ahead of them and you’ve got to keep connecting with your audience and delivering so they keep coming back. That’s my philosophy.
Is it hard for comedians to take criticism?
You’re not going to enjoy every single comedian you see but that’s the great thing about stand-up in my opinion, it’s subjective and not everything will be to your taste but if lots of people think a comedian or a style is funny then you can’t argue with it – there’s clearly an audience for it. That’s why it’s funny when someone contacts you on social media to tell you that you’re not any good, because you can say “well I am though, aren’t I? There are loads of people laughing, I’m just not to your taste and that’s ok.” I really like being surprised by new acts and seeing something I’ve never seen before.
Dhs230. Thu Jul 25, 9pm. Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, JBR, Dubai. Fri July 26. 9pm. Park Rotana, Khalifa Park Area, www.800tickets.com.