Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Jason Manford - Live at the Manchester Apollo (review)

When I first started watching BBC's Live at the Apollo some months back, I was introduced to a whole new world of comedy. Before, I indulged in sketch shows or sitcoms, but had never ventured into viewing any shows featuring stand up comedy. However, Live at the Apollo quickly became one of centre things in my life - a 'cheer up' show that, thankfully, could be wathed over and over again on BBC iPlayer. The show itself introduced me to many great comedians whom I quickly became very fond of. One of which is Jason Manford.

Jason is probably the finest comedian to come out of Manchester, ever. In fact, if it weren't for Coronation Street, I'd say he would be the finest 'thing' to come out of Manchester. And while I adore Coronation Street, sometimes it's nice to take a break from the stresses of the cobbles and watch something a bit more light hearted to get my Manchester fix. This is where Jason Manford steps in.

Jason has appeared on all sorts of shows, and when he became a team captain on 'As Seen On TV, with the lovely Fern Britton as opposition, my passion for his comedy grew greater. Before long I was 'youtubing' his name on a daily basis, and longing for more Live at the Apollo appearances. Just when I thought all was at a loss as my 'Manford Fix' was becoming scarce, the news was broken that he was releasing a DVD. The world seemed a much brighter place.

I had to wait until Christmas to receive his DVD, 'Jason Manford - Live at the Manchester Apollo', which was quite a few weeks after it was initially released for public purchase. Thankfully though, I can safely say that it was well worth the wait. Now packaging of products is almost as important as the content itself, and this one excels. The main colour of the cover is a luscious sky blue shade, which stands out a mile away and helps you to locate the DVD in stores. Then, below the DVD title, you have a picture of Manford pressing a microphone into his ear. The image itself is quite comic, something that helps identify the nature of the show. Also, Manford used this picture as his Twitter profile image for quite a while (@Jason_Manford) so it is also something his followers could relate to and recognize.

With the thorough inspection of the design complete, there was nothing left to do but explore the show itself. I'd seen clips of the show, and liked what I saw then, so was completely looking forward to watching the entire thing. It lasts for a little over an hour, and this turned out to be a ball of laughs. Manford has a very fluent style, as opposed to those who just go for 'one liners', and the fluent style I prefer. He tells a lot of anecdotes in this which will have you crying with laughter. Some of these you will have heard if you are already a fan of Jason, such as the 'weeing in a bottle' or 'Chief Inspector Williams, Greater Manchester Police', but even still they never become less amusing. He tells them in a slightly different way too so not to lose the magic. Though there are lots of new tales for you to enjoy too, making the show a bundle of surprises.

What I love about this especially is the level of interaction with the audience. If I remember correctly, the first people Manford 'picks on' are two young lads in the front row wearing hoodies. Now unlike most audience members, the enthusiasm in these two boys was rather flat. Nonetheless, Manford handles this well and continued with the banter as best as possible, despite the almost-silence in these two boys. The rest of the audience interaction though went wonderfully, and I don't want to give much away, but there is a hilarious moment where a man talks about being mugged for his walkman. Given that this is the 21st Century and walkmans are considered a thing of the past, I cannot blame Manford or the audience for their outburst of hysterics. The 'mugged' also laughed along too though, making it such a great watch. That is just one of the hilarious audience moments you'll find, with so much more to add.

Once you've finished watching the show itself, you can select the extras at the end, which include Manford being interviewed by his brother, Manford interviewing the Manchester City mascot, and also a Behind-the-Scenes of the show itself too which is a delight to watch. Although these extras are not a necessity, they are still wonderful to have on there and make the DVD all the more thrilling.

Now this has a certificate of 15, which I would say is quite reasonable. There are a few moments where the language is quite strong, but nothing offensive. At around £10 from all good stores, this is a bargain of a price and well worth all the hours of laughter you can extract from this. My admiration for Jason has been taken to a whole new level for this, and it is simply encouraging me to see him live at some point (though I'll have to be quick, he sells out sharp!). Whether you are already a fan of Jason's or are looking to discover him for the first time, this is an absolutely fantastic DVD that will not disappoint.

Amy x

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