John Bishop saunters onto a minimalist stage at Cork Opera House. It’s just him, the mic, a spotlight. It seems his fabulous hair and impressive set of gnashers are the only things he needs to put on a show.
None of your fancy set designs or backing bands or powerpoint presentations other comedians use. Just Bishop and his adoring congregation.
Because the crowd do seem slightly besotted with the Scouse stand up, laughing at every punchline, even when, dare I say it, it wasn’t particularly funny.
There’s no denying being on stage is where the ex-pharmaceutical salesman was born to be; he is a natural storyteller and that accent alone could crack up a room.
Despite forays into presenting chat shows, raising millions for charity, playing semi-pro footie, acting in ITV dramas, and shooting nature documentaries, one does feel that in front of a live audience is his natural habitat.
This tour is called ‘Winging It’, even though, he clearly isn’t. This is slick, smooth, but feels slightly stale. He’s mining the same old reliable themes.
Bishop’s appeal is the down to earth, everyman character that we can all identify with, but for all the musing on universal themes, like fatherhood and facing mortality, it’s hard to empathise when most of his stories are peppered with the trappings of stardom that he now undeniably has.
Moaning about family life, while talking about pet llamas in his giant gated home, riffing about a lads’ weekend away, where he gets to meet Bono and sharing conversations with his dad, while taking the call in Buckingham Palace, just aren’t things the rest of us can associate with.
Don’t get me wrong, he is a charming and witty host for the evening, the bits about Cork airport displaying pictures of red-haired people instead of local beauty spots, the observations about hurling and the players, his turning 50 gags, are all fun... but there are no belly laughs for me.
Time, perhaps for a new type of sermon?