How it’s New York: Caroline’s has been entertaining local audiences for over three decades
How it’s Irish: Des Bishop and all of the comedians on the bill are Irish-American
Des Bishop at Caroline’s on Broadway
Saturday, June 24, 7:30 and 10 p.m.
Sunday, June 25, 7:30 p.m.
1626 Broadway, New York
Caroline’s kept it all in the hilarious (Irish-American) family Friday night and for headliner Des Bishop, that was literal as he shared the bill with his brother Aidan, and their much-abused mum was in the audience. Friday kicked off the first of five shows the lads are doing over the weekend, with Brendan Fitzgibbons as host for the evening.
Fitzgibbons, a Chicago native, warmed up the room with crowd work, showing no love for Wisconsin or New Jersey. Having lived in both states I say fair. Now calling Crown Heights in Brooklyn home, Fitzgibbons explained that his current roommates are all women, which his friends told him sounded awful. His take on the difference between living with women (his current roommates) and with guys:
“I have a safe place for my emotions. Beats being called gay whenever I asked about the weather.”
Although most people in the room last night were fans, for those unfamiliar with the Bishop brothers’ story, they were raised in Queens but spent large parts of their youth and adult years in Ireland. Aidan Bishop, the younger of the two, has been living in Dublin for the last 14 years. He’s worked steadily as a comedian in Europe, creating a one-man show that went to the Edinburgh Fringe and is perhaps best known as the resident MC at the International Comedy Club in Dublin.
Of his unmistakable Flushing accent Bishop remarked, it’s “the least intelligent accent on the planet. You’d never hear it on the Discovery Channel.” About a decade ago, when he was in his late 20s, Bishop, who had struggled as a student, learned for the first time he was dyslexic, which was life-changing for him and also a source for comedic gold.
“When I had to look up ‘dyslexia’ on Google, it was the most patronizing ‘did you mean?’ ever! Fuck you, Google!”
Having been raised Catholic, two topics that not surprisingly got dissected were his mother and sex. When he was a teenager she caught him masturbating and told him he was disgusting. He gently mocked how a mother today would react: “She’d offer to get the kid a towel but warm it in the microwave first, ‘just like your father likes.’”
Two years ago I was introduced to Des Bishop by way of his show Made In China when it ran at the Barrow Street Theatre. While that performance was largely about his time in the East, his stand up touched on his relationship with his mother, his nephews and dating and sex in his 40s.
After getting kicked out of school in Queens for his alcoholism as a kid, his mother shipped him off to Ireland.
“A genius idea. Ireland is the only place where there are protests at AA meetings – ‘It’s only a phase!’”
His favourite pastime these days is being an uncle, or more specifically, giving his brother a hard time about his 21st century parenting methods, which involves time outs and befriending them. Bishop prefers his mother’s philosophy, in which she would yell at them to get out of her house, deliver beatings (this was the 80s, he pointed out) and had threat levels, although if she accidentally hit one of them with the buckle of the seatbelt, she’d apologize.
He recounted how, when he quit drinking at 19, he suddenly became a know-it-all and criticized his mother for the favouritism she showed toward her nieces and nephews. But now he gets it, admitting, “I definitely have a favourite. The other one can fuck off. He’s from that side of the family (referring to his sister-in-law). The subject is also a source of bonding for Bishop and his mother, who confesses to smacking the boys when she babysits for them.
Having entered the American dating pool for the first time not that long ago, Bishop has noticed key differences between how women on this side of the pond approach sex vs. Irish lasses. From his field research he’s found that Yanks are more direct while the Irish are “like, don’t worry about me. I’ll just look after myself.”
Clearly there’s some truth there as it struck a chord with my discomfited native Irish friend. Bishop is also, quite winningly, a champion of much-maligned period sex. He explained that it was a joke he’d taken out of his routine because it made audience members uncomfortable. But after getting woke by his young feminist niece when he told her “TMI” to her period talk, “it’s back in”, he triumphantly crowed. For Bishop, who will disown a friend for sneezing on him, when it comes to sex and specifically period sex, “moisture is moisture. But period sex is one position sex. You do not disconnect until you are in a toweled area!”
Whether you are a long time fans of Des and Aidan Bishop or discovering their comedy for the first time, a fantastically funny time is guaranteed at their shows this weekend.