Review: John Bishop: Elvis has left the building
Venue: York Opera House
The Grand Opera House was packed to bursting last night as comedian John Bishop took to the stage – even the “Jacuzzi cupboards” of the side boxes were full. Having risen sharply to fame thanks to a break on Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Roadshow and a popular show at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2009 Bishop is evidently now a popular act. In fact, an extra date has been added in York (May 3rd) should you have wanted to catch him. No-one can deny that his thick Scouse middle-class accent and sincere affection when talking of his three sons make Bishop a very likeable man. Nevertheless, his latest show provided a disappointingly few number of real laugh-out-loud moments.
As the title suggests, the show takes up an Elvis-inspired theme brought about as Bishop realised earlier in the year that he is now the same age as Elvis was when he died. His material centred around the highs and lows of being 42 and relating to his three “alien” teenage lads. And perhaps that is just it – perhaps the reason the show didn’t crack me up is because the thrust of the show was for a middle-aged audience. His, often long-winded, stories about how the “youth of today” cannot live without their mobile phones soon wore thin on me, but was clearly much funnier for the raucous 40-something mum sat behind me! His more laddish material, including the time he desperately needed his kids to pretend that it was they, and not him, who had been downloading internet porn, were hilarious but few. A younger audience used to his pacey short appearances on shows like the BBC series Live at the Apollo will be left wanting less of the waffle.
His “celebrity” stories, including presenting the Kitchen Utensil Awards 2009 (“There were 14 awards. How many kitchen utensils have you got – and how many deserve an award?”), his appearance on the series Skins and his most proud moment of playing at the Liverpool ground for a charity match could be seen as self-indulgent, yet even here his likeability carried him through. Bishop’s real strength lay is when ad-libbing and interacting with the audience. The pace with which he turned round a comment from a heckler shouting “Cock!” and other more feeble heckling attempts revealed his real brilliance. A group of attractive young girls and a statistics professor called Brian sat in the boxes either side provided amusing material to come back to time and time again, with the phase “What’s the odds on that Brian?!” become something of a catchphrase for the evening. Overall an enjoyable evening with a charming host, but perhaps more for those who, like Bishop, can remember the dial-up phone!