Comedian Jason Manford is back on the road, touring his new show Like Me across Galway, Cork and Dublin this June.

The Manchester man famously got his start in comedy at the young age of 17 while working in a pub. When the night's act failed to show up, the promoter offered Jason the 5-minute spot and the rest, as they say, is history.

These days, the 40-year-old has a weekly radio show, a long list of acting gigs on both stage and screen, and an autobiography to his name. In the end, though, stand-up will always be his first love.

"Out of all of them, stand up is the one. That's the one I missed the most out of everything. Being in a room full of people who want to be there and are having a lovely time."

"Also, when it's over at 10 pm, it's done. You're not waiting for it to come out on telly, and waiting for reviews, and waiting to see what Twitter thinks."

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Manford will bring the tour across the UK and Ireland over the coming months, but insists that gigging in the Irish countryside is always that little bit extra special.

"This is the first major tour back since I toured a show called Muddle Class a few years ago. I'm looking forward to it. It's so easy to go to Ireland and just play Dublin, but I've got family all over the place. My uncle, who is driving me on this tour, can't wait to get over there. We're going to take our time and spend a bit of time in the countryside."

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"I love getting out there and going to places. Audiences act a certain way when you go out to see them. You go to Galway and Cork and they're really happy that you came, people will come up to you during the day and shake your hand - this doesn't happen in the UK, this is very Irish."

"It's lovely, actually. It's really nice to experience. The UK has a north and south divide where northerners are thought of as friendly and southerners are not as friendly. I always thought the north-west of England is friendly until I get to Ireland. I feel like I could move into someone's house for a couple of months before anyone would mention it."

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Working on two levels, the name of the tour, Like Me, is as much about the comic wanting audiences to warm to him as it is about him finding common ground.

"You're like me, we're the same," he muses. "If there's one thing that the last couple of years has show us, when it hits the fan, we are all the same. We all chip in and get stuck in - that's the bit of retrospect of the madness of the pandemic and the lockdowns. There were some heartwarming moments where humans came together."

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Listen: Jason Manford talks to Jennifer Zamparelli on RTÉ 2FM

When the pandemic hit and the entertainment industry fell to his knees, Manford decided it was time to give back. As well as returning to his shelf stacking days by helping out with Iceland, he offered to volunteer his time to those in need by driving the elderly and vulnerable to necessary appointments.

"I'm a naturally nosy person," he says. "You end up chatting to these people and sometimes if I was picking someone up at 4pm, I was the only person they had spoken to that day. It was quite heartbreaking."

"It was eye-opening and very humbling," he continues. "It's definitely made me think more about people. You get people on TV shows and they're plugging an album or plugging a book, and I just think, you know what, I'd rather speak to Mavis."

"Like that brilliant Tommy Tiernan show that you guys have got. He's fantastic. And I think that everybody has a great story."

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With very few of his elderly passengers knowing who he was, the comedian says he got to sit back and enjoy getting to know a host of interesting characters.

Before I can feel to impressed by his altruistic nature, however, he explains one of the biggest motivators for getting out of the house:

"I do like to remind people that I have got six children at home, and they were all home schooled" he explains, laughing. "The very idea that I was volunteering to be some good samaritan is a fallacy. I was trying to get out of GCSE Geography!"

Jokes aside, the comic says that spending time with his family in lockdown was one of the true silver linings of the pandemic.

"To spend time with the children was a real gift, actually," he says. "That time with them is something I miss now. It was a bit of a lesson, a bit of a kick up the bottom, actually. Do you live to work or work to live? I started to look at a few things and thought, let's take some time out on a regular basis."

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Of course, raising six children isn't always easy, and Manford was quick to spot the difference when it came to arguing with his sons and daughters.

"I always say that arguing or talking with boys is like a game of tennis; it's very fair and the rules are very clear. It's very methodical. I knock the ball to you, you knock the ball to me. We do that until somebody wins."

"With the girls, it's like playing chess. They're already eight moves ahead and you've got three pieces missing. And they already know what they're getting out of it."

For more information on Jason Manford's Like Me tour, click here.