Growing up can be tough, especially when your parents move you to a completely different country—and even when you’re pretty sure they speak English in that new place. Stand-up comedian Des Bishop has been through that routine more than once, being born in London, raised in New York, and finally moving to Ireland at 14 years old.
Coming of age in two different but oddly similar environments will skew anyone’s mindset, which begins to explain Bishop’s unique style of observational comedy and his criticism of Ireland as well as of the America he left behind. If tragedy plus time equals comedy, then between the culture shock of crossing the pond twice and a brush with cancer, you’d think that Bishop would have to wait a lifetime to make things funny. But he figured it all out pretty quickly.
I recently spoke with the celebrity comic about his time on Dancing with the Stars, the Edinburgh Fringe Fest, and his book.
Which would you rather? Relearn Chinese all over again from the start, or partner with Dancing With the Stars judge Brian Redmond for a 10-minute tango?
I would rather relearn Chinese again. Not because Brian is a bad guy or anything, I just can’t handle the feeling of facial hair rubbing against my own.
Nickname you hated the most growing up?
Yank. Growing up in New York you really don’t hear that much. And here in the States it has a whole different meaning than over there.
What is the one thing you never want to hear again when someone notices your accent?
“Oh well, I bet you can really drink, huh?”
You’ve been to Boston a few times; what’s the one thing you would tell people, besides your mother, to check out when they come to visit?
Oh, I don’t know what to say. I’m not much of a drinker. I quit drinking at age 19. I was a big drinker, and I was a bad drinker with a drinking problem. That’s why I quit.
What is your opinion on the drink the Irish Car Bomb?
What? Is that a real drink?
Yes. It’s half a shot of Baileys Irish Cream and half a shot of Jameson, dropped into a Guinness.
I suppose I feel the same way about it as I would a drink called an ISIS Beheading.
Spotify. A lot of juvenile dubstep.
What is the most challenging part, the most fun thing a comedian should do, and what is the one thing every tourist should do at Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
The most challenging part would be doing 30 shows in 30 nights. Absolute madness. Well, I had the most absolute fun playing futbol with the other comedians. And when I say futbol, I mean soccer.
Your one-man show became the focus of both a documentary and a book. What were the challenges in creating three separate works on the same subject?
The show sort of fed the doc, so the documentary’s really just chartering that journey toward doing the show. So, those two things were kind of like one thing to us, that was easy. The book is really more about my dad’s life than just about what we did with the show. So the book is the same title, but it’s actually a very different thing.
Which American comedy club would you want to spend 30 straight nights performing at?
The Comedy Cellar in New York. That’s basically what I’m already doing.
Which one would you prefer the least?
Oh, uh… Stand Up New York.
What would your wrestling name be if you were a wrestler?
See Des Bishop this weekend at Laugh Boston. He’ll be performing two shows—at 8 and 10 pm each night. Tickets are $25, and can be purchased at laughboston.com. For more information about this show, or any comedy show in town, visit BostonComedyShows.com.