Opinion: The John Bishop Show – Accidentally Brilliant?

John Bishop Show

I have to say I’ve been impressed by The John Bishop Show. Just when you think stand-up on mainstream TV has settled into a rut with the same acts on a shiny-floored conveyor belt John Bishop has given air-time to different stand-ups who really deserve it in a weirdly appealing mash-up of seaside special variety and club comedy.

Of course this is not exactly reinventing the wheel and there are also the acts who have done the TV stand-up rounds. This week’s guests Hal Cruttenden and Jimeoin have been on primetime before, but the more coverage these excellent jokesmiths get the better. And there was also Tanya Lee Davis, and Vikki Stone referencing Schrodinger's Cat on BBC1 on a Saturday night in her ode to Brian Cox. It might be a fluke that Bishop has featured some of my favourite circuit acts in the last few weeks between the fire-eaters and acrobats, but even if it is a fluke it has made The John Bishop Show accidentally brilliant.

But the host - who makes a point of saying each week that he has handpicked the acts – has also showcased lesser-exposed comics such as Zoe Lyons, Phil Wang and Tom Stade. James Acaster confirmed that he has huge crossover appeal with his appearance. Acts get to do interesting material. Trevor Noah talked about racism, Felicity Ward talked about sexism and Zoe Lyons did a gag about pulled pork that was so good I’ve been quoting it every time I see the Subway poster for pulled pork baguettes.

And earlier this week I found out that Luisa Omielan has recently filmed an appearance that is due to go out on June 27. It has not been revealed if she is going to be doing her viral thigh gap routine but the fact that she is going to be on primetime TV doing anything is pretty staggering. Three weeks ago I interviewed Omielan and she bemoaned the fact that she could not get a sniff of mainstream TV despite having 10 million Facebook views of her hit clip. 

John Bishop is giving Omielan the break that other stand-up shows have shied away from doing so good for him. In this week's show Bishop did a routine about appearing at Late and Live in Edinburgh where the audience is so mixed it is “like the bar in Star Wars”. Bishop got some great laughs out of describing the different worlds colliding on the Fringe. He is also getting some great laughs by mixing different worlds – primetime variety and intelligent comedy – on his BBC1 show. 

The John Bishop Show, Saturdays, BBC1, 9.45pm.


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