“I DON’T think I’m a legend. I think if you consider yourself a legend you definitely aren’t one.”
These are the humble words of northern comic Jason Manford as he prepares for a one-night-only appearance at the Frontier next week in aid of Childline.
Giving an exclusive interview with the Reporter Series, Manford, a patron of many children’s charities, said it was the Bradford Road venue that attracted him to the gig as much as its worthy cause.
“I do so many big theatres and arenas performing to 12,000 people, so it’ll be nice seeing the white of people’s eyes,” he said.
But with excitement comes intimidation, as Manford said smaller venues, such as the Frontier, Leeds City Varieties and the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, were well known for their high calibre of past performers.
“As you’re going from the dressing room to the stage there are all these posters up of people who have been there before, like Tommy Cooper and the Jackson Five, I think, in Blackpool,” he said.
“When you get to the stage you think, ‘What am I doing here? These people are all legends and here’s me.’”
The lucky Frontier audience is likely to be treated to snippets of the comedian’s current tour as well as a “bit of a chat”, though Manford admits he hasn’t yet decided on his act.
“I’m not that sort of act that sits down and makes sure they know exactly what they’re going to do. I’ll probably just have a chat and see how it goes,” he said.
“A lot of the time male stand ups are just happy to get a word in! I don’t get a chance at home, I’ve got a wife and three daughters.”
If he’s stuck for ideas the 30-year-old said he often turned to current events.
“I like local newspapers, I like the fact there’s always someone pointing at something they’re unhappy with,” he said.
“I remember once when I read about a woman who said she had seen a UFO. She’d said she was looking out of the window and saw a ‘Dorito-shaped object’ in the sky.
“I just thought, ‘Who comes to the word Dorito before the word triangle?’”
The big-hearted funnyman said charity was important to him, and he tried to get a few charity gigs in every month, but with requests coming in thick and fast, many had to be turned down.
The dad-of-three said Childline was an important cause for everyone, not just parents.
“You don’t have to have kids to want to protect children and keep them safe,” he said. “I’ve had a great start in life, my parents didn’t have any money but they loved us and did their best which at a minimum is what everyone deserves, but not everyone gets.”
Manford takes to the Frontier stage as the headline act on Wednesday. Other performers include Donna Moody, aka Miss Understood, Thomas Anthony, New Vinyl and the Wakefield Wildcat Dolls as well as the winner of Leeds Loves Talent.
With so many acts, Manford said the night would be like an episode of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. “If I see someone with a dancing dog I’ll step back and let them be the headline act,” he quipped.
Tickets for the charity night, over 18s only, are £15, available from firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0113 2766 342.
l Jason Manford’s Off on Tour We Go dates include Sheffield Arena on October 19, the Spa in Bridlington on October 22 and the MEN Arena in Manchester on November 16. For more dates and booking details visit www.jasonmanford.com.