‘My Dad Was Nearly James Bond’ ***** The Guardian

Brian Logan from ‘The Guardian’ reviewed Des Bishops ‘My Dad Was Nearly James Bond’. He must have been impressed with what he saw because he has given it an amazing 5 stars!

My Dad Was Nearly James Bond

***** ‘The Guardian’

Cynic that I am, I approached Manhattan Irishman Des Bishop’s show about his father’s terminal cancer with trepidation. When standup takes on personal trauma, goodwill can substitute for laughs, and trite uplift for the complexity of experience. But that’s barely the case here – Bishop sails close to but resists sentimentality for most of the show, at least until a tearjerking, coup de théâtre finale. The show is only sometimes great comedy, but it’s always a totally compelling story about a father’s sacrifices, and the midlife awakening of an errant son.

Its success lies in its specificity. This is a show about Bishop and his family’s crisis. The first half relates – in film clips and anecdote – Des’s father Michael’s early career as a 60s model, bit-part actor and near-miss to play James Bond. Bishop gave this all up for his family, and regretted it – and the implication that he was second-best always riled his son. But these currents of sacrifice, authority and affection are all reversed by the father’s cancer diagnosis. Suddenly, Des is “parent to my parents”, and dad gets revenge for years of insolence.

For much of the show, Bishop’s high-octane delivery makes his serious-minded script seem funnier than it is. Later, there are well-crafted routines about Irish emotional inhibition and the imbecilic sexual attitudes of the 007 films. To have been James Bond is less than to have been a good father, says Bishop. Such conclusions are glib on the page, but there’s nothing cheaply bought about the grip he exerts on his audience. He brings honesty, perceptiveness and 35 years’ worth of bottled-up love, and fashions them into a beautiful gift to his dad. Like diamonds, this show is for ever.

Des Bishop is performing at the Assembly@George St. for the duration of the Fringe at 8.05. You can buy tickets here.

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