Imagine you are an Irish kid from Queens, New York thrown out of school in your teens for alcohol. Your parents, who evidently have no sense of irony, send you away to Ireland to punish you for your drinking. You subsequently grow up to become a comedian and a celebrity in Ireland, and you are looking for new venues to conquer. Then it hits you: If you perform in China you’ll have a potential audience of billions. Only two problems: one, you want to perform in Mandarin, but you don’t know the language at all; and two, you want to perform stand-up comedy, but the Chinese don’t know what stand-up is.
Well then you would be Des Bishop, who did exactly that. He went to China, learned Mandarin, and performed a stand-up comedy act for Chinese audiences. What’s more he went on the Chinese equivalent of The Dating Game and conversed with his potential dates in fluent Chinese.
Des tells the story of his Chinese encounters, and his love of the country in his very funny new one man show called Made in China. I interviewed him for the Arts Express program on radio station WBAI 99.5 FM NYC. You can hear the fascinating show by clicking on the gray triangle above.
Part of the pleasure when I participated in the Central Park Shakespeare Sonnet Slam last year was listening to the other actors. I remember really liking the performance of the actor who went four sonnets before me, doing Sonnet 29–“When in disgrace with Fortune and men’s eyes.” I had no idea who he was.
Last night I happily came upon a YouTube video of that actor performing the sonnet at the Sonnet Slam; I know it was the same actor, because I could see myself in the video, sitting on stage, waiting to go to the mic. The actor’s name is Ben Crystal. You can see the video above.
But it also turns out that Ben Crystal is a brilliant scholar of Shakespeare’s verse and an excellent teacher. Below, you can hear him give an extraordinary lecture on the acting and dissection of Shakespearean verse. You will come away from it equipped with more tools for understanding and acting Shakespeare. If you don’t have the time to view the whole lecture, at least listen to his reading of the sonnet. It’s very, very well done.
The pranksters at Improv Everywhere are at it again, and they need you!
Improv Everywhere is the group of geniuses who created the No Pants Subway prank. They specialize in seemingly spontaneous musical break outs in public places. In the above video you can see one of my favorite of their pranks (or “missions,” as they call them), a real life musical in a grocery store celebrating the mingling of fruits (don’t ask, the video explains all)!
And now you, too, can participate in their next prank in mid-April. If you live in NYC and have one or more of the following skills: ballet, gymnastics, or ballroom dancing, then get in contact with them at the following urls: