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John Bishop: Sunshine

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

The comics playing the new 1,000-seater McEwan Hall have come in for plenty of stick for defying the spirit of the Fringe, accused of being commercial sell-outs with posters bigger than some comics’ venues.

Yet John Bishop, with trademark humility, makes you feel like he’s deserved it, with entertaining stories about how he paid his Fringe dues, recalling the days when he performed in a hut and still couldn’t fill it. This run, he says, is recovering all the thousands he’s lost in Edinburgh over the years. And, though he doesn’t say it, 1,000 seats is actually a small venue for him these days, so sudden and explosive has been his rise to fame.

It’s hard to pinpoint how it happened, and even he seems modestly amused by the whole situation. As someone whose shows are based simply on straightforward anecdotes from the preceding year, this offering could have been a boastful round of celebrity parties and glamorous TV appearances.

But the story about appearing on Live At The Apollo becomes a yarn about how his mischievously dodgy Scouse friends tries to scam freebies from the BBC. And you get the feeling that there’s more than a modicum of truth in his joking that in the green room for Friday Night with Jonathan Ross, he’s most impressed by the fact that he can have all the free crisps he can eat.

For despite his elevated fame, he’s lost none of his Liverpudian everyman charm, making you root for him since you suspect you’d act in exactly the same way in the circumstances. In fact, his newfound success has enhanced his stand-up, throwing his mundane home life and chancer mates into sharp contrast against the glamorous trappings of showbiz.

The show is an uncomplicated, feelgood one as Bishop strives to make the most of what he suspects will be his limited time in the sun, sharing his extraordinary experience with the audiences as if he was regaling his friends with yet another yarn that begins ‘You’ll never guess what happened to me…’. That lack of pretension is thoroughly endearing, shaping his comic outlook.

There may not be much in the way of well-crafted jokes here, but Bishop is excellent company with his self-mocking tales that are guaranteed to raise your spirits. Even the most curmudgeonly critic of these big-name shows can’t deny that.

Review date: 13 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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