Des Bishop's Comical Warfare
Show type: Edinburgh Fringe 2002
This native New Yorker and Star of RTE's Don't Feed the Gondolas declares war on ignorance and stupidity. From chemical warfare to immersion heating, Bishop's show will help you to escape, and confront, what's happening to the world.
Des Bishop has some of the most passionate and opinionated material on the September 11 aftermath of any comedian on the fringe - but he keeps you waiting for it.
The last 25 minutes or so of this show is brilliant, as Bishop, with real fire in his belly, rails against prejudice, politics and religion in a heartfelt tirade blessed with intelligent ideas.
However, this particular night also included a moment that would make any fan of such serious, from-the-heart comedy despair for the future.
Bishop - to his admitted shame - ends his anti-Bush rant with a weak line about never trusting a man named after pubic hair, then asks if the audience has any questions, or wants to take issue with, anything in the preceding blast of serious, controversial stand-up. All he got was one man pointing to his neighbour and giggling: "His last name's Fallus." Political material just can't compete with a man with a rude-sounding surname.
There is plenty for those who don't like their comedy too challenging in the first half of Bishop's show - a decent but unexciting half-hour that's so totally different from the remained that it could have come from another comic altogether.
This New Yorker, who now lives in Ireland, takes an age getting going, asking interminable geography questions: "Anyone in from ?" and employing the usual stereotypes in response.
In this section, the most political it gets is when Bishop uses his unique perspective on the Irish situation purely to perform a version of Cypress Hill's Insane In The Membrane with the word 'insane' replaced by 'Sinn Fein'. Not, perhaps, the most insightful piece on the subject, but Bishop is a good rapper and talented human beatbox - so perhaps he can be excused for wanting to show off his abilities.
It also may be his love and experience of hip-hop that makes him so good on the mic, and his hugely effective political diatribe is delivered with the force and passion of a street preacher.
He's got the stage presence to fill a room several times larger than this, and even his funny but unexceptional culture-shock stand-up is delivered with verve and style.
But let's hope he realises that, despite the knob-gag heckles, there is an audience for his passionate political stuff - at least outside America - and gains the confidence to concentrate on this most brilliant of material without the crutch of the easier first half.
Clare - 29/01/2003