Des Bishop is a native New Yorker who’s been living in Ireland since his teens, and in recent years has become one of the Emerald Isle’s favourite comedians. After a few visits in the last few years to our festivals here he’s well on the way to becoming an Aussie favourite as well. He’s here to spend a few months touring Australia with his show and catching a good bit of sightseeing along the way.
We started with a bit of chat about how Australia has nearly all its festivals so close together in the first half of the year, and what does that do for comedy?
GFI: You’re doing a wide ranging tour with just a few festival dates this year, skipping in and out of our packed Aussie festival season.
DB: your festivals – Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney – are really close together aren’t they – it’s feast or famine! Why not have a few later in the year?
GFI: Well, you internationals tend to only come out for one trip a year, so everybody wants you and they schedule their fests accordingly. Its
GFI & DB: …a balancing act!
GFI: I know relatively few established comedians have the energy or the interest to do a full festival every single year, so how do you decide which ones to do?
DB: Well I only just got into festivals about 3 years ago – I used to just do Edinburgh, and then I got busy in Ireland, so I stopped doing any of them, except the Irish one, the Kilkenny Cat Laughs, so I only just started doing other festivals 3 years ago – well, I just like coming to Australia, to be honest – I would come out no matter what was going on. I don’t like being restricted to working within the festival confines either, because then you end up just following the trodden path that everybody’s doing, and I dunno, I just feel like there’s an element of, you just get forced into one way of doing things, which I don’t really like, but I guess it does bring people into once central spot, and if you’re not well known it does make it more likely that people will take a risk and come to see your show, because they’re there for the festival, to just check out stuff, not just people they know.
DB: But it’s still restricted, all your shows have to be bang on the hour and then you have to clear the venue, when you’re touring you get to have more freedom.
GFI: So some of your dates are well off the beaten track with the festivals – Perth, Canberra…
DB: Yeah, Canberra’s a bit of a risk, but it should be good. Some of the towns have a big Irish population, which is good for me. Word of mouth, definitely.
DB: I’m cheating by just jumping into Adelaide for a week and not doing the full season.
GFI: Lots of others doing the same – there’s so many people wanting slots.
DB: I don’t know if I could handle just being around comedians for all those months, I mean I love my friends and everything, but it’s a bit full on – it’s like 2 months straight and then you’ve only got two months off and you’re with them again at Edinburgh. It’s a bit – it would drive me over the edge.
GFI: I think I know what you mean – when you’re around comedians a lot there can be a bit of a sense of them bouncing punchlines off you, being a testing board.
DB: It’s an intense environment, and I wouldn’t be too critical of it, but it gets a bit full-on – who wants to feel like you’re at an office party every night for two months? You just want to kinda be away from that – and I’m as guilty of it as the next comedian – you just end up talking about comedy, it’s what you have in common, and it’s a natural thing. And y’know, while you’re talking about it you’re into it, but then you go home at night and your head is fried. So that’s why I don’t think I’d be able to do the full Adelaide into Melbourne into Sydney run back to back – that’d be a lot.
GFI: So you find it better to just do the occasional festival burst and run away?
DB: I enjoy it, like Melbourne I enjoy, but after a month I’m happy to just not be around comedians for a while – except for my close friends, of course. And the other thing is that at festivals you end up doing a lot of late night shows, and drop-ins at different venues, and it’s awesome while you’re doing it but then you just need to step away, because what goes up must come down, like at some stage you need to be just not pulsating with energy for 21 nights in a row. You just need that break, like emotionally – it can’t be healthy.
GFI: so what do you do to take you out of that headspace while you’re in the pulsating energy festival zone? Are you a gamer, a runner, do yoga?
DB: Well normally I do run, but I’ve got a knee injury, in fact I’m off to see they physio after this interview. But normally, exercise is it – and the movies. Exercise and the movies, and just chilling with my friends. Sometimes I go away on an actual chilling trip so I can get right away from it all.
GFI: I’d better not keep you from your therapy session then. Thanks for talking to me.
- Adelaide Fringe
Date: 5-7 March, 2010
Venue: The Arts Theatre
Price: $25 (5th); $30/$25 (6th & 7th)
Bookings: 1300 374 643 www.adelaidefringe.com.au
- Brisbane Comedy Festival
Date: 9-14 March, 2010
Venue: Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre
Bookings: (07) 3358 8600
- Gold Coast
Date: 18 March, 2010
Venue: Gold Coast Arts Theatre
Bookings: (07) 5588 4000
- Melbourne International Comedy Festival
Date: 25 March-18 April, 2010
Venue: Trades Hall, New Ballroom
Time: 8.15pm Tue-Sat; 7.15pm Sun. No Mons
Price: Tues $25; Fri & Sat $32; Wed, Thur and Sun $30/$25. Groups $25
Date: 22-25 April, 2010
Venue: The Street Theatre
Bookings: (02) 6247 1223 www.thestreet.org.au
- Sydney Comedy Festival
Date: 30 April – 1 May, 2010
Venue: The Enmore Theatre
Bookings: 02 9020 6966
Date: 7 & 8 May, 2010
Venue: The Astor Theatre
Bookings: (08) 9484 1133 www.bocsticketing.com.au
Des will also be dropping into regular comedy clubs for spots as he moves around the country. Keep your eyes on your local comedy room to catch him around the corner from you.