Jason Manford stands up for comedy masterclass
Jason Manford came home to the University of Salford yesterday (Wednesday 30 January) when he passed on advice and tips from his successful comedy and writing career to more than 50 performance students.
The Salford-born comic gave a masterclass to an audience of students and staff at the University’s Adelphi Studio, where he graduated with a BA in Media and Performance in 2004. Since then he has become one of the nation’s best known stand-up comedians and TV personalities, with credits including Live at the Apollo, 8 Out of 10 Cats, Comedy World Cup and a stint starring in Sweeney Todd in London last year. He will be touring the UK with his new stand-up show First World Problems from May.
During the lively question and answer session with Comedy Practices BA and other Performance students, Jason talked about his experiences from a 15-year career in comedy, including the importance of disappointment and knock-backs in driving a comedian to improve; the balancing act between over-confidence and insecurity; how social media is now an important part of his writing process; and how to deal with hecklers.
He cited Billy Connolly, Tommy Cooper, Les Dawson and Peter Kay as his major comedy heroes, and explained that is was former Salford student Peter who helped him get a place on the Media and Performance HND which eventually led on to the BA degree.
Commenting on the comedy industry today and the University’s new Comedy Practices course, Jason said: “I think the business is much more competitive now than when I started out and courses like the degree at Salford can help people considering a career in comedy. They give students a safe and supportive environment to practise their stand-up or writing and offer valuable encouragement and feedback.
“But students will also need to work hard outside the course, whether it’s making short videos and films in their spare time or trying material out at an open mic night at one of the small comedy clubs around Manchester.”
He also admitted he would have loved the prospects today’s Salford students can take advantage of through the University’s campus at MediaCityUK. “The facilities are great and I really believe being surrounded by creative people and businesses makes you more creative. And students don’t need to find a way into the centre of the media industry – they’re already there.”
The University’s Comedy Practices course leader, Lisa Moore, commented: “Jason has given a talk to our students before and it’s been an absolute joy to have him back. He didn't just share his knowledge and expertise but he also really inspired the students and was very honest about the business of comedy.
“Support from former Salford students like Jason – and Peter Kay, who gave a masterclass late last year – is fantastic.”
Salford lecturers have lined up a number of other famous local comedy performers and writers to give talks to students in 2013.