That he has arrived now and thrust himself casually and cheekily into the heart of the nation is testament to his easy-going manner, observational humour and the glint in his eye that, even on stage in front of hundreds of people, he can’t quiet believe that he’s achieved the success he has. The roots of his comedy can be traced back to the working mens clubs but his stage persona and the self deprecating tone of his comedy make it easy for audiences to laugh along, rather than at, the targets of his jokes (which usually is him).
Given the ubiquitous nature of the man on our screens it’s sensible that these new Blu-rays showcase Bishop at his most creative and where he is at his best – on stage.
The Collection is composed of recordings of two of Bishop’s stand-ups shows, this year’s Sunshine tour and 2010’s Elvis has Left the Building event, and if you’ve not seen the man in action then this is the right arena and these two Blu-rays are sure to go down well with fans. Despite some criticism for being considered a ‘safe’ comic rather than Frankie Boyle’s acerbic rants (though I think most comedians are safer than Boyle) there’s a nice flow to Bishop’s comedy and the Sunshine Blu-ray is the superior disc here, recorded on the final night in his home town of Liverpool, and there’s an inclusive nature to his comedy which builds well over the course of the evening.
The Elvis has left the Building set is more familiar with tales of football and families while the Sunshine tour has Bishop on more vitriolic form, using the crazy year of the 2010 tour as the basis for many of the jokes early on. In case you wanted to stick this on after Christmas lunch for the family there’s a fair amount of swearing but nothing which oversteps, or even approaches, the confines of bad taste. My own taste in stand up comedy is closer to that of Bill Hicks and George Carlin (and the dizzy heights of Woody Allen’s work in the 60s) and the aforementioned ubiquity of John Bishop on the TV does mean you may have heard some of the material before but if you’re a fan then you this is the perfect Christmas present for his fans.
Both discs come with a few decent additions with the man himself offering up video diaries of his tours, appalling hotel wallpaper and the genera ennui of a sub-glamourous lifestyle, as well as short behind the scenes moments from the shows themselves. The Elvis disc has Bishop at an Elvis convention and Sunshine has the fake adverts used in between acts on the tour. If you’re a fan then you’ll love this and it points to Bishop positioning himself as an all-round presenter rather than a comedian, a role we’re sure to see him move into over the next year or so.
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