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When you Bish upon a star
Hard work and an ear for hilarious dialogue have made Des Bishop one of the kings of Irish comedy.
Jackie Hayden, 08 Jun 2006
Live At The Marquee might consider themselves a mite lucky to be catching Des Bishop at a time in his career when he’s on quite a roll, with some observers claiming that he’s the funniest comedian in Ireland right now.
Indeed, the story of Bishop’s rise to the top of the hugely competitive Irish comedy pile could almost be used to define the word “mercurial”. For you don’t have to go back too far to find a time when his name was totally unknown in comedy circles – anywhere! But he has built an apparently unstoppable upward career trajectory with an uncanny ability to erect a mirror to Irish society. That, not surprisingly in the land of saints and scholars, has enraged quite a few sensitive souls, but had the rest of us howling with laughter at our most ridiculous foibles and follies.
Many comedians do not work as well on TV as they do on stage before a live audience, but Bishop has proven quite the opposite. He has chalked up a provocative series of television appearances, while also successfully entertaining the masses through sell-out tours. His latest jaunt around the country, pointedly dubbed Fitting In, saw him do a staggering run at Vicar Street that lasted for over 30 nights and took his unique brand of comedy to over 15 venues around the country.
Ironically, Bishop hails from New York, and still considers himself a New Yorker. Much of his repertoire is inspired by his efforts to fit into his adopted country, and his outsider’s view enables him to say things about Irish people that we might not expect, or even wish, to hear from one of our own. But it is important to recognise that his success has not been confined to Irish audiences, having had crowds in stitches at various international comedy festivals in such far-flung places as Aspen in Colorado, New York City, Boston and, of course, Edinburgh.
Bishop also deserves recognition for helping to start the International Comedy Club in Dublin, which since its inception has proven to be a stimulating breeding ground for the new generation of Irish comics. In 2002 he was awarded the Tapwater Comedy Award (a rival to the Perrier comedy award), and his name is now mentioned in the same breath as Tommy Tiernan and Jason Byrne as proof of the healthy state of the Irish comedy scene.