DVD Review: John Bishop Live: The Sunshine Tour

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Image Source: Amazon

Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 75 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 1
Studio: 2entertain
Released: November 14 2011

Back in 2009, I attended a number of events which had a connection to my beloved Liverpool Football Club, but which also allowed for some comic relief. And, in each instance, the man who provoked the most laughs was a relatively unknown local comedian named John Bishop. Now, as a huge Liverpool fan himself, this was his perfect target audience, and his jokes and actions were thought-out yet simple enough that onlookers of all ages couldn’t help but laugh.

Since then, of course, Bishop has rose in prominence to become one of the UK’s most well-known comedians, as well as a familiar face on prime-time British TV. Despite this, however, he remains loyal to his local Liverpool roots, often bringing football – and LFC in particular – into his live shows as a key element. This was true of his most recent show, on the Supersonic Tour, which I attended, and the same applied to one of his earliest productions, the Sunshine Tour which ran from late 2010 to summer 2011. It is this show which is the subject of the below review.

I attended a show on this tour in Liverpool as well, although it was one of his final performances on the tour in his home city which is the version we see on the DVD. Hopefully that wasn’t too complicated to explain; but I bring this up to share my views as both someone who attended at the time and as a viewer re-watching the show, as I recently did.

The best way to describe Bishop’s comedic stylings and delivery is “friendly”. By that, I mean that John speaks his mind to the audience as if he is speaking within a group of friends, informing those present of his escapades as if he was talking in the pub or over the phone. There’s no sense of “I’m the star and this is the show”; yes, it is a performance and some elements are definitely for show (which isn’t a bad thing, by the way), but like other Liverpudlian comedians such as Ricky Tomlinson, one gets the feeling that you could speak to Bishop without awe or restraint, that you can talk to him as if he was your mate, and Bishop speaks to the crowd in the same way, from using scouse slang and local landmarks to simply presenting himself as a regular bloke rather than a comedy superstar.

As for the show itself: Bishop tends to focus on several key events or topics, relevant to his own experiences, and build his material from there. Here, Bishop notes how he slowly became more famous and received more, and at times unusual, offers for work. But he also regularly refers back to life as a typical father, and the comical problems that come with it. He reassures struggling parents that their difficulties are shared with him and that teenagers really are awkward; however, he may be alone in his tale of trying to educate his kids how cool the 1978 film Saturday Night Fever is in the current decade, although he emphasises that replicating John Travolta in the movie was his dream, a dream he (sort of) makes a reality with his show-closing homage to the 1970s flick (think “Night Fever” and fans of the film should know what scene he is re-enacting).

I personally really enjoyed Bishop’s stand-up here at the time, but probably more so in hindsight, interestingly. It is early in his career, so his shows have become stronger since 2010/11, but it should still provide a plentiful of laughs and ridiculous scenarios for those who enjoy sitting back and giving a performer the chance to make them smile. One warning I would point out for those unfamiliar with John’s style of comedy is that much of it has a local flavour, and there are quite a few football references, so if you are not into local humour or indeed local football, this may not be your cup of tea. I do think, however, that this show has enough humour to satisfy any comedy-lover, regardless of whether you have an affection to Liverpool or not.

Other points on his material are that there are very few actual jokes; the comedy comes from the situations encountered by Bishop and his explanation of them, so don’t expect a huge number of one-liners. Oh, and there’s a certain amount of swearing, but if stand-up comedy is your thing, then that shouldn’t be too big an issue with you.

The extras include a behind-the-scenes look at his DVD show, a look at how his Night Fever homage was made, John’s pre-show visit to the Royal Albert Hall in London, and some mock TV adverts which we are told by Bishop that he had auditioned for. Overall, they add a good helping of entertainment and giggles to what is a humorous stand-up comedy DVD.

Compared to his fellow comedians, ranging from Peter Kay to Jimmy Carr, John Bishop’s shows will most appeal to his local fan base – which means that your tastes in humour and your personal feelings on local comedy and football-related material will be the deciding factor in whether you decide to purchase this DVD. Assuming that his brand of humour is down your street, I would definitely recommend it; but even if you aren’t a big fan of his or you are unfamiliar with his work, I still think you should give this performance a chance; after all, stand-up comedy is all about making people laugh, and regardless of your personal tastes in humour, this show from The Sunshine Tour will succeed in provoking from you a lot of laughs.

Overall Rating: 7.5/10 – Good