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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
“And the way I look at it is: sibling rivalry is what it is, but I think that just motivates us. I still want him to do better than everybody else in Ireland. I would kinda do anything for him, but I haven’t done that much for him because I never wanted anyone to be able to turn around and say, ‘You fuckin’ got what you got because your brother was big here by the time you got over here’. I do a lot more for him now, only because I feel that he earns it. I’ve looked after a lot of guys so why the fuck wouldn’t I look after my brother?
“So it’s kind of weird, because yes, at times we do stuff together, like later tonight we’re gigging together. If he does really well, I find that harder to follow than say, if DO’D did really well. You feel he’s just more like you. So it’s harder to go out there and not think they’re looking at me going, ‘Oh! Aidan was actually good’, you know? But then, outside of that, I want him to do better, so I think it’s just a healthy rivalry. And I probably only admit that now because I’m reading the Franzen books, and I can just see that it is a big motivator for people.”
Career-wise, with countless hours onstage, four successful TV series, and a few tabloid moments to his credit, Des is definitely way ahead of his younger brother. What’s the biggest room you’ve ever played?
“The biggest personal gig, the biggest gig I ever did that was just me was The Marquee in Cork. 4,000. That’s my peak.”
Has the recession hit the comedy scene badly?
“It’s hard to say,” he mulls. “I was doing a bit better a couple of years back, but I don’t know if you could totally put that down to the recession. I haven’t done a series on TV for four years. So I’m going nicely. I mean, I’m not selling as many tickets as I sold in 2006 but, at the same time, I’m still selling more tickets than I need to sell. Every career has peaks and troughs.
“But I do think that comedy is good value and it does good in a recession. I’ll tell you what’s definitely hit – tickets sell later. A €25 ticket for Vicar St. is gonna sell a lot later than it used to because people are just going, ‘I’m not buying four fuckin’ tickets for this show and then it turns out we can’t go’, so they’re gonna make sure that they can go. So it’s definitely affected it, but maybe not as bad as other industries.” He looks around the room. “It’s definitely not hitting places like this.”