Jason Manford is what's known in the trade as a "professional northerner" and a Mancuniuan one at that. Fortunately he is also very funny.
Live at the Apollo (BBC1), Would I Lie To You (BBC1) 8 out of 10 Cats (Channel 4) Team Captain, Comedy Rocks with Jason Manford (ITV1), Frank Skinner's Opinionated (BBC2), The Graham Norton Show (BBC1), 2010 - The One Show (BBC1), Odd One In (ITV1)
After only five weeks and four gigs as a stand-up he won the prestigious North West Comedian of the Year Award, previously won by Caroline Aherne, Johnny Vegas and Peter Kay. Jason is naturally funny and has a strong, original set with wry observations and a genuine respect for the old comedy greats which has helped shoot this Jason to where he is today. Following his big break into TV, Jason’s phenomenal success means Jason is currently on his National tour playing at the UK’s biggest and most prestigious venues.
Now one of the most recognisable comedians in the business, it has not always been thus.
Born in 1981 in Salford, on the outskirts of Manchester, and of Irish descent, the young Mr Manford enjoyed one of those fairytale starts to his comedy career usually reserved for films and unlikely novels.
Jason Manford had always fancied being a comedian since first seeing Billy Connolly on television when he was nine and growing up with the likes of Eric Morecambe, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson, Jasper Carrott and Dave Allen, but it wasn’t until he saw fellow northerner Peter Kay that he decided to have a go himself. It was then that fate took a hand.
Back in 1999, the 17-year-old wannabe comedian was working as a lowly potman collecting glasses at the Buzz Comedy Club in Chorlton, Manchester, when a performer didn't arrive for an evening set. Seeing an opportunity to fulfil a dream, if only for one night, Jason Manford offered to fill the gap and a comic star was born.
Five weeks and six gigs later he was crowned The City Life North West Comedian of the Year, previously won by such other northern luminaries as Caroline Aherne, Johnny Vegas and Peter Kay.
Still based in the North West, Jason Manford's warm and friendly stage presence and acute observational material, all delivered as if he was one of your mates down the pub, soon brought him to the attention of the wider world, including "that there London" and numerous gigs up and down the country including frequent appearances as a favourite of The Comedy Club, as well as travelling further afield to the comedy hotspots of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and China.
Having won almost every award going in the north and north west of England, greater recognition comedian Jason Manford was nominated for the Perrier Award in Edinburgh in 2005 for his show Jason Manford's Urban Legends, a stand up show about these tales that you always seem to hear about a friend of a friend.
Stand-up Jason Manford’s first major television break came as a guest on the Channel 4 comedy quiz show, 8 Out Of 10 Cats, presented by Jimmy Carr. Jason Manford was on Dave Spikey’s team and would later go on to replace Spikey as team captain in 2007 and is still doing battle with Sean Lock to this day.
But the appearance that launched him into the big league as a TV stand-up and brought his talent to millions was when he was asked to appear on Live at the Apollo in November 2007, alongside Jack Dee and Russell Howard. A year later, he got to do the full show with 8 Out Of 10 Cats rival Sean Lock as host. Jason Manford completed the set when he returned himself as host in 2009.
Elsewhere on TV, he has followed the usual comedy path as a guest on panel shows Have I Got News For You, As Seen On TV and Would I Lie To To You and chat shows ranging from the established giants Jonathan Ross and Richard and Judy to young upstarts The Charlotte Church Show and proved at home with both sets of hosts and audiences.
He is also a popular talking head on numerous list shows, including I Blame the Spice Girls for Channel 5 and, as a lifelong Manchester City fan, is asked to give his view on all sorts of footballing subjects including their recent emergence as the "richest team in Britain".
Jason Manford’s footballing background also enable him to host Premier League Allstars Extra Time in 2007, an hour-long live show of chaotic and slightly inebriated interviews with former footballers, celebrities and fans who’d just finished playing in a six-a-side football tournament.
Less chaotic but just as much fun was Tonightly, the late night daily comedy news show he hosted for Channel 4 in 2008, mixing topical humour about that days news, sketches and guests including Ken Livingstone.
On radio, he hosted The Breakfast Show With Jason Manford for XFM Manchester and has appeared on
Loose Ends for Radio 4 and Out To Lunch for Radio 2.
Top Northern comedian Jason Manford was one of the voices in the BBC comedy sketch show, Walk on the Wild Side and has also emerged as a talented comic actor, appearing in Shameless (Channel 4), Gideon's Daughter (BBC1) and Cutting It (BBC1). His film credits include Sundays, Unlucky Girl, Go on, I Dare Ya and Terror. During an interview with Jonathan Ross, he also revealed an unlikely passion for musicals, including a short, impromptu rendition of Suddenly Seymour, and expressed a desire to tread the boards in the West End.
But it is live as a straight story-telling stand-up comedian that Jason Manford is happiest and best loved. His last tour, which ran from September 2008 till March 2009 included 94 dates, almost every night a sell-out - even down south. He aims to better that with his 2010 effort, which despite being billed as an autumn tour kicks off in June. It must be the Manchester weather.
In 2009 Jason Manford was one of the stars of Comic Relief, following previous appearances for the Prince's Trust and Amnesty International. He also became a patron of Save Babies UK, a charity campaigning for newborn screening, following the birth to wife Catherine of twin daughters in August.
Jason Manford completed 2009 in style with an appearance at the Royal Variety Performance and another outing on Live At The Apollo, this time as host, alongside soft southerner Michael McIntyre. He also released a DVD Jason Manford: Live At The Manchester Apollo and was nominated for the TV Times Favourite Newcomer Award.
2010 started in a similar vein when Jason Manford was included in the shortlist for Channel 4's latest search for the top 100 greatest stand-up comedians.
In February he appeared on the Radio Five Live's award-winning comedy sports quiz Fighting Talk, hosted by Colin Murray, making it to the final before being losing out to fellow comedian Marc Watson.
Never afraid of earning a few bob, Jason Manford is available for corporate hire, as either a guest stand-up for blue chip companies or hosting award ceremonies. His Mancunian tones can currently be heard on TV and radio as the voice over on the Churchill Insurance adverts.
WHAT THE COMICS SAID
"Hilarious" - Johnny Vegas
"One of the most consistently funny and effortlessly charming new comics around" - Jonathan Ross
"Very funny" - Peter Kay
"Manford is a very funny, very engaging performer" - Kate Copstick
WHAT THE CRITICS SAID
"Jason Thinks He is Some Kind of Comedian" - Mrs Cooper, English Dept, Oakwood High School
"A true master of observational comedy - his material is fresh and funny and his delivery is flawless. He brings the audience into his routine and copes with the rubbish shouted by the less-than-lucid members of the crowd with aplomb" - BBC
"Engaging and witty" - Sunday Times
"Like listening to your funniest mate" - Student Direct