Top comedian Jason Manford was at the University of Salford yesterday (Monday 29 April) to coach performance students and Britain’s Got Talent star Jack Carroll in the art of stand-up routines.
Having graduated from Salford with a BA in Media and Performance in 2004, Jason is keen to share his knowledge and advice with current students considering a career in comedy. He gave a masterclass to students in January and came back to the University’s MediaCityUK campus to check on their progress.
Jason brought along budding 14-year-old comedian Jack Carroll, who recently appeared on Britain’s Got Talent. Jack’s self-deprecating comedy style pokes fun at his disability (he has cerebral palsy) and the show’s panel were so impressed that all four judges sent him through to the next round.
When asked what drew him to Jack, Jason explained that he started performing young too, when he was just 16 years old. “But it’s not enough to be just young,” he said. “You’ve got to be funny too. Jack is really funny - he’s an old bloke in a young boy’s body, moaning about the world.”
Jason also said that he has met other disabled people have been encouraged by Jack’s performance on the show. “Hopefully Jack can be an inspirational kid. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got a disability, if you want to be a comedian you can still do it.”
During the workshop students were given advice on how to improve and tighten their routines, and encouraged to travel to gigs around the country to build-up up confidence and experience. They were also advised not to get too drawn into the social side of the comedy circuit and to put in as many hours as a full-time job.
When asked how being a comedian has changed him, Jason said: “I’m always listening to people. I read more than I would’ve done and watch TV shows that I might not have watched.”
“If you think you can be a comedian and you don’t do it, you’ll regret it later,” he added. “Better to ‘die’ on stage for a couple of years than that.”
Course leader, Lisa Moore, commented: “Jason's input on the comedy practices course has been invaluable for the student experience. They have received immediate, constructive feedback from Jason after performing their material - he was both inspirational and encouraging and you can't really put a price on that.”
Other comedians who have recently held masterclasses at the University are Peter Kay and John Thomson.
Jason is due to start a UK tour with his new stand-up show First World Problems on 15 May.