Notwithstanding the serious illness of audience members at his last two shows, Jason Manford is, by his own admission, not a dangerous comic, no Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr. A man of the middle in inclination and in terms of his insecurity about his waistline, the Salford-born comic strives to be instantly relatable. Having five children is considerably above the average, of course, but his kids afford him plenty of material, his lament at the joyless, ovoid people carrier he now drives striking a compelling tone of paternal defeat.
Comedy review: Jason Manford - Muddle Class, Playhouse, Edinburgh ****
The fact that he performs for nearly three hours, without anything resembling a dip, is partly testimony to his Sunday morning radio show. These thoughts have effectively been workshopped live on air with guest comics and the contributions of the Great British public, affirming the broader social observations that Manford weaves his experiences around.
There are two main arguments he wants to share, the relationship between them somewhat undercooked. The first is that our rational and irrational selves are constantly at war in our brains. Tossed out effectively enough, it’s never as concrete and satisfying as his queasiness about being “muddle class”. Caught between the refined tastes of his kids and the inverse snobbery of his plumber brother, Manford’s unease with his social elevation unquestionably chimes with Britain’s class consciousness, as he shares countless personal examples of the culture clash. Defining himself like this helps him to belong, he suggests. And you would be hard pushed to find many comedians with his hit rate and crowd-pleasing ease at playing the knackered parent.