A quick chat with Jason Manford

Thirteen years after making his comedy debut, Jason Manford is now on the search for some fresh comedy talent to follow in his footsteps as host of Show Me the Funny (Monday, July 18), a new ITV1 talent show in which wannabe comedians compete for the chance to headline a nationwide tour and release their own comedy DVD.

TV&Satellite Week magazine with caught up with Mr Manford to find out more…

Ten comedians compete on the show each week… On the judges’ panel are QI’s Alan Davies, Edinburgh Fringe judge Kate Copstick plus one guest comedy legend from a line-up that includes Jo Brand, Johnny Vegas, Bob Mortimer and Ross Noble.

The contestants perform to some tough crowds… There’s a hen night in Liverpool, soldiers in Catterick, rugby players in Wales and, probably hardest of all, hyperactive school children in Birmingham. But I’m not asking the contestants to do anything I wouldn’t do, and I open each show myself.

I got my first break in comedy by accident… I was working in a club collecting glasses, and the comedian who had been booked to perform didn’t turn up. I said I’d do it and I’ve never looked back.

I was mugged before one comedy gig… My mugger said, if I gave him my phone and money, he wouldn’t hurt me, but he beat me up anyway. I was more angry about being lied to than I was about being robbed. I went up on stage, battered and bruised, and talked about what had happened.

Because I do a lot of touring I don’t watch much TV… I’ve not seen a lot of the other talent shows, but I have watched The Apprentice. Show Me the Funny is going to be like The Apprentice for stand-ups, which I suppose makes me the Alan Sugar of comedy.

The first comedian I ever saw live was Billy Connolly… My dad took me when I was eight. It was seeing Billy that night that made me want to be a stand-up comic.