What’s On interviews Liverpool comedian John Bishop in Dubai as the League Of Their Own star gets set for Dubai World Trade Centre. Get ticket information.

Trevor Noah in Dubai

Comedy has made John Bishop a very rich and famous man. The British comedian is thought to be worth Dhs30 million and regularly appears on TV and on stage around the world. He’s played arena tours, released DVDs and written a best-selling autobiography.

But comedy has done something far more valuable for him than buy cars and houses: it saved his marriage.

John met his wife Melanie at university; they married in 1993 and had three sons. He had a steady job in pharmaceutical sales and all was good. But long hours on the road away from home put a strain on their marriage and they separated in 2000.

“Nobody left anybody,” John explains. “We just reached a point in the marriage where we broke it up. It was depressing. It would be for anyone who has been through a relationship failure. I think love is one of those things that’s hard to define. You can love someone and be sick of living with them. You need breathing space. Most of us don’t get that opportunity, we just keep banging against the door and then that love dissolves into hatred. It’s not the person you hate, it’s the situation you are both in. I never fell out of love with Mel.”

One night after the split, John stopped by a comedy club in Manchester called The Frog And Bucket, which was running an open mic night. He got up on stage and talked about his break-up, got some laughs and quickly became hooked. John did more stand-up shows to take his mind off his marriage breakdown. “All I was doing was talking about my divorce,” admits John. “I had a proper corporate job by day and at night I would go on stage and tell jokes.”

At one particular gig, nearly 18 months after his first appearance at The Frog And Bucket, John’s estranged wife saw him perform by chance while out with friends. She was amazed at John’s transformation and fell back in love with him. They reunited, and a few years later, in 2006, John took up comedy full time.

“It was the best thing I ever did,” says John of his daring career switch. “If the success all ended tomorrow I’ll still be happy – I’ve still won. I needed a push to go out and find what really made me happy.”

Bishop’s stock has risen markedly in the last five years and he is now a regular on the television circuit, appearing on shows such as ‘League Of Their Own’ alongside James Corden and Jamie Redknapp, and ‘Have I Got News For You’ with Paul Merton. His success on the small screen led to the commissioning of his own show, ‘John Bishop’s Only Joking’, while his live stand-up performances are regularly broadcast on ‘Live at The Apollo’.

Bishop’s profile in Britain has also seen him appear at major charity events, including Soccer Aid, an biennial football match involving celebrities and former players, usually hosted at Manchester United’s home stadium of Old Trafford. He played alongside stars like Robbie Williams, Marvin Humes, Olly Murs, Mark Owen, David Seaman, Martin Keown, Michael Sheen, Will Ferrell, Gordon Ramsay, Gerard Butler, Mike Myers, Ed Norton, Woody Harrelson, Jaap Stam, Clarence Seedorf, Roy Keane and more.

May 29
Dubai World Trade Centre, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, 9pm, Dhs300. Tel: (04) 4390900. Metro: World Trade Centre. virginmegastore.me