Comedian Jason Manford produced a silky-smooth performance in the Clickimin Leisure Centre last night (Sunday) as part of his UK-wide “Muddle Class” tour.
A former captain on TV panel show 8 Out of 10 Cats, the Mancunian comic was on stage for nearly two hours as he deftly marshalled a range of material which tickled funny bones with pinpoint accuracy.
The most full-bodied laughs came when the father of five spoke about his family and the conflict between his working-class upbringing and the middle-class lifestyle he and his children now enjoy.
Wedged among anecdotes conveying the relationship between himself and his tradesman brother was a successful example of audience participation, one where Manford playfully pitted occupations against each other.
By that point, Manford had already built up a strong rapport with the crowd, helped by his cheeky observations about the Shetland lifestyle and his clear joy in finding himself in an unfamiliar performance space – between two basketball nets in the “middle of nowhere”.
Originally, he said, a trip to Lerwick had not been in his tour plans, but when other comedians, including Jon Richardson, told him how much they had enjoyed performing in the Northern Isles, he quickly altered his schedule.
And while the Clickimin hall was not completely full, the promise of Manford’s presence was nevertheless enough to attract a very healthy showing – and the punters readily acquiesced in the comedian’s request that they suspend their worries for the time being and fully embrace the fun.
Rightly regarded as one of the leading lights in the British stand-up circuit, Manford was deeply impressive as he showcased his versatility.
His scripted routines – including very amusing recollections of a speed awareness course – were, of course, expertly crafted, but he also drew shrieks of laughter with off-the-cuff quips and timely asides which he peppered across the gig.
This was a highly entertaining visit from a talented showman who would no doubt be welcomed back with open arms.