DVD Review: John Bishop Live: Elvis Has Left The Building
John Bishop Live: Elvis Has Left The Building is the biggest selling DVD of the recent Christmas period, so it was with a mixture of trepidation and anticipation that I settled down to see what all the fuss has been about. In keeping with his newfound superstar status, Bishop precedes his show at Liverpool’s Empire with a full-scale lightshow to the sounds of Richard Strauss’ epic Also Sprach Zarathustra (more commonly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey).
The show itself is centred around Bishop’s realisation that he is now 42 – the age at which the great King of Rock ‘n’ Roll lost his life on the loo. This provides the foundation for a journey of self-discovery and dream fulfilment – a 2-hour monologue in which Bishop cleverly examines the nature of the male/female divide; parenthood and the delicate balance of power when you have teenage boys; the generation gap as exemplified by a comparison of Monopoly against Xbox Live; and – of course – the inescapable biological effects of aging.
When John Bishop arrived on our TV screens earlier this year his style didn’t initially impress me, and I found it hard to understand the hype around him. I’ve since realised that his sense of humour is simply at odds with the majority of comedians, and that although he doesn’t sit particularly well on 8 Out of 10 Cats etc., his appearances on Live At The Apollo have the audience in fits of laughter – a fact which proves he has what it takes to entertain. Largely focussing on observations of everyday life (in a similar vein to Peter Kay), Bishop makes light of circumstances that the audience have all experienced and laughed at before. Unlike Kay, however, Bishop weaves these situations into extended routines, displaying undeniable skill in articulating the humour in his inimitable personal style.
This populist approach to material is likely to be a large factor in Bishop’s monumental success, and yet he is able to join the likes of Dave Gorman in appealing to the layman while remaining popular among the comedy circuit. His relaxed style displays effortless confidence as he smoothly changes pace and subject. He talks confidently and fluidly through personal stories of family life and emotion, as well as the more unusual activities in his life: Bishop takes care never to alienate his audience, punctuating his big celebrity stories with astute everyday similes as a point of reference.
The show ends on a definite high, with an ostentatious finale that is laugh-out-loud funny. John Bishop has the audience (live and at home) in the palm of his hand throughout Elvis Has Left The Building, extracting laughs and appreciative nods of agreement from beginning to end. The eleven years of hard graft on the live circuit that have gone into creating this “overnight sensation” are evident in the elegant composition and seamless delivery of this one-man show. A night out to see John Bishop would undoubtedly be a fantastic feel-good experience, for the comedy fan and layman alike.
Added value is provided by the DVD extras, which consist of a tour diary (including some venue-specific bonus stand-up); behind the scenes scoop of the DVD recording; and a feature showing John at the Portcawl Elvis Festival.