Monday, January 30, 2006

Des Bishop: Give Him More TV Minutes.

The inanity of RTE's much rightly shat upon comedy night continues to hurtle over the edge and crash as two of its flag ships, Anonymous and Stew finished up tonight. Anonymous does what RTE does best: steer well clear of originality and remain totally dependent on second rate Irish celebrities. It cakes their faces in make up and latex disguises to wind up unsuspecting members of the public.

Haven't we seen this before on RTE? Didn't Brendan O'Connor head off dressed as a priest to buy condoms on Don't Feed The Gondola's? So why the fuck would it be funny when Samantha Mumba does it? Been there, done that - Dom Jolly did it again and we could still handle a rather timeless comedic convention of the candid camera, but RTE take it on board these days and the idea is fucked. I mean even Mike Murphy could get the idea of comedy through disguise and windups somewhat right over two decades ago? Jason Byrne's the real problem in all this, give a second rate Irish comedian half an hour on TV and they'll put about as much effort into the concept as a dog does its bed.

Over on Stew, there's some moderately good sketches. A married duo of FM 104-esque radio DJ's who stomp around the radio station of a public hospital, never dropping their irritating mid-atlantic radio voices even while groveling for aplogies after affairs. The junkie political canvassers are also something of an oddity, but the unrepentent gaelgoir and "chunkfella" ma is as irritating a set of characters as you can summon. Its a sense of humour wholly reliant on the "northside/southside begorrah, aren't we worlds apart" convention, the sort of ABC of Irish comedy that a gerbil could throw out. The overall the routine of watching failed Fair City stars, as well as the leftovers of the dog's dinner of the Fr Ted cast is really a tired experience on RTE. Saying that, we've come some way since Upwardly Mobile..

Des Bishop is an unlikey anti-dote to all this stupidty with his Joy In The Hood. First making an impression on me via his regular slots on DFTG, screaming and roaring in a put upon Cork accent about the lack of yokes and pirate DJ's. Bishop is making a striking use of the time given to him for his show. Going into the displaced and marginalised communites of the Celtic Tiger, setting up stand up comedian workshops and effectively in the end facilitating a sort of foregrounding of issues in these communities via comedy that echoes the educational ethos of Paulo Freire. Or maybe that's pushing it?

Some have accused Bishop of using these communities as a source for the sort of gags to fuel his latest €25 plus tour. Don't forget he performs these routines in front of these communities as well, to their joy and laughter. He's aroused the ire of Limerick politicians for showing the realities of life in marginalised communities in a negative light the . But that lot are only concerned because what they've left marginalised, lost behind the PR campaigns and tourist brochures is coming back to haunt them. And anyway, what politician ever likes it when they are by-passed and the communities they claim to speak for take centre stage themselves?


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