Des Bishop : Made in China

By Lisa Clark

Des Bishop is a convivial comedian with an enthusiastic style who was born in Queens, New York and immigrated with his family to Ireland when he was sixteen. His comedy has always tended to be observational humour about being the outsider. He’s obviously run out of things to observe in Ireland and spent time living in China to see what he can observe there.

Actually the real reason he went to China was a new idea for an Irish reality TV show. Des has made a string of them; living on minimum wage (The Des Bishop Experience), mentoring would-be comedians living in poverty (Joy in the Hood), learning enough Irish to do a comedy routine in the Irish language (In The Name of the Fada). This one was spending a year in China to learn enough Chinese for a fifteen minute comedy routine in Mandarin. He ended up loving China and says he’d like to show us a different more positive side of China to the one usually portrayed in the media.

He used lots of pictures and some video that are obviously destined for the TV show. It made for interesting watching while we were being seated and waited for the show to start. He opened with some Chinese hip hop that set the scene for a high energy show. One of the main highlights was teaching us the four tones of the Chinese language and how they can completely change the meaning of a word spelt exactly the same way. It made his name into a rude word.

A lot of Des’ humour stemmed from cultural differences he discovered. I noticed he described the Chinese people he met as direct and blunt which made me think that it was less surprising that a New Yorker from Queens would fit in. His style is pretty direct too and often crude and he found he had curtail his profanities while in China. The high point of the show was a video of some musicians as enthusiastic and exuberant about their work as Des.

It was a straight forward, skilfully presented show and tell with laughs by an experienced entertainer. Comedians are always looking for new ideas and ways of creating comedy material. Made in China may have been part of his preparation for writing his television show or another way of mining work from it, it was hard to tell, but it was an entertaining hour for the audience nonetheless.

Made in China is on at Victoria Hotel until April 20