John Bishop has become one of Britain’s best-loved comedians. It is his sheer likeability that means he can sell out arenas in the blink of an eye.
Bishop, who brings his new show Winging It to Leeds this weekend, came to comedy relatively late in life, as he only gave up his full-time job with a pharmaceutical company a decade ago.
“I still can’t believe that I do this as a job!,” he says. “But now I realise this is the reality. It’s not going to go away. There is no chance that I could never ever go back. I’m now officially in showbiz.”
Despite establishing an extensive TV career, Bishop says stand-up has always been his first love. “I sometimes feel that maybe I don’t need TV. But I can never see myself not wanting to do live stand-up.There is probably a real scientific explanation for it. When you say something funny on stage, you get your judgement instantly. You’re always only four words away from success or failure. That’s a brilliant tightrope to walk.”
John, who is happily married to Melanie and has three grown-up sons, goes on to reveal what subjects he will be covering in Winging It.
“The show has three themes. I start by talking about being 50. The second part of the show is about all the kids leaving home. I admit, that was hard. We’re suddenly living in an empty nest, and it’s really strange.“We’ve adjusted to it now, but there is still part of you that thinks, ‘Wow, you only get one go at being a dad, and that go was their childhood.’ As a parent, you’re busy building a nest to share with the kids, but sometimes you wish you’d done more sharing and less building. I really wasn’t expecting to have those feelings.”
John proceeds to outline the third part of the show. “The third theme is mortality, which is a thing you think about when you know you have already passed half way in your life.”
Before we part, John tells me what he hopes people will take away from “Winging It”. “I hope that if people come in harassed, they soon forget their daily troubles and leave feeling a lot happier. The essence of comedy is to make people feel better. It’s not complicated.”
John Bishop is at Leeds First Direct Arena this Friday and Saturday, October 27 and 28.