Irish-American stand up comedian Des Bishop performs as part of the Perth International Comedy Festival at the Astor Theatre from Thursday, May 3, ’til Saturday, May 5. Bookings can be made through BOCS.
He’s pretty famous in his adopted country of Ireland, and has been known to put more than a few bums on seats in the States, where he was born, but Des Bishop is still best known hereabouts for his performance of the ‘Australian History Rap’ at the 2009 Melbourne Comedy Festival Gala. Oddly, it’s a performance he’s not entirely happy with.
“That’s one of my great disappointments in life,” he recalls. “Because the gala edited out one of the choruses, and there’s too many lines in a row at the start. It was a film edit, not my edit. I was very happy with that rap, but mainly after that night, which was my first time performing it. Once I got more comfortable with the information contained in it, it became a lot better. I did a lot of research on it, but that night it was just pure concentration; it wasn’t even performance, because it was just 200 years in, like, 16 by three lines, and I was just happy to have gotten it out without making any mistakes. It was good fun. I learned a lot, actually.”
Since then, he’s become known as a comedian who isn’t afraid to dredge up his own pain in order to sift it for comedic material. His shows have tackled such topics as his relationship with his now-deceased father, as well as Bishop’s own battle with testicular cancer a couple of years back. This time out, though, he’s decided to turn his attention to a much less serious problem: learning to play the drums.
“This show is very light-hearted,” he says. “Ironically, I’m actually putting some rapping back in it. That Australia Rap was a one-off more than anything else; I haven’t done a lot of rapping in a long time. But my new show - because my last show was very serious, all about my dad and stuff - my new show is all about learning to play the drums. It’s called Des Bishop Likes To Bang, and it’s very playful, very improvisational, and very interactive with the audience. It’s very upbeat and light-hearted.”
Even though he insists the show has none of the seriousness of his other work, it’s clear that it still consists of Bishop’s personal experiences as filtered through his comic sensibilities.
“I do commonly do that,” he agrees. “Which sort of evolved out of this TV show I made, where suddenly I just got in this habit of experiencing a thing and then talking about it. But with drumming I literally just started learning how to play the drums, and I just saw some funny things in terms of using an electronic drum kit. In fact, this show will not be a deep exploration of learning how to play the drum kit; it will just be very fun and silly. It’s more like a great diving board for interacting with the audience, and an excuse to sing a few songs and do some stuff that I haven’t done for a while.”