When Des Bishop strolls down to the ocean these days, he has company.
Trotting in the sand alongside him, tongue lolling out of her mouth, is a 60-pound ball of energy named Porsha, a pit bull-mix that the Irish-American comedian is now fostering while sheltering in place at his home-away-from-home in West Hampton Dunes.
“She’s a very energetic, amazing dog, but she needs a lot of stimulation. She needs a lot of walks, she needs a lot of toys,” Mr. Bishop said less than 24 hours after bringing her home from the Southampton Animal Shelter in Hampton Bays, as she waits for her forever home. “So far, it’s just been super fun. She’s like a full-time job, in a good way — because all I have is time.”
Like millions of others keeping themselves safe from COVID-19, Mr. Bishop said there are, admittedly, worse places to hide from an international pandemic than the East End, and the area has already taken on new meaning for him.
It is not just the place where he spent his childhood summers, or where he wrote a book about his late father, “My Dad Was Nearly James Bond.” It is a place that truly feels like home, especially after buying out his brother following their mother’s death just over a year ago.
His most recent stand-up show, “Mia Mamma,” is a tribute to her.
In it, he puts a comedic spin on loss, grief and the chaos that surrounds it. But these days, he finds himself grappling with those feelings from time to time, when he isn’t defending himself against aggressive ticks, taking a dip in the ocean, or pondering the current speed of life and, with it, comedy.
“What’s funny about this pandemic, and the need to be funny about it, comes and goes very fast,” he said. “I do think there are probably some more difficult jokes to write about the fact that it’s still ongoing, but that’s not as easy. The jokes almost kind of wrote themselves in the early days of the pandemic, but now it’s a little bit deeper.”
When news of the rapid COVID-19 spread hit Ireland, where Mr. Bishop was in the midst of his comedy tour, he found himself unsure of how seriously to take it — ultimately deciding to keep his flight back to the United States on April 27, and to cancel his show for three weeks.
But when the White House issued the European travel ban, and then added England and Ireland to the list, Mr. Bishop quickly realized it was time to leave.
“It was a panic moment of, ‘Let me go now,’” he said. “I was able to change my Delta flight. It turned out to be the last direct Delta flight that left from Ireland. Things would have gotten increasingly more difficult. I just wanted to get to the house out in the Dunes and just be there, you know?”
On March 18 — the day after St. Patrick’s Day — Mr. Bishop landed in New York and headed due east, where he self-quarantined for two weeks before welcoming the first foster pit bull into his life.
“I fell in love with her. It was hard when she got adopted,” he said. “When you have to return the dog, it’s very emotional. And when those emotions ticked off, it does get a little mixed up with the grief and loss and stuff. So there was a time around when I was giving up the first foster dog to her forever home that I was very connected with grief and emotion and I thought, ‘Maybe I should write a memoir about my mom,’ but that didn’t last very long.”
The comedian has found himself largely uninspired during the pandemic, he said. Even expressing his frustration with the country’s presidential leadership got a bit old, he said, and he isn’t alone.
“A few of the comics I’ve talked to have said that it’s just getting harder and harder to have anything to talk about because life is just not happening,” he said. “In terms of stand-up comedy, it’s bad because you end up doing a lot less with your life. Even though there’s obviously stand-up comedy in being quarantined and the pandemic, and there’s plenty of jokes, everybody’s experiencing it in a very similar way, so it’s not an area I’m gonna be dying to explore in my comedy when this is all over — not to mention, everybody’s gonna be talking about it.”
With his “Mia Mamma” tour scheduled to resume in late September — “That may or may not happen,” Mr. Bishop said — the comedian is finding himself perfectly content where he is now.
“I’m quite comfortable living here,” he said. “If somebody said to me right now, ‘Listen, comedy’s never coming back, so you’re gonna have to be a ranger at the Hampton Hills Golf Club for the rest of your life,’ I’d be like, ‘Alright, well this is a life!’ It’s totally fine. I have no sense of, ‘I’m gonna get bored, I need to get back into the city,’ none of that. This is where I live.”
Apparently, it’s where the deer ticks live, too, as the comedian interrupted himself with a perfectly timed expletive, pulling one off his calf.
“I wonder how long he was in there, he or she. Hopefully it’s not a bullseye,” he murmured to himself. “She’s f—— dead, too. Jesus. I guess she was in there long enough.”
He paused. “Hmm. Maybe she’s not dead, maybe she’s just chillin’,” he said. “I found a tick on my privates last week, too. It’s just me and the ticks isolating down in West Hampton Dunes. It’s about the most action I’m gonna get: nonconsensual tick bites.”
As published in the Southampton Press