Caught the Irish-American comedian Des Bishop at the Hi-Fi last night in our first Melbourne International Comedy Festival outing, and it was a bit disappointing. I’d hoped the humour would swing towards the Irish side — the multi-accented comedian’s got a big following thanks to television appearances there — but the material and delivery was squarely old-school observational New York style: fast, loud, self-aggrandising and not particularly witty. The kind that makes fun of yuppie Dubliners, exhorts sex in hotel rooms because you don’t have to clean up, that brags about banging groupies.
The sell-out crowd lapped it up, though: there were a hell of a lot of Irish in the room and much of the material was directed to them, and I guess he’s been here enough to know that bashing Frankston bogans is always good for a laugh from a Melbourne crowd.
It was the strangely disjoined show’s third night — maybe it’ll smooth out as it picks up steam.
One point of difference came from a Roland electric drum kit, loaded with samples of dialogue labelled homeboy, paedophile and bogan, for instance, all mined well past their worth. There was some good laughs when the sound guy went AutoTune on Des’s vocals.
The entertaining climax came when an audience member was called up to provide a chorus to go with Des’s hip-hop song — Des laid down a beat on the drums, Helen from Cork sang (and very nicely, too) a chorus from a Beyonce song, and Des unveiled his MCing with verses taken from the latest headlines: Julia Gillard, AFL’s late great Jim Stynes (of Irish background, so that explains that connection, perhaps) and Ben Cousins.
Just why he had to intro the skit by saying he was going to show how easy it was to write a hip-hop song is a mystery, but not as great as the mystery as to why he felt the need, after the song’s completion, to go back through his lyric sheet and explain all the gags. It’s kind of unusual to have a comedy show with an epilogue of explanatory notes.
As Des observed during the gig, if you’ve read the innuendo in the title, you know what to expect. What a shame he was bang on.