Bernard John Manning (13 August 1930 18 June 2007) was a British stand-up comic, nightclub impresario and TV performer who was most active in The '70s. Until tastes and attitudes changed in The '80s, he was hardly ever off TV, usually on stand-up comedy and variety shows produced by ITV's northern region, Granada TV. Bernard was never troubled by issues of political correctness or good taste, and this brought about the diminishing of his TV work in The '80s and his complete dissappearance from the small screen in The '90s. While he could still pack out venues, and fans travelled from all over the country to see him at his own Embassy Club in Manchester, if he was mentioned at all on televison in his later years, it was as a dinosaur from a previous age, and as an awful warning as to how racist, sexist and everything-ist old-school British comedy actually was. Manning never married, remaining devoted to his old mum and still living in the same house with her that they'd occupied all their lives.
Three tropes went into a pub.
- Bait-and-Switch: Satirical sketch-show Not the Nine O'Clock News ran a spoof news article, read by Mel Smith, that ran:We regret to announce that the comedian Bernard Manning, who was told by his doctor to lose five stone note or die, has today lost five stone.
- Cigar Chomper: He often smoked cigars or cigarettes onstage as a way of timing a gag.
- Everyone Has Standards:
- He felt that the word "wog" was "a horrible, insulting word I've never used in my life".
- He considered tampons and disabled people unacceptable subjects. He also never made fun of handicapped children, stating, "They can't help it - they're kids".
- In 2003, he was initially reported to have been booked to play a BNP rally. He denied this, telling the Daily Mirror: "It's a lot of bollocks. I don't know where I'm working. Speak to my agent. I don't know about any BNP nonsense. I would not do it anyway. Do you think I'm fucking barmy?"
- Family Man: He said he was a great believer in family values who never swore in front of his mother, stating:I dragged myself up by my bootlaces. I don't drink or smoke, I don't take drugs. I have never been a womaniser. I was brought up right with good parents and I have never been in trouble or harmed no-one. And I love my family.
- Guilty Pleasures: A surprising number of the alternative comedians who pilloried Manning in public as a relic of a previous age will tell you they secretely liked his comedy. Not because of the content or the nature of the jokes - but because they recognised he was a master of the art of stand-up comedy, had an impeccable sense of timing, and knew how to work a room. There is a recognition that to watch a Manning set was to watch a masterclass in comedy; the pity to many is that it was used to deliver such crass, tawdry and indefensible material.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: One story about him is that he pulled over to help a fellow comic whose car had broken down. Before leaving, he said, "Don't tell anyone about this, I've got a reputation to uphold".
- Mistaken for Racist: An argument still echoing today. Manning's critics point to the appalling nature of his jokes as proof. Defenders point out that offstage, he was never knowingly racist to coloured or Asian people and treated them with the same courtesy and respect he gave to everybody. Debate continues.
- Oop North: His comedy was drawn from Northern England, specifically the Manchester area.
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: Manning considered himself a victim of this as TV work dried up, but like many stand-up comics of his generation such as Jim Davidson, was adamant he was never going to change to suit what he considered a passing fad.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: His fans and supporters, people who had no truck with the new wave in British comedy which they considered trendy, gutless and too politically left-liberal; Manning was seen as heroic and leading a fight-back against the politically correct new wave that had taken over TV.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: He was this to his detractors who pointed to the (often genuinely) appalling casual racism of his material.
- Self-Deprecation: Manning wasn't afraid to poke fun at himself:I'm glad I'm not bisexual. I couldn't stand being rejected by men as well as women.
- Some of My Best Friends Are X: He lived next door to an Indian physician's family, who have appeared in many newspaper articles over the years to defend Manning as a "perfect gentleman".