Des Bishop is to spend a year in China, where he aims to learn enough Mandarin to perform a stand-up gig to native speakers.
He plans to move in with a family in suburban Beijing in January, find a job and learn a martial art.
Bishop’s new challenge, which will be documented by Irish broadcaster RTE, follows his success in mastering the Irish language in the TV series In The Name Of The Fada.
As he had been a teenage American immigrant to Ireland, he felt that learning the language as an adult was important to fully understand the culture of his adopted homeland – a similar motivation for his Chinese adventure.
Bishop has previously visited China after befriending Chinese co-workers in a Waterford branch of the fast-food chain Abrekebabra – part of another TV project where he took on a series of minimum wage jobs.
‘What I thought China was and what it is are two very different things,’ he told The Independent. ‘All you hear is the very narrow focus upon human rights, the economy, the one-party system and the disparity between the rural poor and the urban wealthy. You never hear about everyday life.
‘I was blown away by how different it was to my expectations and how much it was unlike the West.’
And the 37-year-old says that his experiences over 2013 will help him when it comes to the stand-up gig to an audience that speaks no English, saying: ‘There's plenty of humour in mispronunciation and crossed-wires material.’