DES BISHOP - Made in China

San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, Wellington

04/05/2015 - 09/05/2015

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

28/04/2015 - 02/05/2015

NZ International Comedy Festival 2015

Production Details


In February 2013 American-born Irish-bred comedian Des Bishop went to China to try to learn enough Chinese to master a stand up gig.

What happened in the twelve months that followed is now Made in China, Bishop’s return to the NZ International Comedy Festival, also with a special one-off performance completely in Mandarin.

Never shy of a challenge, not only was it Bishop’s aim to perform stand-up comedy in Mandarin to a Chinese audience, now he wants to make the world laugh about what he’s learnt.

>From searching for a girlfriend at a Beijing marriage market to working as a waiter in a Heilongjiang restaurant, Made in China is a fun journey through a country we all feel we need to know better. If China is poised to take over the world, we better learn to make them laugh!

Well known in Ireland for his entertainment documentaries on Irish TV Network RTÉ (his China excursion will air in 2014), Bishop has also been a Festival regular over the years. His restless imagination, insightful comic mind and the openness and honesty of his rapid-fire presenting style have been his catch cry.

Bishop moved from Queens, New York to Ireland as a 14 year old, commencing his stand up career in the late 1990’s. In addition to his documentaries (The Des Bishop Work Experience (2004), Joy in the Hood (2006) and In the Name of the Fada (2008)) and live shows, Bishop has released four stand up DVDs. He has appeared regularly on Network Ten’s annual fundraising Melbourne International Comedy Festival Gala, and is a favourite of ABC1’s comedy panel show Spicks and Specks.

★★★★ The Age

★★★★★ The Guardian, UK

★★★★★ TimeOut London

★★★★★ Evening Standard, UK

As part of the 2015 NZ International Comedy Festival in cahoots with Old Mout Cider, for some great laughs, grab your favourite people and join us from 24 April – 17 May. 

For the full line-up of shows in the Festival head to

Dates: Tuesday 28 April – Saturday 2 May, 7pm
Venue: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Mayoral Drive, Auckland
Tickets: $30 – $33 (booking fees apply)
Bookings: 09 970 9700 //

Dates: Saturday 2 May, 5pm
Venue: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Mayoral Drive, Auckland
Tickets: $25 – $33 (booking fees apply)
Bookings: 09 970 9700 //

Dates: Monday 4 May – Saturday 9 May, 7pm
Venue: San Fran, Cuba Street, Wellington
Tickets: $30 – $33 (booking fees apply)
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (842 538) //

Comedy , Solo ,

1 hour

Infectious enthusiasm drives fish-out-of-water spin-off

Review by Simon Howard 05th May 2015

Des Bishop isn’t your usual comedian. Most comedians wouldn’t decide to move to a foreign country for two years, immerse themselves in the culture and learn a new language all in the name of comedy. And most comedians certainly wouldn’t start their show with a Chinese hip-hop performance. 

American by birth but based in Ireland since the age of fourteen, Bishop is one of the Emerald Isle’s biggest comedians. This is his first time in Wellington after previously appearing in Auckland during the 2012 Comedy Festival.

The show acts as a journey through Bishop’s two year stay in the Middle Kingdom, from his motivations for emigrating through to his early eyebrow-raising experiences including appearances on popular Chinese dating shows and working as a greeter in a restaurant. Be it learning the tones of the Chinese language or the difficulties barbers have cutting his hair, this is a show which crams as many stories from his stay as he can fit in to a one hour show. One can only imagine the number of anecdotes Bishop had to cut out when putting his set together.

Bishop makes the art of stand-up comedy look effortless. Switching between English and Mandarin without even pausing to take breath at times, he makes the art of bilingualism look easy. Be it cheekily adding tangents to his planned material or giving away the secrets of his craft, he puts the audience at ease and earns a lot of audience goodwill with his self-deprecating style of humour.

China may be a country with issues too numerous to mention, but Bishop manages to inject the country with soul and brings everything down to a basic human level. Despite the widespread corruption, there is much more to China than just those in power, and this is a point which Bishop is keen to hammer home. In a landscape filled with cynicism his enthusiasm is infectious, and the way he engages with all things Chinese is to be commended. There is richness to his humour, and it comes from a place of respect.

There is a serious element to parts of Bishop’s story too, in particular the obstacles he must overcome in order to do stand-up. Upon arrival in China he is assigned a censor who follows him and his film crew everywhere they go, ensuring they do not step out of line. The subjects of Tibet, Tiananmen and Taiwan In particular are strictly off the agenda. The shocking way in which women are labelled as leftovers if they do not marry by a certain age is appalling however you look at it.

If there are any negatives to Made in China, it would be that at times it does feel like somebody telling you about how awesome their overseas experience was and showing you via PowerPoint what he has seen and experienced.  This is essentially a spin-off of a series Bishop made for Irish television, but he makes this clear and it doesn’t hinder the show in any way. 

Made in China operates effectively on multiple levels. Acting as a fascinating insight behind the walls of this world superpower, this is also a hilarious fish-out-of-water show packed full of Bishop’s cultural misunderstanding and experience. If you have even a passing interest in China then this is definitely a show worth seeing.


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From China, with love

Review by Dione Joseph 01st May 2015

American-born, Irish-bred comedian Des Bishop is an unconventional character. His aspiration to increase his fan base encouraged him to shift from learning a local language spoken only by a mere 60,000 people to one that a fifth of the world considers their native tongue. 

His decision to move to China to learn the language spoken by millions (which he consistently refers to as Chinese rather than Mandarin) and his adventures over the next seventeen months contribute to the bulk of his source material for this show: Made in China.   

During the course of a breathless and adrenalised sixty minutes, Bishop offers pictorial lessons on tones, the repercussions of using slightly different inflections (especially when one’s new name is potentially connected to sexual references), the disappointments of tourist attractions and the plight of trying to find a suitable wife amongst the domestic Chinese marriage market.

He even makes it on Chinese television in his search for his future spouse and if his incessant cross-cultural banter doesn’t delight then his fluency will, at the very least, impress. Not to mention his dedication to spreading the cultural traditions of Ireland by singing lustily about the IRA. 

While Bishop doesn’t shy away from the fact, it is clear that the show is a byproduct of the television series that was being made for Irish television. Not necessarily a bad thing but the emphasis on the video excerpts tends to dominate the show (along with PowerPoint slides, photos and clips) and seems to leave little time for Bishop to adequately cover the breadth and depth of his experiences. 

The remaining shows in Auckland have been sold out (with tickets still available for the same show on Saturday which will be performed in Mandarin) but there are plenty of opportunities to catch Bishop in Wellington. 

If you’ve ever done a course on inter-cultural competency or training and want to take it up a notch, Bishop’s show definitely has potential. It offers none of the typical cultural cringe observations that sweep comedy and fringe festivals and his personality genuinely bubbles with love for his new home. Check it out!


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