John Bishop: Freefall

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

I bet John Bishop is great at parties. He's the sort of bloke who can engage total strangers in friendly, ice-breaking small talk without ever venturing beyond shallow pleasantries.

But that's not much of a skill for an hour-long Edinburgh show.

"Did you see the football?" he asks. "What do you for a living?", "Seen any good shows?"

What? Seen any good shows? Anyone in Edinburgh hears and asks that questions dozens of times every day. Why pay £10.50 for the privilege of overhearing the same conversation between two strangers?

There's no denying he's a genuine, personable bloke, but there's just no substance behind it. His lines of questioning never lead to comedy gold; in fact they rarely even lead to comedy iron pyrites.

A couple of segments could possibly be identified as routines, very often involving him sitting on the toilet. He moans about the flyerers on the Royal Mile, and suggests a cunning, witty solution to avoid them: a headbutt. Still, he draws blood when the recreates the action with the microphone, so you cannot deny his dedication to his work.

Amid all this inconsequential nonsense, he casually drops in the line "I once rode a bike from Australia back to Liverpool" and leaves it at that. Now that's an Edinburgh show.

Elsewhere, there is evidence he may have something to say beneath the surface banter. When he talks honestly about his struggles after suddenly finding himself single again at 35 - and now a dad - the potential is obvious, if mostly unrealised.

The audience do warm to his friendly chit-chat, but in reality, he's a compere without a show.

Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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