Did you hear the one about the comedian coming back to the North East to tell fans he hasn’t quit stand-up for opera?
Stop me if you’ve heard it, but Jason Manford has just been lined up to open this year’s Jesterval event.
The event will be held in and around Baltic Square on Gateshead Quays for eight days in June with many top names attending.
Jason – fresh from a duet with opera singer Alfie Boe in Sweeney Todd – has told organisers he is looking forward to feeling the warmth and generosity of the Geordie crowd.
He said: “Some of you might think I’ve had a career change what with all the opera and musical theatre I’ve been doing lately. Not a chance, I’m excited to be getting back to what I really love the most – stand up!
“I’m really looking forward to performing at the Jesterval for the first time. Newcastle is a great city for comedy and I’ve always enjoyed my time in the North East.”
Four years ago the performer was smuggled into Newcastle City Hall for his show with a blanket over his head to avoid a media frenzy only days after he quit BBC’s The One Show over allegations of internet sex chat with fans.
He asked the audience if they had a good day, joking: “I’m glad someone has” as it had been a “tough day in the Manford household.”
Jesterval organiser Della Haq said Jason’s involvement was a sign of a good punch line for the popular event.
She said: “We think it is really admirable of Jason to take time out of his busy schedule and do us the honour of opening this year’s comedy festival. It will undoubtedly help raise the profile of the event to an even greater height.
“We’re close to confirming yet more exciting shows but we’re still in the process of finalising them. The aim is to try and build on the success of last year’s occasion and make it bigger, better and even more successful than previous years.
Tony Law, Marcus Brigstocke, Simon Munnery, Terry Alderton, Imran Yusuf, have already signed up for the event which features big stars alongside up and coming local talent.
Local comedian Gavin Webster and Hebburn creator and writer Jason Cook will also appear.
Jesterval runs from June 6 to 14, with prices from as little as £5.