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"As The Bishop Said"
Back with a Bang, Des Bishop discusses his most technical show to date and how Alcoholics Anonymous inspired an upcoming project.
Dave Hanratty, 01 Oct 2012
It’s shortly after 11am and Des Bishop is a tad bleary-eyed as we settle into a booth in the Fitzwilliam Hotel. Not a result of a night on the tiles. Rather the comedian easing back into normality after the Edinburgh Fringe. The festival has been good to Bishop. It yielded particularly poignant scenes in 2010 when he brought his terminally-ill father Michael onstage at the climax of My Dad Was Nearly James Bond, a show described by the Guardian as “a gift from a son to his father”, one that spawned last year’s RTÉ documentary and book of the same name.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Bishop’s return to the live circuit finds him significantly dialling down the more personal aspects of his life in favour of something lighter; Des Bishop Likes To Bang. A concept show built around drumming, Bang’s origins were somewhat happenstance. Having plucked up the courage to ‘have a go’ on Dead Cat Bounce’s drums last year, he was subsequently gifted an electronic kit from a friend. Bishop, naturally enough, constructed a show that allowed him to reconnect with musical comedy, and the various frustrations contained within.
“Comedy songs, when you perform them, they’re a very easy laugh,” he begins. “Surprisingly easy. Getting to the point where you have a song to perform, especially for me because I’m not a musician, took a lot longer and it was much more work than the previous way that I was writing stuff. Trial and error. Do it again, over and over. I was getting a lot of drumming lessons before Christmas, trying to get better.
“If I had gotten a lot better, which I knew wasn’t going to happen in that short space of time, I was thinking that I could maybe revisit this in a couple of years and have a whole new set because I’ll actually be able to respond to people, be a better drummer. Still, it was never about becoming a better drummer; it was about trying to find what’s funny, trying to find the jokes. Also, writing songs is different, writing these funny raps. It’s a really different style of writing. You’ve gotta write the fuckin’ lyrics, gotta find the song and it doesn’t even matter if you’re reading off a page – which I often do – it takes four or five goes to even find out how the song works.”