With a brutally honest account of his own struggles with teenage alcoholism and testicular cancer Des Bishop's stand-up is built on the type of confessional intimacy that wouldn't be out of place on an Oprah Winfrey special.

But the material is treated without the slightest hint of self-pity and deeply personal incidents are recalled with an ironic detachment that allows Bishop to make hilarious jokes at his own expense.

The delivery is wonderfully unpredictable with an affable conversational tone spiralling into manically intense rants and quick-witted audience interaction providing a springboard for some wildly inventive free association.

Male performance anxiety is ingeniously connected with the ATM message about insufficient funds and Bishop claims that his Irish compatriots regard Alcoholics Anonymous as a thoroughly sinister organisation bent on undermining their national identity.


Audiences should be warned that at times the routine puts a triple X into sexually explicit content. The details of various bodily functions - and malfunctions - are analysed with the thoroughness of a forensic examination.

At its best the humour has a cathartic quality that eases our fears about the things that make us squeamish - but the routine is constantly in danger of slipping into "too much information" territory.

Bishop seems well aware of the hazard and displays a cheerful curiosity about how audiences accept some outrageously risqué jokes but suddenly become uncomfortable when an invisible line is crossed.

The show climaxes with some very sharp observations about NZ politics in which Paula Bennett's offer of free contraception for beneficiaries becomes the subject of a wickedly clever rap.

WHAT: Des Bishop Likes to Bang
WHERE: Herald Theatre until 12 May.