Des Bishop: Desfunctional

DVD review by Steve Bennett

Though raised in New York, Des Bishop has warmly embraced every aspect of his adopted Irish home – perhaps even more so than the natives, given that he has become such a vociferous champion of the Irish language he learnt for a TV show.

This live DVD, recorded at Galway’s Roisin Dubh, continues his exploration of the island; with special interest in the nation’s emotional psyche. Ireland has a reputation for being a cold land, and Bishop thinks that’s just not a meteorological description among a population so afraid of any true display of true emotion that they will always diffuse the possibility with a joke. The same, of course, could also be said of the British.

This isn’t necessarily an outsider’s take. Bishop’s lived in Ireland for nearly 20 years, since he was 14 years old, and admits to similar problems with intimacy thanks to his ‘emotionally fucked-up’ upbringing. Like many a comedian, that’s presumably why he finds such matters easier to talk about on stage than in life, paradoxical as it seems.

There are a couple of tales from his earlier years in Ireland, including his first introduction to the hitherto alien concept of stinging nettles. However, grasping the nettle is something he doesn’t quite do in the show. That psychological intent nearly always stays firmly in the background, and rather than really wrestling with the subject, he uses it merely as a jumping-off point for various yarns, irregardless of how ‘on topic’ they are.

But he’s is a good storyteller, even if some areas, such as embarrassing teenage discos or the Irish climate have been so well-covered by comedians before him that it’s hard to find much new. Bishop has got an ear for a good turn of phrase, though, and can get forcefully passionate in his delivery – even if that energy is sparked by nothing immediately more substantial than the subject of masturbation – making the routines stand out.

His argument that the Catholic guilt associated with such a universal activity makes a nation repressed (and let’s gloss over the inconvenient fact that Latin Catholic countries don’t share that emotional subjugation) does bring the show back to its stated theme after diversions to talk about his experiences of things as diverse as Australia and Taytos crisps.

The finer points of his closing routine about the clash of old Ireland and the new – as personified by a sex-shop owner – may be slightly lost on UK viewers, but this remains an entertaining 80 minutes, even if it pulls its punches when it comes to some of the promised insights.

Main feature: 80 min
Extras: 11 mins of outtakes
Released by: Universal Pictures on November 9
Price: £19.99. Click here to buy from Amazon at £12.98

Published: 13 Nov 2009

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.