John Bishop: Elvis Has Left The Building, Hammersmith Apollo, London
Monday 10 May 2010
If you had told me last August that I would be seeing John Bishop's Edinburgh show performed at the Hammersmith Apollo nine months later, I would have bet against it, even after Bishop was nominated for the Edinburgh Comedy Award later that month. Still, the award nomination has precipitated much television work, Bishop's stock is most definitely up and a new TV vehicle beckons in the autumn.
Tonight, Bishop's titular Elvis only enters the building in the second half, with the first half devoted to "messing about". This equates to tales of his new-found fame, including telling his kids off by phone before entering the Jonathan Ross green room to join Jeff Bridges, Westlife and Courtney Love ("I was only in her company two hours, but I can't blame that Kurt Cobain fella").
The second half faithfully reprises Bishop's Edinburgh show, about a man coming to terms with middle age (brought into focus when he finds out from a documentary that Elvis died at 42). Cue a generous routine devoted to the well-worn clichés of gym membership, clothes that don't look good anymore and muscles he doesn't think he needs his personal trainer to find since he says won't be using them at his age anyway. While this is standard fare, Bishop pleases the crowd by conjuring sucker punches where it matters.
The crowd-pleasing aspect of the canny comic's act is cemented in the finale, where footage from Elvis's emotional 1972 concert overlaps with clips of Bishop playing in a charity game for his beloved Liverpool at Anfield. Billed as two men living their dream, the sequence is a dead-cert tug on the heartstrings.
Despite some longeurs, Bishop commands warmth and applause from his audience and he'll go marching on with a new TV show, a DVD and a new tour to look forward to in the autumn. Elvis may have left the building, but there's a new comedian in town, a man who would be the king.
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