- Live Review
- 27 Jan 23
Bishop returns to the Dame Street venue on April 19th for another Dublin performance of Mia Mamma.
What I wasn’t expecting going into a stand-up show, was to leave with tears in my eyes.
But don’t be fooled - though Des’ Mia Mamma tour deals exclusively with the death of his mother Eileen, the stand-up act exuded an uplifting honesty about grief, without ever venturing into the territory of morbid or morose. Discussing the difference in the death of his mother versus his father, Des said, “I think it’s tougher to lose your mum. My Dad was best supporting actor. My mother was the actress in a leading role. You are never ready when the star of the show dies.”
In his typical quirky, charming fashion, the comedian's show opened with an upbeat, 'old-timey' announcement of his mother’s passing on a projection behind him. A slideshow montage followed featuring Eileen, and subsequently, the rest of the show was annotated by pictures and various moments captured throughout the grief process.
When Des emerged from behind the curtained wings, only a mic, and an exercise bike stood on stage.
Bishop glosses over his history and his connection to Ireland, recalling his upbringing in Queens after his mother Eileen was born in New York to Irish immigrant parents. The 47-year old spoke of his early childhood, and the staunch Republicanism that influenced his Irish identity as a child. He found himself in Ireland at the age of 14 in Wexford where he attended secondary school.
Bishop reiterated his mother’s resilience on numerous occasions throughout the show, citing her toughness, rather than her loving qualities- what Des has deemed a commonality of Irish motherhood. He spoke of how he really got to know his mother was through anecdotes, which was similarly conveyed to his 3Olympia audience as they were told those same stories. The 47-year old comedian’s mixture of stories oozed sentimentality without ever being sappy, combining the forces of nostalgia and humour for a winning concoction.
Bishop also addressed his own struggles, in a way that allowed him to connect to everyone in the room. Without stooping to the lure of infinite labels and diagnoses or turning overtly introspective, Des provided a refreshing view on them, acknowledging what his struggles may now be termed of, with the aid of awareness and perspective.
There was a pragmatism to his show too, detailing the pitfalls and plans one should put in place before the time of death, integrating the modern day farce of technology. His mother’s old Facebook posts even featured on the slideshow screen behind the comic.
Despite selling out to a 1,200 crowd, the comedian’s stand-up was such an intimate show, and dubbed by Des as “Catholic karaoke” the show boasted a sing-along of some funeral favourites, with every voice from the crowd joining in.
Then, in a sudden shift, Bishop began undressing, dropping not only his blazer, but his dress pants to the floor. And with that, suddenly the question of the exercise bike was answered. As the cycling shoes were clicked onto his feet, the stand-up spoke of finding catharsis in spinning.
As the show grew to a close, Des reflected on his mother’s life, and as much as his own grief, on hers, and her regrets. With not a single stereotype in sight, the comedian delivered a refreshing, intimate, and awakened take on loss.
After the show, in the hallways of the 3Olympia, and in queues for toilet cubicles, conversations were taking place about peoples’ own personal brush with the process, and anecdotes of the loss of their own loved ones emanated through the hustle and bustle of closing time.
Bishop opened up a well-overdue conversation about grief and dealing with death, that has been stuffed down in the mire along with the topic of mental health and much-needed emotional conversations that have only surfaced in relatively recent times.
Earning a sustained standing ovation at the show's conclusion, Des Bishop is running a league of his own with his Mia Mamma show.
- Live Review
- 17 Oct 22