Review: Jason Manford, Muddle Class Tour, York Barbican, October 5

SEASONED comedian Jason Manford is touring the country once again, tackling such topics as personal values, parenting and family on his Muddle Class Tour.

Appearing before a packed venue on the first of two nights at York Barbican, Manford wastes no time establishing himself as the typical northern everyman, electing to serve as his own opening act, rather than pay somebody to do something he can do himself.

This sets the tone for the rest of the evening, with the Manchester-born comedian exploring various contrasts and contradictions. While some are more effective than others, his sincerity and knowing self-deprecation make him immediately familiar and likeable.

Manford joyfully picks apart the gap between his ideal self and his actual self, a theme that he later builds on when he delves into the main topic of his show; the so-called "muddle class" problems he experiences when trying to reconcile his working-class background with his now rather middle-class lifestyle. Alongside basic British classist jokes about avocados and hummus, he focuses on his experience of growing up, contrasting it with that of his children.

Despite his light and fluffy persona, Manford still manages to touch on some more meaningful topics too. Self-esteem and interpersonal relationships both come up at multiple points, and Manford isn’t shy about sharing an emotional moment with his audience. It becomes very clear that these are topics near and dear to his heart, something which lends his jokes a sense of authenticity.

Jason Manford is a man adrift, riding a wave of cynical optimism that makes for a tremendously funny show.

Rob McKelvey