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The Bishop And The Bond
Channelling the grief he has experienced over the long illness and death of his father into comedy helped Des Bishop cope with the loss of a loved one. Now he has written movingly about his dad, a New Yorker who turned his back on showbusiness – having auditioned for the role of James Bond – to support his family. But alongside the affection there is also a deep ambivalence to be found in his memoir.
Olaf Tyaransen, 14 Dec 2011
Des Bishop has been having a funny time of late. This might seem fitting given that the 35 year-old New Yorker is one of Ireland’s best known stand-up comedians, but it’s been more funny peculiar than funny ha-ha...
“Just literally the last couple of weeks have been tough, I have to say,” he admits, with a helpless shrug. “And I couldn’t put my finger on it either, just weird moments where, like, I woke up one morning and I just... missed my dad.”
His father, Mike, passed away last February following a tough two-year battle with cancer. Ten years ago, Des had turned his own struggle with testicular cancer into comedy material, and he was to do the same with his father’s terminal illness.
He has just published a memoir entitled My Dad Was Nearly James Bond, inspired by the acclaimed stage show of the same name – a collaboration with Mike based around “the heroics of fatherhood.” A former model and actor (who had once auditioned for the role of 007), Mike had given up his glamorous life to father three sons and become a typical suburban husband and dad, working in a Manhattan clothes store to support his family. Although he had certain regrets about the life choices he had made, doing the show with Des gave him a taste of fame in his dying days. Mike appeared onstage nightly during its successful run at the Edinburgh Festival in 2010.
Galway filmmaker Pat Comer (director of the IFTA-winning In The Name Of The Fada with Des) made a TV documentary about the stage show, filmed in the Bishops’ family home in Queens, NY, and at the Edinburgh Festival.
For Des, the memoir is “the final chapter of this very public journey.”
“I just woke up one morning and everything was meaningless or too much, just really confused and agitated. These are emotions I’m not used to because I can usually put my finger on a thing and say, ‘It’s this’ or, ‘It’s that thing that I did last night. I feel a bit shit’. I don’t think it’s depression but I can see why people who are depressed really struggle with it because you can’t put your finger on exactly what it is. That’s what it felt like, just this fuckin’ all-encompassing emotion that’s not clearly just ‘I miss my dad’, but it’s just a big build-up of things.”