Bernard Manning – The Case For The Defense by Andy Ware

Somewhere in Cumbria, the middle of June 2007 at around midnight I was knee deep in mud making my way back to a camp site from a dry wall pub. Feeling my phone vibrate in my pocket I fished it out to find a text message informing me that Bernard Manning had died. A Guardian reading, Labour voting, vegetarian (as I was at the time) should have been elated with the news. Not me. I was filled with a profound sadness and I spent the rest of the journey back to my tent reciting my favourite Manning gags to my companion. I mourned the passing of Bernard Manning because Bernard Manning was a genius.


Those that were critical of Bernard were so on the grounds that he was both a misogynist and a racist. Bernard often attempted to refute those claims with the argument that a joke is a joke and should only be taken in that context. I’m not comfortable with this argument as a defence and therefore my case for Bernard’s defence will not try not to negate claims that Bernard was either a misogynist or a racist. In fact I shall labour under the assumption that he was both. My defence for Bernard as a performer relies on us. Those that watched Bernard and either laughed out loud or sniggered secretly behind hands and closed doors. My defence also relies on the art of comedy and what it is to be a truly great comedian.

So the first part of my argument really comes down to an examination of laughter which is what comedy is all about, unless of course I have hugely misinterpreted the art form. As comedy reaches a new golden age there are countless comedians to be seen in the stadiums and arenas across the country and we now have stand-up comedy on the television once again. It was said of Newman and Badiel in the early 1990’s that comedy was the new rock and roll. Those words have never been truer. Michael McIntyre and Lee Evans can fill the 02 Arena on demand and stand-up comedy has never seemed more glamorous that it does at present. The consumer of comedy has never had so much choice. But this notion of choosing comedy is peculiar notion. I believe that the contrary is true. Far from choosing the comedy that we are into comedy chooses us. You see laughter is kneejerk and we are unable to be selective about what makes us laugh. I realised this sometime in the mid 1990’s when I saw a ropey old VHS of Bernard Manning playing his own Embassy Club in Manchester. I didn’t ashamedly snigger behind my hands but I roared with laughter. As I grew a little older I attempted to distance myself from Bernard and more importantly from Bernard’s typical audience. I was ashamed to mention Bernard to any of my trendier, lefty friends who were in to Eddie Izzard at the time. When somebody recites and Eddie Izzard routine you can’t follow that with “Have you heard the one about queer Irishman and the crate of Guinness?”  As I grew older still (early twenties now) I began to realise that neither I nor anyone else should be apologetic about what ‘tickles’ them as laughter is involuntary. In light of this I began to celebrate Bernard and his work and I began to defend him to my friends on the grounds that he was a genius.

I think the best and most poignant public defence of Bernard Manning was put forward by The Fall’s Mark E. Smith in a TV interview in 1993. When taken to task by broadcaster and journalist Caitlin Moran on Channel 4’s Naked City (a shamefully under rated magazine show) about his admiration for Manning Smith replied “Why doesn’t Ben Elton tell any racist jokes?” Moran shakes her head. “Because he doesn’t fucking know any” replies Smith. Although a little crude Smith’s argument was pin point in its accuracy. You see comedy is an art form and the protagonists are artists and there was none greater than Bernard Manning. Manning possessed a razor sharp wit and natural ability to tell a joke that very few comedians have matched. He had the natural rhythm and understanding of that over used comedic notion “timing”. Although their material is very similar Bernard Manning and the likes of, say, Roy Chubby Brown are worlds apart. This is because the likes of Roy Chubby Brown, Jim Davidson and Mike Reid were not blessed with Bernard’s ability to deliver a joke.

It is impossible to talk about Bernard Manning without words such as ‘homophobe’, ‘misogynist’, ‘racist’ and ‘bigot’ being thrown around. But I don’t believe that Bernard Manning was ever truly offensive. This is because I believe that to be truly offensive in comedy is to be unfunny. Bad comedy is perhaps the last true taboo in comedy. So while I would gladly see the likes of Brown, Davidson, Evans, McIntyre, Flannigan, Carr (both) and Fielding hung to out to dry I would defend Bernard Manning with my last breath. Why? Because Bernard Manning was gifted and even if you don’t appreciate the nature of his comedy you must appreciate his ability to execute it. If you’re reading this and you are of the opinion that Manning was an indefensible bigot then I shall leave you with a closing gambit; fear breeds prejudice, which makes for great humour. I laughed at his imaginative unpleasantness, but I swear that it never made me think about anybody differently.

Xavier DwyerAndy Ware is 31 years-old and has a small dog called Oliver. He is a paid-up member of the Labour Party and used to play bass in semi-legendary Hull band Sal Paradise. In his spare time he makes his own wine and watches rugby league. He once claimed his favourite album was Electric Warrior by T.Rex, which was a complete lie. He holds a degree in Philosophy, but you’d already guessed that. You can find him at

Paul Featherstone is in The Sitting Room

You have to appreciate Dear Reader, this could go on for infinity. I hate everything.

People Who Can’t Tell The Difference Between Your And You’re, Where, Were and We’re etc-
There’s become this new trend, mainly started on the likes of Facebook and Twitter, that grammar and spelling don’t really count. If you pick people up for it, you’re the Grammar Police. Look, no-one is perfect. Even I wince at my pieces because I’ve been too lazy to thoroughly check them at times, but fuck me, don’t get something wrong you should have learned at 7 years old. Even Alan Sugar, the archetypal “village idiot done good” is on Twitter telling everyone to shut up because he can’t spell “that” or something. Then he has the gall to tell someone with a PHD on his show that they are a half-wit. Then people go on about foreigners taking our jobs. Jobs we can’t bothered to learn to spell or speak our own language for, when they have learned a foreign tongue. I’m sorry, I was taught at school, learn to spell to a decent standard or you’ll be thrown out of a job interview? Now it’s alright to be unapologetic in your breaking of the rules of the English language. This has replaced Punk as rebellion. Because John Lydon was a thicko, who accomplished nothing against the system with a mighty grasp of the power of the written and spoken word wasn’t he? It’s not alright, your children will grow up with a shit attitude to learning and the English language. Then someone who bothered will take their job, probably from the EU, and you will die knowing they failed in their ability to pay taxes that help you have anything that resembles a decent state pension. Well done. You make my fucking blood boil. It’s called an apostrophe. Just don’t use one if you have such a poor attitude to the function it performs.THERE IS WHERE SOMETHING IS! THEY’RE IS THEY ARE!! ITS EASIER THAN OPERATING THE COMPUTER YOU ARE TYPING IT INTO!!!
Shit, Popular, Mainstream Comedians
Write this on my gravestone- Not Once Did Michael McIntyre Make Him Laugh. That will be enough. My life will be just. Him. Miranda Hart. John Bishop. Just pointing out things that happen every day. That is not observational. It’s a ten year old laughing at his first hard-on. It is not witty. Telling stories about things that happened to you that were a bit embarrassing, to people who don’t know you, is not funny. Millions of people can do that, that’s why comedy is hard. People wonder why I get so mad? Maybe it’s because I’m paying their wages via the licence fee? Wages that make me want to throw a safety shoe through my TV screen then urinate on the memory of McIntyre’s figure on the expired screen. I know it’s very cool to hate the likes of McIntyre, he’s the kid EVERYONE filled in at school but Christ, he really is this generation’s Russ Abbott, why can’t anyone see this?! Maybe I’m just mad at the idea of someone on a Friday night at 9pm, drinking a half bottle of wine, eating ethically sourced nuts, laughing their moronic heads off at him talking about funny things him and his missus encounter in their soulless, vapid, sexless marriage? I’ve got blood in my throat now.
A Lack Of Bins In The Street
Why are there no bins anymore? I guarantee that you have had to walk for at least the length of a full main road with a Coke can in your hand, under the threat of a fine if you litter, as though there is a SS sniper waiting on a rooftop because you have no papers. It’s madness. It may be the biggest ever First World Problem but I don’t care. I could understand it during the spectre of an IRA bomb being put in one, but is their hollow victory that we are consigned to a life of Walkers crisp packets floating around like a depressing, kitchen sink drama version of that scene in American Beauty? If there aren’t any bins it just encourages the idiots of society to just throw things on the floor. It’s their get out clause. They are the sane ones, not walking for 700 yards in minus five temperatures with their hands out of their pockets because they can’t dispose of a coffee cup. The hard work of that coffee cup is being wasted from the very extremity that delivered it. I think I’ve shaved six weeks from my lifespan by wandering the streets getting angry about this.
Those “1 Like” Things On Facebook
I know Facebook has been covered at length on this site, but the thought of this is genuinely making me want to snap my laptop in half, I cannot let it pass. Who in heavenly fuck came up with this cultural phenomenon? I would like to hunt them down and pull their toe nails out. Honestly, if I don’t like this photo I’m a paedophile or something?! Like this photo for the war dead Paul, it’s far more useful than the £10 a month you donate from your paycheck to the Royal British Legion. I can’t wait for the day someone is at the pearly gates and they get asked why they never prayed for the souls of the world, only to reply “Oh no, I hit “like” on Facebook and 1 Like = 1 Prayer”. Aren’t religious people supposed to follow the example of Jesus or something? Did he just sit on his fat arse hitting like on matters of global concern? It’s like going on my computer and being aggressively picketed by those weird Christians in suits you see in City Centre’s, except they’ve had a full frontal lobotomy. This is what society in general has become, encapsulated in one simple click of a computer.
I don’t even know where to start with this. The poor music, that people appear to have been suckered into believing is some of the greatest ever written? She doesn’t even write half of it! She wrote the Skyfall lyrics in the back of a taxi on her way round to the studio, whilst some other poor sap has recorded the music, which, by the way is mainly just the Bond theme tune. It shows she did this. Give her an Oscar! Fuck Live And Let Die, ignore that!!! The My Fair Lady act that reinforces the idea in America that we are all Cockney chimney sweeps who eat jellied eels? She went to the Brit’s School, I don’t know how you get in there but I’m going out on the limb it’s not via Watford job centre? “Oh, she’s just like us, that’s how I’d be!” No you wouldn’t, in fact, if you saw her down the pub behaving that way you’d avoid her, and by the 8th pint ask for her to be kicked out. Fame hasn’t changed her you know, that’s why she lives in a massive £8 million mansion and has gone all weird about her baby and people knowing it’s name? Because Michael Jackson did that, and he was just your normal lad who loved going to watch Fulham so much, they built a statue of him at the ground. I don’t know how this happened, whether it was the talent vacuum that exists, that allowed someone who can sing a bit to become so huge, but don’t sell her to me as the saviour of British music. That Someone Like You is generic, break-up, heart-string pulling, ho-hum that even Coldplay would be ashamed to pump out. The very idea of James Corden introducing it at the Brits, as though it was Let It Be getting it’s first airing, makes me want to vomit and slam my head in a safe. Don’t accuse me of sexism either, she’s setting women back, writing songs begging for men to love them. At least Beyonce writes about being independent, even if it is on every single fucking song. Is it too late to emigrate?
Just missing the list- Cameron and Osbourne, People Who Moan About the NHS, James Fucking Corden, Footballers Who Pretend To Be Injured, The General Public.
Paul FeatherstonePaul Featherstone is 31 years old and lives in Hull. Most people call him “Fev.” He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of football and music and uses the word “c*nt” far too much in everyday conversation. He spends a lot of his time blagging his way into celebrity parties. He is to be commended for once meeting Jo Whiley and refraining from beating her to death with a big stick. You can read more of his vitirolic comments on