Family man Bishop lnows his roots and wants to fill his boots

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IT has to be said, few of us have experienced seeing a family member become one of the most familiar faces in the country.

While John Bishop is clearly close to his family – he quips about struggling to get his eldest out of bed after briefly delaying our interview to chat to said son – he believes his role hasn’t changed much in the home.

“I don’t know how they think of me as the person on telly, but I’m dad first and foremost,” he says.

“I think I’m a bit of a pain in the arse as a dad as well because I genuinely can’t understand how when you get told to get up you don’t. They play me because they know I’m just gonna get wound up.”

There’s also the chance they may realise their behaviour could figure in a future set, maybe? “I don’t think they want to be talked about, to be perfectly honest.”

John goes on to talk fondly of one of his earliest career venues, the tiny Lescar backroom, as he reveals how his latest show is being compiled, and how what was a hobby now comes with the expectation of millions.

“When I first started I had a notepad with me and as soon as someone said something I’d be ‘I’ll have that, that’s good’.

“But things exist in context so when you’re out with your mates and something is funny it’s because you’re with your mates. So my way of doing it, particularly putting this tour together, is I’ve been doing warm up gigs. I sit down and just jot down what I’ve done. At the time I wasn’t thinking that was funny, but now I just go on and talk about it. In many respects a comedian is a vocal journalist. Instead of writing you speak it.

“The first couple of gigs, starting the story, it was like the first time I did stand up, it was great. I hadn’t set it up so there’s a joke, but that’s evolved into the show.

“People ask ‘Do you test it on your wife?’ Not a chance and me kids think I’m s***, so I don’t. I’ve always found it’s like being a lone ranger being a comedian. You can have a posse with you but at the end of the day it’s your gunfight. It’s just got to be you and the audience.”

The warm-ups initially involved a Q&A with the crowd. Now there’s two hours of material and John’s happy to admit not everything that comes out of his mouth generates a laugh, such as a line he had about wishing his wife a happy anniversary on Twitter.

“Every time I tried it nobody thought it was funny. In my head it was, but...nothing. In Leeds I said ‘This is a work in progress and you have just seen the death of that joke. ”

That’s maybe a brave admission from a comic whose previous tour was described by one critic as “Unimprovable”.

“That’s a great quote. That gives you a benchmark. This tour is the first only arena tour I’ve done and it may be the last. I just don’t know. But what I want to do is make sure the show is as good as everyone hopes.”

With that in mind, does he feel pressure? John ponders the question and grins.

“I left our house today and there were nine builders vans in our drive. We’ve just moved into the house, we’ve got a leak, tiles don’t fit, the electrics don’t work. That’s pressure, trying to manage that.

“Getting on stage. I’ve never really thought about it, but as a married man with teenage kids, living the life we all live, being on stage is the only time I can control my world, it’s great.”

And having tasted the other end of comedy, doing 30,000 miles a year around the club circuit, John counts his blessings. “That’s why, while the heat is around me, I want to grab this and make sure I do good shows, almost as a mark of respect to the lads I know who are on the circuit. At the moment I’m the lucky one, but I’m certainly not pretending I’m any better than them, because I’m not.”