First published on 25 Apr 2009. Updated on 2 May 2009.
The name "Des Bishop" may not be be perched on Australian tongues
right now, but in his (adopted) Irish homeland, he's a bona fide star.
It's not simply because of his stand up comedy chops, which range from
musings on drugs, his brush with testicular cancer, and his youth in
New York. (As he explains in one of his confessional routines, "When I
was 14 years old, I had a serious problem with alcohol so my mother
came up with this ingenious idea to send me to Ireland to go to
boarding school. Needless to say, I was delighted. It's like a
Disneyland for alcoholics!").
However, the 13-years-sober comedian sounds chipper as he outlines
his plans for international touring. "Well, I had an intense time up until last March because I was doing
this Irish language project [the TV show In The Name Of The Fada, to
which we shall return later] and I went to Melbourne [Comedy Festival]
and that kind of changed everything because I got such a kick out of it
and all of a sudden I realised that I hadn't been gigging outside of
Ireland enough in my life."
Given that Bishop moved to Ireland at 14, it's interesting he took
to the culture and the language with such fervent enthusiasm. "But
that's a recent thing. I mean, I always got on great in Ireland but the
Irish language thing was a more recent desire to learn it. But then as
a result of doing it, it got inside of me so to speak. The language is
a lot more powerful than I expected. It's very hard to say what it is,
but it's more than just language: it's more like a culture that never
died. The language never died, so therefore certain ways of thinking
and acting and interacting with people never died. So the whole
experience was very inspiring and the culture has really now gotten
under my skin. In a good way."
He confesses that one of the first inspirations for learning the
language was to get the jokes that all Irish-educated people
understood, which lead him to pitch it to Ireland's national
broadcaster RTÉ as a television show.
However, he's quick to point out that his routines will be entirely
in English. "I do some material about the Irish language but it's
generic stuff that's funny and interesting and doesn't require any
knowledge of the language at all."
Des Bishopperforms at the Enmore Theatre on Tue 28 Apr
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