The quality of one eagerly awaited festival event is set to stand or fall depending on the weekend performance of Liverpool Football Club.
“The show's going be good or bad depending on how Liverpool do on the Sunday,” says Scouse comic and fanatical Liverpool fan John Bishop, ahead of his appearance tonight in the Speigeltent.
He may no longer be an angry young man, but has drawn a stash of material for his new set from having reached a rather bizarre milestone in his life.
“The whole premise of the show is the fact that I found out this year that I'm the same age that Elvis Presley was when he died,” he says.
“When you've reached a certain point in your life, you do have to sit down and take stock, because things are never going to be quite the same again — you never go to the toilet the same way again, anyway!”
Bishop is no stranger to Northern Ireland.
He’s performed here many times and was a regular panellist on BBC Northern Ireland’s The Blame Game.
But, like a true pro, he’s looking to pull in new |audiences and acknowledges he can’t rest on his laurels.
“When you walk on stage you can't pretend that you're not trying to be funny.
It's like being a lap-dancer — once you take your clothes off, you can't pretend you didn't mean it.
“That’s the degree of madness we all have within us.”
But Burton has three unpaid advisers, who keep his moral compass right.
“I'm married with three kids,” he says. “Can you imagine me going on and doing rude jokes, then going home and looking my 15-year-old son in the eye?
“Anyway I get most of my material from them — it's the only reason I've kept them!”
Meanwhile, opera surfaces at the festival this week with the arrival of one of the UK’s leading companies, Opera North.
Its four-day residency at the Grand Opera House will be taken up on Wednesday and Friday by a revival of Mozart’s wonderfully enigmatic Cosi Fan Tutte.
It has described by the Guardian newspaper as “aesthetically ravishing” — and |on Thursday and Saturday by a new production of Jules
Based on Goethe’s poignant novel about unrequited love, Massenet’s glorious music brings the story to new life.
This will be the first time Werther has been performed here and will feature one of the world’s finest mezzo-sopranos, Alice Coote.
Further information visit: www.belfastfestival.com