John Bishop: Peddling Stories
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2004
Once John Bishop went mad. He got on a bicycle, went to Australia and rode home. Now an award-winning comedian he follows his Edinburgh debut with stories of what life in the saddle does to a man.
John is an affable, if slightly dazed, man whose show is supposedly about a bicycle ride from Australia to the UK in the early Nineties. But you couldn't really call it a show. He's a very nice man, but I haven't the faintest idea why he paid good money to come to Edinburgh as he has no idea how to structure a talk, let alone a show.
"The reason this show has never worked so far," he tells the audience at the start, "Is that I can't say it all in an hour."
This might be because Peddling Stories is the Tristram Shandy of Fringe shows: it never really starts.
The first 15 minutes were amiable waffle, with John asking the audience about themselves. It takes another five minutes before we reach the part where he buys the bike. Then we have stories of crocodiles repelling the Japanese in the Second World War and questions how many audience members had kids.
This is not a performed show. It's a shambles, like listening to a loquacious bloke in a pub. But everyone left happy. It was one of those serendipity events that make the Fringe a joy provided you don't mind forking out a hefty £11 to have some stranger ask you questions in a shipping container.
For cuddly amiability, it scores three stars. As a show it scores one, bet elevated by the story about a cockerel trying to mate with a duck in Nepal and a Vietnam vet losing his glass eye in a toilet in, I think, Thailand. Or maybe it wasn't. Like the show itself, it doesn't really matter.