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Des Bishop Likes To Bang

Note: This review is from 2012

Review by Steve Bennett

Des Bishop Likes To Bang is allegedly titled after his newfound love of drumming – although this actually takes only a small part of the show. As it happens, a routine about the other sort of banging far outshines it.

But then a more accurate title, such as Des Bishop Treads Water, probably wouldn’t have quite the same box-office draw. For this is a hodgepodge of unconnected stand-up material – some of it surprisingly lazy – plus some mucking about with sound samples and stilted audience participation.

It’s perhaps forgivable that he’s come down a gear after his powerful, personal show about his dying father, which must have been wrenching to perform at an emotionally difficult time. But that set a bar so high, this cannot possible hope to match it.

The first chunk of the show involves a lot of pat observations about the differences between Ireland (wet) and Australia (hot) that wouldn’t have taken a second to dream up. This is sold hard by Bishop’s loud, forceful delivery, but it’s very slight stuff, while the constant references to his fame back home, though intended as explanatory, come across as arrogant.

There’s better stuff on his battle with grey hairs and teenage drinking, with a routine in which Bishop comes over all Don Corleone to an underage Dublin chancer who asks him to buy booze on his behalf, which culminates in a great payoff. Bishop then gets dirty with a formidable central section about sex that ranges from the dirty to the disgusting, with him revelling in the shock laughs his hilarious filth generates.

But then the electronic V-Drums came out, and the show plunged into the self-indulgent. Any kid who’s every had a musical instrument that samples sounds starts by saying a few rude phrases into it, and this is pretty much all Bishop does for a few minutes, mucking about with supposed settings such as ‘rudeboy’, ‘bogan’ and ‘paedophile’ by way of supposed context. Compared to the genius of Reggie Watts, who uses loop and sample technology to produce mini improvised masterpieces, this is Fisher-Price stuff.

Bishop makes no bones about his frustrated ambitions to be a hip-hop star, so the finale involves making up a hit on the fly. This is ultimately rather fun, but not after an awful lot of faff – with his sidekick mucking about with the tempo of the backbeat and an audience volunteer suddenly put on the spot without enough priming, leading to a lot of umming and aahing until we get to where we need to be.

It all makes for a rather scrappy show that, like his electronic snares, should be easy to beat.

Review date: 8 Apr 2012
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Melbourne International Comedy Festival

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