American-born, Irish-bred comedian Des Bishop is an unconventional character. His aspiration to increase his fan base encouraged him to shift from learning a local language spoken only by a mere 60,000 people to one that a fifth of the world considers their native tongue.
His decision to move to China to learn the language spoken by millions (which he consistently refers to as Chinese rather than Mandarin) and his adventures over the next seventeen months contribute to the bulk of his source material for this show: Made in China.
During the course of a breathless and adrenalised sixty minutes, Bishop offers pictorial lessons on tones, the repercussions of using slightly different inflections (especially when one’s new name is potentially connected to sexual references), the disappointments of tourist attractions and the plight of trying to find a suitable wife amongst the domestic Chinese marriage market.
He even makes it on Chinese television in his search for his future spouse and if his incessant cross-cultural banter doesn’t delight then his fluency will, at the very least, impress. Not to mention his dedication to spreading the cultural traditions of Ireland by singing lustily about the IRA.
While Bishop doesn’t shy away from the fact, it is clear that the show is a byproduct of the television series that was being made for Irish television. Not necessarily a bad thing but the emphasis on the video excerpts tends to dominate the show (along with PowerPoint slides, photos and clips) and seems to leave little time for Bishop to adequately cover the breadth and depth of his experiences.
The remaining shows in Auckland have been sold out (with tickets still available for the same show on Saturday which will be performed in Mandarin) but there are plenty of opportunities to catch Bishop in Wellington.
If you’ve ever done a course on inter-cultural competency or training and want to take it up a notch, Bishop’s show definitely has potential. It offers none of the typical cultural cringe observations that sweep comedy and fringe festivals and his personality genuinely bubbles with love for his new home. Check it out!
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