IT’S been quite a 12 months for comedian John Bishop.
He made his acting debuts on stage (One Night in Istanbul) and screen (as a teenage lesbian’s dad in Skins), was shortlisted for an award at Edinburgh, and then had his comedy profile well and truly raised by appearances on a rash of TV shows including Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow.
It’s that raising of profile, the culmination of several years’ hard graft by the former pharmaceuticals worker, which has led to this UK tour taking in big venues like the Empire, where he returns for a second outing next month, and even the ECHO arena.
The backing of comedians du jour is all very well, but you have to deliver the goods yourself too and Bishop, always an engaging performer, has smoothly upped his game along with his fanbase.
Elvis Has Left the Building is a reference to the fact the funnyman is now the same age as the King when he rock ‘n’ rolled for the final time. Well, until this morning anyway when Bishop turned 43.
That similarity in age sparks this controlled meander through the foothills of a mid-life crisis as the comedian expounds about his spare tyre, hair growing in places it shouldn’t, how to deal with three growing boys, the embarrassment of a rare trip to the gym and the problem of choosing what a man over 40 should wear.
Bishop first tried out his material during Liverpool comedy festival, and while his family-based observations aren’t ground-breaking they’re delivered with a winning level of good-natured incredulity and indignation, and the unspoken understanding that his audience (many in their 30s and 40s) will empathise with him.
You also get plenty of Bishop for your buck with the two-hour plus show really two routines for the price of one – the comedian spending the first half “having a little chat” about disparate ideas that come to him.
An imminent appearance on Celebrity Mastermind (specialist subject the Irish Potato Famine picked at random – “I’m not that keen on potatoes and I’m not that mad on the Irish”) sounds like irresistible car crash telly to come, while the second he realises – half way through a demonstration of the Bishop version of foreplay – that his mum is in the audience is likely to be a one off comedy moment.
Both parts are satisfyingly knitted together with video footage of Bishop’s (realised) dream….to turn out in midfield at Anfield.
9/10: from Bishop to the King