The fabulous LumDimSum has a great interview with comedian Des Bishop, the mastermind behind The Bookworm’s new monthy comedy club. Here are a few gems from their chat.
Des Bishop performs Saturday, April 27, 8:00pm. 100rmb.
Shanghai is Pamela Anderson and Beijing is Scarlett Johansson. – Des Bishop
LDS: How did you come up with the idea to come to China for a year to learn Chinese in an effort to complete a stand-up show in Chinese to a Chinese audience within a year’s time? Of all the languages and countries to live for a year, why China?
DB: I worked in Dublin with a friend from China at a time when I was into Kung Fu and obsessed with all-things-Chinese. I went to
visit him in Dalian in 2004, and went back a few times after to travel around China myself. I thought China was really interesting in that it was very different from the West, not in a traditional way, but in how China had become what it is today. It shocked me in a good way, it caught me by surprise.
After doing a series about learning the Irish language and hearing more and more people talk about China, I didn’t feel like people were showing too much of what China was about. The method of learning a language and doing a gig is a great way to tell a story of a place. The challenging side of it, is that it took me five years to get it together, but it’s fun for a tv show and most people think I’m out of my mind anyway.
LDS: Comparing your previous experiences in China, what’s been the most noticeable changes this time around?
DB: When I came back to Beijing from Shanghai in 2009, I thought there was such a contrast to Shanghai feeling so much more international and modern and Beijing feeling a bit more Chinese, a bit more real. I think, maybe to a degree, Beijing is a little more international than it used to be (not going to make a decision on whether that’s good or bad), but already I notice hutong areas are hip in an international city way like East London or certain parts of Brooklyn. There’s a coolness in the hutongs. Something I’ve definitely noticed this time is that Chinese people have a lot more cash. I can’t back that up with facts, but even my Chinese friends are much more into shopping, they’re more flash.
LDS: More than just your goal of completing a Chinese stand-up show, you also have a film crew documenting your progress throughout the year for a new TV series. What do you want people abroad to see?
DB: I hope to observe cultural differences first-hand. Right now, all I know are the basic non-sensical stereotypes like “Beijing people use a lot of r’s” and “Shanghai people think they’re better than everyone else”. I want to learn more about each place, what’s unique about them, but I don’t want to learn about these things through reading Lonely Planet. I want to experience it myself and hear it through Chinese people themselves.
LDS: Observations so far?
DB: To me, Beijing and Shanghai are two very interesting cities because Shanghai is like that girl you see and you think, “Oh my god, she’s so hot, I just want to grab that” whereas Beijing is like a girl you don’t really know straight away, but then you get to know her and you realize she’s incredibly sexy, but doesn’t show it off. She’s the one you marry.
Shanghai is Pamela Anderson and Beijing is Scarlett Johansson.
Read the rest of LDS’s interview with Des Bishop at lumdimsum.com.