tue 03/10/2023

John Bishop, Touring | reviews, news & interviews

John Bishop, Touring

John Bishop, Touring

Short on jokes but long on charm

John Bishop parlays his smiley Everyman comedy with conviction

It's a conundrum for some in the industry how John Bishop, so beloved of the BBC, which has given him several vehicles to parlay his Liverpool-lad-made-good comedy, can still, as a multimillionaire, perform his smiley Everyman persona with such conviction and be met with such affection - as indeed he was at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham where I saw his Supersonic arena tour.

It cannot be a case of, as an old show business saw (attributed to many) has it, “Sincerity; if you can fake that, you've got it made”, because, although he made a very good fist of it in Skins and Route Irish, Bishop isn't that accomplished an actor. Besides, audiences can spot false bonhomie a mile off. No, I think bags of natural charm, a large degree of self-knowingness and a huge dollop of cheek keep him in the mainstream.

He's not a great gagsmith, but occasionally turns a nice phrase

Take Bishop's extended anecdote about flying first-class to Australia for his most recent series on the BBC. That's teetering on the edge of alienating most of your audience, but Bishop is quick to make clear it was an upgrade - “One of the nicer perks of fame,” he says with a knowing wink - and the series recreated a charity bike ride he had done 22 years before, long before he became famous. He just about pulls it off.

The evening started with a spoof video about the football-obsessed Bishop missing penalties at various charity matches, with contributions from Match of the Day, Loose Women and The One Show presenters, plus Samuel L Jackson as God. It's terrifically well done - funny, with nicely judged irony and piss-taking. He tells us there won't be many actual jokes this evening - he doesn't lie – but it's stories about what Bishop's past year has been like, including that Australian trip.

He also talks about how online dating has taken away from the art of chatting up girls, how porn has changed from his day, and about his home life with three sons and his long-suffering wife. Their marriage appears to be caught in some 1970s sitcom time warp, where they bicker all the time, she's obsessed with shopping and the Bishop males appear not to know how to clean up after themselves.

Bishop makes some slyly funny references to Marcus Brigstocke and Cliff Richard, and manages to do a riff on wanking that's more cheeky than offensive. He's not a great gagsmith, but occasionally turns a nice phrase that hints at a comic with more to give than we actually ever see on stage. Talking about growing old, he says: "You reach an age when you have more skin than you need.”

The minutiae of Bishop's life hold no great interest for me, yet by sheer force of personality he makes this evening work. It's an entertaining ramble - padded out by two lengthy but amiable pieces of audience interaction - short on jokes but long on charm.

  • John Bishop is touring until 20 December


He talks about how online dating has taken away from the art of chatting up girls


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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I've always found John Bishop a charming and affable personality with a gift for inoffensive lightweight comedy. A breath of fresh air, that! But he really blew me away with his dramatic acting skills in Accused (a programme known for effectively casting people against type). My admiration for him skyrocketed after that. Wish he'd do more drama, or indeed "dramady". He's built for it.

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