Landing punchlines in the home of kung fu

By Zhang Chunyan ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-07-04 08:37:18

Landing punchlines in the home of kung fu

Des Bishop returned to London's Soho Theater with his critically acclaimed show Made in China in May. [Photo/China Daily]

Irish stand-up comedian's life in China as a waiter and dating show contestant inspires hit comedy show

The decision of Irish comedian Des Bishop to become a restaurant greeter in northern China surprised many people.

What would make him swap his comfortable life for one in a country where he couldn't even speak the language?

But his journey to China has been fruitful. In one year, the American-born and Irish-bred star has mastered enough Chinese to do stand-up comedy to a Chinese audience.

Now the 39-year-old comedian wants to share his experiences in China with more people.

His one-man show in English, Made in China, run from May 26 to 30 in London's Soho Theater.

"It is a new way to tell stories about China to a Western audience," he says, adding that his stories included trying to find a girlfriend at a Beijing marriage market, taking part in a dating TV show in Jiangsu province, and working as a waiter in Heilongjiang province.

"I was 37 when I went to China, and single. I know culturally in China being old and not married will bring more pressure than we are used to. All the things are very different. I think that is interesting to us. So I just wanted to explore a little bit about the pressure Chinese people have to get married."

Bishop believes Chinese people get a lot pressure from their parents. "You know you have to be a good son or daughter. So it is a way to show something that is deeply inside China. Chinese parents get so involved in your marriage, the fact that dating is such a big issue in China."

Even with his looks and easy-going personality, Bishop admits, "I am very popular in terms of people's curiosity, but not in terms of letting their daughters to marry me."

He thinks reasons for his lack of nuptial success is that he has no hukou - household registration required by Chinese law - and that the Chinese don't understand what he does for a living. "On the TV show, I was very popular. I enjoyed being on TV. But unfortunately it was more a way of making the audience laugh than finding a woman.

"But in the West, a sense of humor is more important than in China. You know a lot of girls would say a sense of humor is most important for a man."

Bishop reveals how he became fluent in Chinese: "I was in a language university, then had a private tutor. I tried not to speak English at all."

He admits the first couple of months were a little boring. "But I have a Chinese friend who lived in Ireland and then moved back to China. So I was very much immersed in Chinese. Eating a lot, speaking Chinese a lot, and having people correct my pronunciation."

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