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Review: John Bishop, Capital FM Arena

May 6 2011

LIVERPOOL has a history of producing comedians with prominent top drawer gnashers, from Ken Dodd and Jimmy Tarbuck to the latest, John Bishop, who was at the Capital FM Arena over the weekend for the final two out of three shows at the venue on his Sunshine Tour.
Quite an achievement for the former medical sales director who only turned professional four years ago.
His comedy is a mix of observational and autobiographical, largely based on the frustrations of being middle-aged, the father of three teenage sons who think he’s a “kn*b” and married for 18 years.
“When you’re in your forties you can’t say to women the things you used to when you were in your twenties for fear of being branded a pervert,” he says, to guffaws of recognition.
To the teenagers he asks: “Did you realise that the fashion of wearing your jeans hanging down your backside shows a lot of faith on your mum’s skills with a washing machine?”
And recalling his first photograph in a tabloid newspaper last February, where he’s mistaken for Bez of the Happy Mondays, he turns on his missus: “Bez has done some of the best drugs in the world for two decades, I’ve been married for 18 years and the effects appear to be exactly the same.”
The photo was his first taste of celebrity, joining James Corden and Freddie Flintoff to a Robbie Williams Brits aftershow party, so soon after going full-time. Since then he’s been on all the usual comedy and panel shows, appeared in a Ken Loach movie, been a member of Take That for Comic Relief and beat Tom Cruise on Top Gear. He’s also  popular enough to sell 5000 £25 tickets in Nottingham. Three times.
This was the extension of his tour and the first show since he’d taken a break for a family holiday in Dubai. That offered some new material since his last visit in February but it was largely the same show, one that had been produced to suit large crowds, with an opening cartoon John Bishop on the video screens and mocked up TV ads for Admiral car insurance and Bazuka verruca cream (auditions he’d failed).
For the finale, nodding to a routine about teaching his sons how cool John Travolta was in Saturday Night Fever, he appeared in a flared white suit, with dancers and revolving disco balls, the light glinting off those huge white teeth.
The only criticism is that he refrains from bantering with the audience, which can turn a comedy show from good to great.

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