Q&A: Jason Manford – “Piers Morgan is an oxymoron”

The Show Me the Funny host on what he loves and loathes on TV

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What makes you squirm?

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Larry David’s social faux pas in Curb Your Enthusiasm. I have to watch through my fingers. The other day my wife asked who I was talking to because I was yelping at Larry to stop – hilarious but excruciating.

Do you prefer US comedy to British?

The Americans are on the ball at the moment. I can’t think of the last British sitcom
I laughed at. It could have been as long ago as The Office.

Which stand-up would you take out to dinner?

Michael McIntyre. He’s one of the few comics I know who is never ever off. Michael could find something funny to say about a fork – and he will. I’m glad I can turn it off and be normal.

Would you ever be a judge on a reality show, like McIntyre?

I’d be out of my comfort zone. The producers of Show Me the Funny: Stand-up Showdown [the ITV talent show that he hosts] originally suggested I be one of the judges, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell someone they’re rubbish. I’d be the opposite of Simon Cowell. I don’t know how he sleeps at night.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Take Me Out. The first time I sat there reading a book and grumbling about what a load of tripe it was. Half an hour later, I found myself saying to my wife: “Pause it a minute, love, I’m going to the loo.”

Who was the last person you changed channels to avoid?

Piers Morgan. The guy is an oxymoron – and heavy on the “moron”.

Who’s surprised you?

I met Bette Midler at the Royal Variety Show and she was a nightmare. I politely asked her for a photo for my mum, who’s a massive fan, and she went mental. Her security team moved me along.

Perhaps they don’t show Live at the Apollo in LA…

It shouldn’t have mattered that she didn’t know who I was. No matter who comes up to me, or when, I’m lovely to everybody. At the end of the day, that person might have bought the DVD and that’s the reason I live in a nice house. One day I might be praying for someone to recognise me because I’ve not had any work for a decade.

Do you still watch The One Show?

It never went on when I presented it because I have three little girls under two and it clashes with In the Night Garden. I’m still pals with everybody there, though, and chat to Alex Jones from time to time.

Did you resent having to step down?

We’ve got to learn to draw a line where a person’s private life ends and their professional life begins [he quit after four months, following newspaper stories that he had been flirting online], but I couldn’t have carried on with The One Show, where you’re discussing topical issues like super-injunctions. How awkward would that be?

Did you ever consider taking out an injunction?

I said to my wife, “Shall we get a super-injunction?” She said she’d rather have an extension on the kitchen.

Who would play you in a film of your life?

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Someone who looks like me, like Brad Pitt.