John Bishop: Rollercoaster Tour, 02 Arena, London


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The Independent Culture

The title of his tour is 'Rollercoaster' and pedestrian flats and tickling highs are exactly what you get with John Bishop's latest offering.

The first half hints at building up some speed, but soon bottoms out to a not unpleasant lulling pace. Bishop's lispy Liverpudlian brogue never sounds anything but comfortable, but nor are his routines any more than that.

The wisdom of welcoming men on the maternity ward (“No place for a man unless he is working there... I don't mean plastering”), family holidays with or without the kids, and the vogue for Spanx underwear all pass by harmlessly enough.

Elsewhere, an attempt to draw parallels with the Olympics closing ceremony and an examination of his masculinity culminates in an adequate George Michael gag, while an extended routine on 'Fifty Shades of Grey' sees Bishop commit to a theme without getting tied down by too much insight. That said, the image of the book's lead character, Christian Grey, dutifully watching his son play football while wearing a gimp mask is a neat attempt by Bishop to pour cold water on the overheated bonkbuster.

The second half of the show essentially consists of Bishop recounting how being on the telly has led to him getting involved in some japes for charity, or just for the hell of it - such as skydiving with a hungover Freddie Flintoff.

Perhaps it shouldn't work as well as it does, but Bishop in storytelling mode is breezy and he seems to find more angles from which to rebound his wit. He embroiders the skydiving escapade with numerous winning details including how the plane takes off in a manner reminiscent of a leg-humping dog on heat.

Bishops's crescendo comes too early, however. The routine which should have ended the show is his explanation of the intimate waxing he had to undergo in order to complete the cycling section of his triathlon for Sport Relief. “If I could look underneath there I would be in the circus not talking to you” is the comic's initial reaction to being told to check his 'area', before he supplies us with a detailed, but not lurid, account of his trip to salon to get himself fixed.

A lover of football, Bishop really does play a game of two halves tonight. A Pools Panel would award a score draw as a fair result.

Tours until 3rd November