Jason Manford speaks out against cancel culture

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 30: Jason Manford performs at Virgin Money Unity Arena on August 30, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Thomas M Jackson/Getty Images)
Jason Manford says people should be cautious about erasing the past. (Getty Images)

Jason Manford has warned that cancel culture is a “slippery slope” and says people should be cautious about erasing history.

The stand-up comedian and TV presenter said he never sets out to upset anyone, but he objects to people who enjoy comedy but take offence at gags they feel are aimed at them.

Manford, 39, told the PA news agency: “I don’t want to offend anybody. I would be genuinely mortified if anyone left one of my shows upset by something that I’d said.

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“I’d feel like that would be a breach of contract. My audience come for a certain sort of show and I like to put on that show.”

He went on: “If you’re going to see Jimmy Carr and you leave offended, then you’re the only idiot in that scenario. What do you think is going to happen?

NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE, ENGLAND - AUGUST 31: Jimmy Carr performs at Virgin Money Unity Arena on August 31, 2020 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. (Photo by Thomas M Jackson/Getty Images)
Jimmy Carr (Getty Images)

“I have a real umbrage about people who will laugh at everything until something offensive is said about them. You can’t have it both ways.

“If somebody is doing something offensive and saying a horrendous joke at 7 o’clock in the evening on the TV… then, that’s when Ofcom comes in and sorts those things out.

“But at the same time, going back through history and finding offensive things in the past, cancelling people from 30 years ago because of something they said or did – you can’t start doing that.

“We’re on a very slippery slope if we start to revise our history.”

In the wake of the global Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, several comedy shows have been removed from streaming platforms due to their use of blackface.

These include The League of Gentlemen, The Mighty Boosh, Little Britain and some episodes of 30 Rock.

Manford – whose Like Me UK tour has been postponed to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic – said that after “such an awful year”, the “one thing we need is laughter”.

Screengrab from Jason Manford Facebook
Jason Manford applied for a job as a delivery driver after cancelling his tour due to coronavirus. (Jason Manford/Facebook)

But he admitted that while the confusion around social distancing and lockdown rules lend themselves very well to comedy, making jokes about a virus that has killed almost 50,000 people in the UK alone, had its risks.

The former presenter of The One Show said: “We’ve probably had more shared experiences this year than throughout any time in history as a society.

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“The rules are so confusing, they lend themselves to comedy,

“What’s important and what sometimes people lose sight of is, having a laugh and taking the mickey out of the rules of lockdown or the flip-flopping of the government… is not the same as laughing at the fact people are dying of COVID.

“On social media, people can get mixed up and they can think that you’re being disrespectful to the people who’ve died…

“That’s the thing I’m hoping we get a little bit less sensitive about next year.”

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