by Annette J Beveridge
I have had an affinity with the theatre all my life and going to see a play or musical is always a highlight in my schedule. Last night was very different for me but no less enjoyable. Comedian, actor and singer – Jason Manford was performing for one night only at the Cambridge Theatre which is nestled between Leicester Square and Convent Garden in London. Hosted by Saga Possibilities who put on some amazing events for their members, I was able to catch up with my daughter Kyra Jessica Willis and we had the pleasure of watching the show together. She has the same love of the stage and many theatre connections and it was one of the best evenings I had personally experienced in a long time.
Saga Possibilities, without a doubt, chose the right performer for this event. If anyone was going to entice, entertain and enthral this audience, it would be Jason Manford. I can at times, feel uncomfortable when watching comedians, they need to be funny quickly and if I sense nervousness, I worry for them. But from the moment he walked onto the stage, he owned it. If he was tense or nervous, he hid it well.
The secret to Jason Manford’s success, in my humble opinion, is that he seems natural. You could imagine having a beer with him in your local pub and he would regale the same type of funny life events that he shared with us all last night. He laughed and we laughed with him….rather loudly. He comes across as everyone’s grandson or, in my case, like the brother I didn’t know I had. Manford has the maturity of experience but there is a twinkle in his eyes. He laughs at and with the audience but equally, at himself.
Manford sees life through a comedy lens, nothing is off limits. Even the slightly eyebrow-raising stories were wrapped up in a way that was wholly presentable. He has a way of painting a picture with his words that draws the audience in. It is not really the subject but how he performs the jokes. Quite literally, you are drawn into a slice of his life almost as if you are curled up as an observer in his sitting room. It is as if he is telling you something that he shouldn’t but he just can’t help himself.
The stories told are believable and relevant. You don’t question them, in fact, you don’t care if they are true or not, because for that moment in time, they manifest in all their glory before you. I had a moment where the writer in me wanted to analyse what was making him so funny, after all, there was a real mixture of ages present and somehow, his humour transcended this. Then, I realised what it was. Manford has that incredibly elusive thing called comedy timing. He has humour that you just can’t fake. It is as if he loves life, lives it fully, absorbs it but gains the most pleasure from sharing it. The jokes are funny but it is the delivery and his expressions that make it work. When these secret ingredients are combined, you have no choice but to laugh.
Jason Manford may be known best for his comedy but his singing voice is also beautiful. He switched seamlessly between his comedy act and sang very powerful songs. I didn’t question his ability to do so, the switch was flawless. He even invited well-known Westend singer Rebecca Locke to join him for a few songs. What a treat. Her voice lit up the stage and they harmonised beautifully.
The audience truly loved him. Looking around, I could see the same sense of joy and pleasure being shared by all. In these turbulent times, I would prescribe laughter as the medicine for everyone, no, I will amend that. I would have Jason Manford on prescription. I was a fan before and he didn’t disappoint. Seriously, if you get a chance to see him performing, don’t hesitate. You will come away feeling genuinely uplifted. If I had one complaint, it would be that the evening was over way too soon- even though he went way over the allocated time. So, well done Jason Manford and well done Saga Possibilities.