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Search-Engine Serendipity And Frequent-Flier Miles
Dave Gorman is an inspiration to lazy writers everywhere, and not just because he's a David Sedaris-like storyteller with uncanny timing. What might be most impressive about this often-exasperated Englishman is that he has turned the most mundane and common activity - wasting time on the Internet - into an art form.
"Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure," an affectionate ode to distraction written and performed by Mr. Gorman, who insists that every word is true, begins with an early midlife crisis. After turning 31, Mr. Gorman concluded that it was time for him to grow up and be taken seriously. So he set out to do what he considered to be two very mature things: grow a beard and write a novel. The beard turned out great.
Initially, Mr. Gorman's novel was sidetracked by minor distractions - e-mail messages, Internet surfing, getting drunk - but he soon stumbled upon a gloriously pointless diversion that would take over three months of his life: the googlewhack. If you've never heard this funny-sounding word and your job productivity is high, you might want to ignore the next paragraph.
A googlewhack is what you get when you type two words into the Internet search engine Google and it comes back with only one entry. Finding these random pairs is not easy, but while some people might squander a few minutes searching for googlewhacks, Mr. Gorman, a strange, deeply obsessive man, traveled more than 90,000 miles, around the world several times, in a googlewhack quest that is the subject of this hilarious show.
In his last performance piece, "Are You Dave Gorman?" Mr. Gorman, who describes his work as "documentary comedy," told the story of his attempt to find 54 people with his name. (He met more than 100.) His new lark is even more random: an attempt to meet the owners of 10 consecutive, connected googlewhacked sites.
Mr. Gorman contacted the owner of a googlewhacked site, tracked this person down in France and asked him to find another googlewhack. Once that man discovered a site and contacted its owner in Washington, Mr. Gorman was on a plane to find him - and, of course, the next googlewhack. And on and on he went.
Mr. Gorman relates this picaresque tale with the help of an excellently produced slideshow, which includes Mr. Gorman's smiling mug in, among other places, Washington, Paris, Australia and Columbus, Ohio.
He appears to have a real affection for the people he meets, which is not surprising since many of them are obsessives just like him: they include a man who collects photographs of women with dogs, a single-minded creationist and a closeted gay man who might be Kylie Minogue's biggest fan. Mr. Gorman describes each of them as "lovely, lovely people" - except the creationist, whose lack of interest in finding a googlewhack draws Mr. Gorman's ire.
Mr. Gorman delivers his half-embarrassed tales with the precision of Mussolini's trains, and his magnetic performance displays some of the oddball intensity of the early routines of Steve Martin (one of Mr. Gorman's heroes); his stories, filled with quirky observations and unpredictable turns, have many laughs but few jokes.
So what if his novel never comes out (although a book about his googlewhacking has)? Mr. Gorman, the Picasso of procrastination, proves that much can be accomplished by avoiding that next deadline. Here's hoping that he doesn't try to be taken seriously again.
Jason Zinoman, The New York Times.
From The Web To Worldwide
It took British comedian Dave Gorman's uniquely quirky and obsessive mind to parlay an unsolicited e-mail into a quest of heroic proportions and to chronicle it in a hilarious confessional solo performance piece, "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure," currently at UCLA's Macgowan LittleTheater.
In the e-mail in question, an unknown Australian informed Gorman that he was a "Googlewhack" -- the byproduct of an obscure cyberspace pastime involving the ubiquitous Google search engine, in which the arbitrary pairing of two key words yields only a single link out of billions of searchable Web pages (it takes an esoteric combination such as "hydroids/souvlaki" or "dork/turnspit" to hit a Googlewhack). Needless to say, there is a small but zealous Internet subculture devoted to the pursuit of Googlewhacks.
The timing of this discovery was particularly fortuitous for Gorman. Having reached his 30s, he'd recently decided it was time to finally shoulder some adult responsibility and had recklessly accepted a publisher's cash advance to write a novel ("Don't they know that's no way to get me working?"). Nearly all his available distractions had been exhausted when he discovered the seductive Googlewhack portal to infinite procrastination.
Where most Googlewhackers confine their globetrotting to the keyboard, Gorman combined the game with one of his long-standing fascinations: using chance operations to make contact with people around the world whom he never would have met otherwise (a previous Gorman monologue described his pursuit of people with the same name as his).
Adding to the story's dramatic stakes were the terms of a drunken New Year's Eve bet that launched his adventure -- he had to follow a chain of 10 consecutive Googlewhack website owners who were willing to meet him in person. Each had to find him two other candidates for the next link in the chain. And he had to complete the entire chain by his next birthday, two months away.
Gorman's zigzagging transcontinental journey to meet other Googlewhacks (traveling more than 90,000 miles at an average speed of 50 mph) bears more than passing similarities to that of his equally obsessive fictional compatriot and spiritual predecessor, Phileas Fogg, whose 80-day voyage around the world also started with a wager. Both stories come down to a nail-biting race against the clock.
Unlike the fanciful yarn Jules Verne concocted for Fogg, Gorman's story -- he insists -- is entirely true. Accurate reporting shifts the emphasis from his own cleverness to an appreciation for the rich diversity of humanity he would rather celebrate. Besides, he points out, "If I could make things up, I'd have written a novel in the first place."
While Gorman's timing is impeccable, he also weaves disparate narrative threads with the seamless assurance of an accomplished raconteur. Supplemented with photos and educational graphics from his laptop computer, his Googlewhack adventure is more than a collection of jokes and amusing anecdotes. It's a richly varied, delightful and at times surprisingly touching human tapestry.
Having blown his publisher's advance on his quixotic effort, Gorman was at least able to leverage it into this award-winning show and a related book. His ingenuity puts to shame those of us who fend off deadlines with mere errands and household chores.
Pick Of The Week
In his oddly inspiring one-man show, the pale, scruffy Englishman Dave Gorman tells of his determination on his 30th birthday to be taken seriously. This presents something of a challenge, since the man's prior projects include searching the world for others named Dave Gorman, and then throwing a party for about three dozen of them.
What follows is a meticulously and furiously paced study in procrastination and distraction from starting his first novel - for which he's been given an advance. In the first of many strategies for wasting time, Gorman checks his e-mail, where he learns that his Web site contains a "Googlewhack" - two rare words that, when plugged into the Google search engine, lead to one and only one result. If the person owning that Googlewhacked Web site can be found, and can provide a new Googlewhack word combination (The Observer crossword puzzle helps), you get a Googlewhack chain.
Gorman's lunatic attempt to meet a chain of 10 Googlewhackers before his 32nd birthday sends him around the world in 80 days, more or less, on an expedition that's Jules Verne-ish in both its stakes, structure and eccentricities.
The story is entirely true, Gorman insists, after railing against people who knowingly lie. This renders Gorman the only ethicist on record who admits to throwing his borrowed life savings into the wind, pretty much on a dare.
His show offers a vicarious thrill about the joy of meeting strangers, but I'd think twice before giving him a loan.
'Googlewhack Adventure' trip to nonstop Laughsville
One-man show is possibly funniest feel-good piece of theater to come to L.A. in five years.
On New Year's Day 2003, Dave Gorman awoke to find himself at Heathrow Airport in London with a roundtrip ticket in his pocket to Washington, D.C., and no idea how he -- or it -- got there.
This information comes about one-third of the way through the performer's latest one-man show, "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure." And by then, you likely will be sitting on the edge of your seat, excitedly wondering what will happen next. You also should be exhausted from nonstop laughing.
In what is possibly the funniest feel-good piece of theater to grace Los Angeles in the last five years, "Googlewhack Adventure" is also the most unbelievable -- though its creator swears it's all true.
He even has the photographs to back it up.
For the benefit of the uninitiated, Googlewhack is a decidedly 21st-century term that refers to the event when two random words are run through the Internet search engine Google, and only one of the more than 3 billion pages on the Web is found as a match.
Gorman had no inkling of the phenomenon until he found out that his Web site was one. The words "Francophile" and "namesakes" at one time were found only atwww.davegorman.com (it doesn't work anymore, thanks to this show). Gorman was notified of his googlewhack status by a stranger.
That could have been the end of it. Instead, through a seemingly bizarre series of coincidences, the comedic performer set out to meet other Googlewhacks and that took him around the world.
It wasn't an unprecedented adventure for Gorman, whose last big show, "Are You Dave Gorman?" had him globetrotting in order to meet others who shared his name.
In this show, Gorman, who was in the middle of unsuccessfully writing a novel -- for which he was paid a hefty advance -- tries quite hard not to go searching for Googlewhacks. In fact, he flatly refuses a bet that he can find and meet the owners of 10 consecutive Googlewhacks before his 32nd birthday.
But his friends, serendipity, and some New Year's Eve tequila drinking conspire against him. And before you know it, he's off and running.
Gorman's ability to tell a story with total sincerity and wonderment is refreshing. He eschews jokes and allows the insanity of the story itself to provide the humor, which it does without halting for 100 minutes.
His delivery, despite a blistering pace, is casual, and he sounds as though he never tires of sharing an experience that you simply can't believe anyone would attempt.
Gorman accompanies his tale with an impressive slide show that documents each leg of his adventure. And though he covers most of the pertinent moments, there clearly is so much left out that he could have made the show five times as long. It all would be captivating.
"Googlewhack Adventure" is more than simply funny.
Without commenting directly on it, Gorman makes a strong case that seemingly random and improbable coincidences are everywhere, and that if you are receptive to following whimsy, you will discover them in bunches.
To tell more of the plot would lessen the show's impact. But if your schedule only allows you to get out of the house once in the next three weeks, it should be to attend this show. It's that good.
Whack Job -- In Best Possible Way
Dave Gorman Begins His Show At UCLA's Macgowan Little Theatre with the line, "I've got a very strange story to tell you."
And he isn't kidding - or maybe he is. But the British comedian, who will be appearing at Macgowan through April 10, brings proof of his strange odyssey in the form of a slide show accompanying his entertainingly animated tale. The pictures are of airplane boarding passes, Internet messages, his reddish beard (which is still evident) and the people he met when he went Googlewhacking in the frantic few months before his 32nd birthday. (By the way, Gorman also has a bit of proof he brings along, but you'll have to see him yourself.)
But what in the world is Googlewhacking - or, more precisely, a Googlewhack - you may ask? A Googlewhack, as the madcap Gorman explains early in his manic and often hilarious discourse, is what you get when you put two words into the Google Internet search engine and only one Web site turns up. As it turned out, the comedian's own site, davegorman.com, was a Googlewhack, which Gorman learned when a fan e-mailed him (a shot of the e-mail appears on the screen).
Intrigued by this and needing a diversion to avoid beginning a novel on which Random House had given him an advance, Gorman went Googlewhacking. The urge to write a novel, by the way, came from Gorman's turning 30 and wanting to be taken seriously - thus the beard, too. Unfortunately, Random House did take him seriously, but Gorman was lacking inspiration. Googlewhacking, on the other hand, slowly took hold of him. It took four hours to come up with "dork turnspit," which led him to www.womenanddogsuk.co.uk (perhaps not what you think). He then sent an e-mail to the site's proprietor, explaining that the site was a Googlewhack, and the two soon struck up a friendship.
After meeting his friend at womenanddogsuk, Gorman was challenged by another friend - also named Dave Gorman (the comedian had once gathered 50 of the same-named gentlemen for a party) - to have each of his Googlewhacks find two more Googlewhacks, each of whom he would then visit, until he had a chain of 10.
Gorman quickly dismissed the idea, but after a New Year's Eve party boast and a bottle of tequila, he was on a plane to Washington, D.C., which was only the beginning of a 90,000-mile obsession, taking little more than two months, with stops in China, Australia and Columbus, Ohio, and including encounters with a creationist, scientists, family men and a closeted gay man with a Kylie Minogue fetish, among others.
Gorman's story goes beyond obsession. It is one of serendipity and coincidence, of madness and delights, frustrations and triumphs.
Like master storytellers David Sedaris or the late Spalding Gray, Gorman has perfect timing and cleverly builds his tale incident by incident so that the audience soon feels part of the outrageous madness. (Who among us, after all, hasn't made procrastination an art form?) And, like Sedaris and Gray, there is ample irony in his tale, but less so the dark sort. Gorman's universe is comic, and the laughs come not from jokes but from the quirky coincidences and just plain weirdness.
In the end, Gorman's quest is like that of Quixote's - a form of insanity that yields some very funny truths.
The British comic takes audiences on a riotous journey to the wildest places on the World Wide Web.
In a nutshell: A Googlewhacking good time.
In a word, 'Googlewhack!' wins
Don't let the title scare you: "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure" doesn't refer to anything naughty and is not, as its star assures us, a "strange Australian insult."
Rather, it refers to the Internet search engine Google, and the bizarre game in which one attempts to find two words that produce only one result among its 3 billion Web pages, i.e. "unconstructive superegos" and "dork turnspit."
Then again, "googlewhack" isn't a bad way to describe Dave Gorman, who has again managed to turn a bizarre, quixotic obsession into a riotous one-person show.
After learning about the game through a friend, Gorman tried it himself during a period of writer's block. He decided to travel the world attempting to meet the owners of various Googlewhacked sites, all before his 32nd birthday.
Fortunately for us, Gorman, rather than resuming the novel he was blocked on, followed through on his obsession, as hilariously detailed here.
It's not just the highly clever concepts that elevate Gorman's theater pieces above the usual level of self-indulgent one-person shows. It's also his superb comic timing, his seemingly endless enthusiasm, and his adroit use of visual aids.
What should have come across as the ultimate of gimmicks instead seems like a spiritual quest.
Frank Schenk, The New York Post.
Brit brings whirlwind travels to stage in wired one-man show
For most people, listening to a friend's rambling tales of a vacation abroad tests the bounds of patience and sincerity, particularly if it's accompanied by the requisite onslaught of photos.
Credit Dave Gorman, then, for making the unendurable tolerable even entertaining in his inventive one-man show, "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure," now playing at off-Broadway's Village Theater.
In the show, already a hit in Britain and at comedy festivals in Australia and Canada, the high-energy Gorman tells the story of how he became addicted to a type of Internet game called "Googlewhacking," then traveled the world on an almost unwitting lark to meet the people he randomly finds on the Web.
To the uninitiated, which is almost everybody not tech-savvy enough to program a VCR, a Googlewhack is what occurs when a person enters two disparate words into the popular Internet search engine Google and it spits back only one hit.
For example, Gorman says a search for 'periscopes' and 'unicyclist' turned up only one Web page containing the two words out of several billion on the Internet, though a check now will find some 20-odd Web pages referencing his show.
On his first try to find one, Gorman says he discovered a Web page that coincidentally belonged to a friend contacted by e-mail. Then the friend issued a challenge: Complete a chain of Googlewhacks by contacting 10 consecutive Web site owners and persuading them to meet you. And do it before your 32nd birthday, a couple months away.
So, after a night of heavy drinking in London on New Year's Eve, Gorman woke up at the airport the next day with his passport and a plane ticket in his pocket, and his adventure began.
It takes a man of certain pluck and self-described idiocy to embark on such an excursion - and a mark of brilliance to bring it so cohesively to the stage.
One-man shows often succeed on the strength of a performer's character, and Gorman has personality in abundance. His extroverted style makes his exploits believable, while his on-stage flair and facial contortions would make a reading of the Manhattan phone book interesting. Gorman would either be an ideal travel partner, or a nightmarish one, depending on how much enthusiasm one could stand.
But it's his storytelling ability that maintains the show, as he deftly weaves subplots and tangents and keeps the audience hanging on his every syllable. Though his humor is refreshingly brainy, Gorman doesn't lose an audience when he builds up to a punch line by launching into a three-minute diatribe on creationism. Nor does he falter when he picks up the pace.
By the end, it's hard to believe one man could talk that much _ and that quickly _ without taking more than one drink of water and without allowing an audience full of attention-span-challenged Americans a chance to rest with an intermission.
One caveat: This show is probably not for everyone. A younger, hipper audience will certainly appreciate Gorman's tech-literate allusions more than those for whom the Internet is still a frightening, mysterious place.
Justin Bergman, Associated Press
Dave Gorman was supposed to write a novel. He had a very nice contract with Random House and a sizable monetary advance -- but when he sat down at his computer, he could not start chapter one. The problem, he states, is that his computer is connected to the Internet, which contains "everything in the whole wide world ever," and this can be a bit distracting. A random e-mail from a stranger telling him that he's a "googlewhack" puts into motion the hilarious chain of events related in his compelling one-man tour de force Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure.
For those unfamiliar with the term, a "googlewhack" is what happens when you key two unrelated words into the Internet search engine Google and come back with only one response. By extension, the term also applies to the owners of these websites. In Gorman's case, the words entered were "Francophile" and "namesakes" (which, of course, no longer qualify him as a googlewhack, as those two words now pull up several websites -- most of which relate to the writer-performer's current show). When Gorman discovered that he was a googlewhack, his first impulse was to try out different word combinations to see if he could find other googlewhacks.
For anyone else, the adventure might have ended there, but this is Dave Gorman. This is the man who, as a result of a drunken bet with his friend Danny Wallace, set out to find as many people named Dave Gorman as possible. His hilarious show Are You Dave Gorman? -- which earned its author a Drama Desk nomination for outstanding solo performance in 2001 -- related this unlikely quest that took Gorman and Wallace around the globe, meeting Dave Gormans everywhere from Ireland to Israel to Norway to multiple destinations within both the United Kingdom (where Gorman lives) and the United States. When another friend (himself a googlewhack) bets him that he can't meet 10 googlewhacks in a row, the new adventure begins in earnest. Gorman is resistant at first; after all, he has turned 31, grown a beard, and believes that he's put his childish behavior behind him. But through a bizarre sequence of events, he ends up meeting the first five googlewhacks in a chain and feels that he just can't stop there.
Gorman is a marvelous storyteller with a buoyant energy and a charming demeanor. His lilting British accent, combined with his comically expressive face, adds to the pleasure of seeing him perform. He displays a knowing self-mockery but also the sheer joy of telling a good story; his comic timing is impeccable, and the pacing and delivery of his presentation flawless. His rapport with the audience is so good that he gets audible reactions every time his googlewhack adventure hits a snag. No director is credited in the program, which makes Gorman's achievement even more remarkable; he is aided by several designers, including Steven Capone (set), Deborah Constantine (lighting), and Peter Fitzgerald (sound). However, the most impressive technical achievement in the show belongs to Gorman himself, who has created a witty PowerPoint presentation to accompany his spoken narrative. Projected on a screen, it displays the photographic evidence of Gorman's journey, as well as pie charts and other graphics that amusingly detail the absurdity of his project.
What makes Gorman's tale more than just amusing is the depth of feeling that the author displays. We get to see the loneliness that drove him to seek out a fellow googlewhack in Washington, D.C., the despair that he experienced in Austin, Texas, and the conflicted emotions that arose during the final leg in his journey. Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure is ultimately about the search for human connection as recounted by a man who has gone to great lengths and traveled even greater distances to find it.
Dan Bacalzo, TheatreMania
Inquisitive, impulsive, and self-effacing, British writer/performer Dave Gorman makes himself the absurd hero of self-imposed odysseys, and then turns these adventures into stage shows. In a prior work, Are You Dave Gorman?, he told the story of a time when he decided to meet and shake the hands of other Dave Gormans around the world. That show has toured worldwide, winning a Drama Desk Award for its New York production and resulted in a best-selling companion book. It also led Gorman to be hired by a major publisher to apply his wit to write a novel, a work of fiction. This is where the story of Googlewhack begins--he is 31, he has grown a beard to reinforce the idea that he is now a serious adult who has a hefty advance to write a novel, and he sits at a computer to do his work of making things up. However, like so many whose work is on computers connected to the Internet, he finds all the distractions he wants online.
A chain of events begins when Gorman receives an email informing him that his website, davegorman.com, contains a Googlewhack. A Googlewhack, is a set of two words that, when entered into the search engine Google, produce one and only one search result. Considering that Google is able to search over 4 billion web pages, and most queries come back with tens of thousands of results, a Googlewhack is no small numerical event. The search for Googlewhacks is time-consuming and can be addictive, especially for fans of probability and language. For Dave Gorman, it is exactly the new obsession to keep him from writing his novel. Now turned onto the game of finding Googlewhacks--and following up by emailing a website's owner to let them know they have a Googlewhack on their page--Gorman becomes intrigued by the people he is now discovering, as behind every website there is at least one person, with some interest or identity they are posting for the world to possibly browse. Corresponding with these strangers, found amongst the billions of Internet pages, Gorman envisions a chain of Googlewhack connections--in which a person he has found by a Googlewhack is then prompted to find two more Googlewhacks and on and on it goes. When another Dave Gorman--who our Gorman befriended on his Are You Dave Gorman? adventure--challenges him to find and meet an unbroken chain of 10 Googlewhacks before his 32nd birthday, a new world-spanning quest begins.
With his 32nd birthday only a few months away (the age at which, he thinks, he must truly grow up and stop doing these things) Gorman travels to meet the people that his Google searches have put into his sights, and get them to Googlewhack to continue the chain and his adventure. The result is an international race against the calendar.
Energetically on the front of his feet the whole show, Gorman is an enthusiastic and wonderfully entertaining storyteller. Though he has already toured this story around the world, he relates it to the audience as if he just got back, and they are the friends in the pub who he just couldn't wait to tell it to first. Drawing on his skills as a stand-up comic, he gets the audience liking him and comfortable laughing at him right away. Throughout the performance, he rapidly clicks through projections of graphics and photographs to make details and characters vivid, and reinforce the fact that this is a true story.
Since the rules of the game he is playing give him very little control over where he will go next, his adventure becomes an exploration of how a device like a search engine can sift through a world of individuals and the expressions of themselves they put online. And it is remarkable throughout how many people--when contacted by Gorman, a stranger to them on his absurd journey--will meet him, play along, and often even take him into their homes. There are probably many philosophical levels that could be seen in Gorman's adventure, as it touches on subjects such as fate, chance, and the signal of personal connection amongst all the noise of information. But really, by the end, I found myself enjoying the journey too much to think of any of that, and just rooting for him to win.
David DelGrosso, NYTheatre.com
"I need other people," says the dynamic English storyteller Dave Gorman in his latest nonfictional comic monologue. "Without other people, life is insufferable to me." Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure is performed solo, but it is stuffed with so many supporting characters that Gorman rarely seems alone. The show chronicles the roller-coaster escapades - including some 70,000 miles of world travel - that ensued after a friend challenged him to create a daisy chain of ten people through the Internet game known as Googlewhacking: the search for two words that, when entered into the Google search engine, yield exactly one website. After a futile period of resistance, Gorman devoted himself full-time to this screwball quest, in part to avoid working on a novel. (Obsessive/procrastination, for the record, is nowhere near a Googlewhack.)
The most obvious lessons to be gleaned from this globe-trotting story are (a) do not dare Dave Gorman to do things and (b) please, for God's sake, please do not get him drunk. (I won't spoil the hilarious surprises that justify the emphasis on the latter.) What makes Gorman's elaboration of his own idiosyncracies so engrossing, despite their occasional indulgence, is his obvious delight in the peculiarities of others; he describes nearly all of the people he meets during his travels as "lovely". His generous picaresque, spiced with bizarre coincidences, celebrates both the excitement of exploring the furthest corners of the Internet and the pleasure of discovering that, despite its multiplying complexities, it's a small world after all.
Adam Feldman, Time Out New York
There's No Telling Just How Good One-Man 'Googlewhack' Show Is
I can't tell you much about "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure," even though I attended the opening Tuesday night of its two-week Cleveland run at the Hanna Theatre in Playhouse Square, and for two reasons:
A) To do so would ruin the jokes, the plot, the story line, the whole two-hour thing, which by the way is completely true, except for the distorted second law of thermodynamics; and
B) If I did, I surmise from the sometimes-violent animation he displays onstage that the British comedian and author would hunt me down, and I might not ever get up again.
I can't take the license to tell you, for instance, what happened to Gorman - a drinking man with the manner of a bookish soccer hooligan - in Austin, Texas, though in the telling he tattooed the details of it upon my brain forever.
I can't tell you of his Scotch adventures on New Year's Eve in Heathrow Airport, but I can assure you my brain aches and my stomach churns in sympathy with the account he gave that still hangs over my consciousness.
I can't inform you of the Internet game he became consumed by, the pounds he spent (which weren't actually his) pursuing a silly bet, nor the tens of thousands of miles he traveled engineering a way to try to win it.
I can't tattle on just how obsessive he is, but let's just say he's gone out of his way - way, way out of his way - to meet more guys - many, many more guys - named Dave Gorman.
I can't begin to describe the book he didn't write (or the one he did), novel as it was, nor beard the topic of his publisher or his agent, nor describe his ratty reaction to a certain national capital along the Potomac, nor describe a flight to a certain state capital he was told lay between Boston and Washington but actually can be found between Cleveland and Cincinnati.
I can't dog his steps as he stumbled into the World Wide Web trap in which he found himself nor describe the women with pets he saw along the way. But I can tell you about a solitary man, armed with little more than his wallet, his passport, his cell phone and his PowerPoint computer program, who captivated a small but constantly smiling and often guffawing audience with a tale of an unlikely journey across the globe and deep into the psyche.
I can urge you to get out of the house and away from your computer (as far away as possible, if you know what's good for you) and to get to the theater to bear witness to one of the most whimsical, profane and marvelous evenings you'll ever spend amongst a bunch of people you may think you don't know but may actually be separated from by fewer degrees of Web site-hopping than you could possibly imagine.
And I can offer this advice:
A) Don't try what Gorman does at home, or you could wind up thousands of miles from that home, on your birthday, in Sydney, or China, or that nasty national capital, giving personal advice to a sexually confused man you don't even know; and
B) You will love whacking your Google, or having your Google whacked for you. And you won't regret - nor does Gorman - having done so.
Googlewhacker has hit in zany one-man show
Tale of slackerdom, cultural spelunking at Hanna Theatre
Talented storyteller Dave Gorman's globe-trotting tale is so weird, it's cool.
With just himself and a PowerPoint presentation as his instruments, the manic British comedian holds audiences' attention for two nonstop hours as his tale, Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure, unfolds at the Hanna Theatre.
The entertaining one-man show centers on Gorman's experience as the ultimate slacker, who, in an effort to avoid writing a novel, started playing an obscure Internet game called googlewhacking that led him to search for strangers across the globe.
Back in 2002, comedian Gorman found out by chance that his Web site contained a googlewhack -- a combination of two disparate words that resulted in only one Web site hit on a Google search. The words were Francophile/namesakes.
Googlewhacking was new to Gorman. But through a series of what he called accidental circumstances, Gorman ended up accepting the challenge to meet 10 googlewhacks (people whose Web sites contained a googlewhack) in a row. Each googlewhack he met would in turn come up with two more googlewhacks he would pursue meeting.
The challenge sent Gorman across the globe the equivalent of three times in eight weeks, with Gorman's self-imposed deadline to meet 10 googlewhacks before his 32nd birthday.
Folks he met ranged from an Australian physicist in Washington, D.C., to an octagenarian creationist in California. Odd googlewhacks he met included rarebit/nutters, dauphin/gormandise and hydroids/souvlaki.
This comedian's story contains such an improbable string of events, it must be for real. Gorman insists every word is true: If he were creative enough to make up such a story, he would have written his novel in the first place.
Bright comic talent
Gorman has documented his strange journey with numerous photos. This guy with the scruffy little beard comes across as spastic when speaking in a high-pitched tone. But he uses great vocal variety, at times ranting in a booming voice worthy of any Shakespearean thespian (or at least an angry pirate).
The comedian's tempo has effective variety, too. He makes the 10-person googlewhacking challenge seem like a pyramid scheme with his diagram charts. And he sounds like an auctioneer when he zips through a string of googlewhacks he met in the chain, with images of their little heads popping up on his diagrams.
Gorman's story has its share of angst. He keeps insisting to his friends ``I'm a grownup!'' which is why he grew a beard at age 31. But during his travels, when he looks at himself in mirror and sees his ``grown-up'' beard, he doesn't like what he sees.
It takes this zany quest to China, Australia, the United States, France and more to help Gorman get his head screwed on straight. The story's full of interesting coincidences as well as twists and turns.
My only concern is this: Once the press started writing about Gorman and friends' googlewhacks, references to those particular word combinations started showing up on numerous Web sites, making their unique googlewhack status null and void. So as Gorman tells his story in his current show, how does he show the googlewhacks as single Google results on his laptop?
He may be taking creative license with his PowerPoint graphics. Or, maybe he captured the Web pages of single Google results years ago, after he and his pals found the unique word combinations and before the rest of the world knew about them.
There are countless ways to waste time on the internet, one of which is to enter a two-word search into Google with the intent of generating only one hit. Dave Gorman, a British comedian and author, decided to start Googlewhacking one day instead of starting to write a novel, and it sent him of on a side-splittingly funny journey that forms the structure of this show.
Delivered engagingly with a rapid-fire pace, aided by witty PowerPoint graphics and grainy photos, the monologue never becomes tiresome, even after two hours.
Gorman tracks down the people behind the hits and uses them to generate more Googlewhacks, all in response to a beer-besotted wager with a friend that he couldn't actually meet 10 such individuals before his next birthday.
Even with all the laughs precipitated as much by Gorman's loony intensity as the startling surprises that lurk around every corner of his tale, there are a couple of tender and reflective moments that almost elevate the work beyond a slight comic gem. It may be a one-joke premise, but this is a cracking good time.
Don't try this at home. Try it at work instead. Dave Gorman began his career as a Googlewhacker while shirking work on a novel he'd been paid a chunky advance to write, and it proved to be an excellent way to waste time and, eventually, a lot of the money his unsuspecting publisher had showered on him. Beats working!
Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure ends a 14 show run Sunday at the Hanna Theatre in Playhouse Square. Gorman, a Brit with a manic run-on-sentence sort of mind, shares the stage with a PowerPoint presentation for nearly two hours that whiz by as he tells his tale of Internet synchronicity and tens of thousands of miles traveled to meet people he discovered through Googlewhacking.
Should you type two words into the Google search engine and come up with only one hit, you have found a Googlewhack. Gorman discovered it when he received an e-mail informing him that he was a Googlewhack - his name appeared on a Web page another Googlewhacker had summoned up - and he was launched on his obsessive way.
The show runs without a hitch, save for those programmed in as part of the entertainment. Seating at the Hanna, whose row seats have been replaced by cabaret-style tables and chairs, remains the strange and uncomfortable, but once Gorman gets up to speed, all that is forgotten. This is one of those rare shows where you're happy there's no intermission.
Last Chance To Whack The Google
In addition to having one of the highest stock prices of the surviving internet companies, Google has also spawned a cultural (and often comedic) revolution that makes Thomas Paine look like a stick in the mud. Currently appearing at the Napa Valley Opera House, comedian Dave Gorman has forged a new career from one of the most esoteric of endeavours: The Googlewhack. While it sounds like a cross between a Mafia vendetta and... well, something silly - it is immensely silly, and extremely entertaining. Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure closes here on Sunday, August 28th at the Napa Valley Opera House but has charmed and delighted local audiences. Fans of great comedy shouldn't miss the opportunity to see his unique presentation.
And Now For Something Else Completely Different From England
Procrastination becomes a form of art in Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! adventure, which opened at the Napa Valley Opera House Tuesday for a two-week run.
It's a strange show, a bizarrely funny dual journey: One follows Gorman's self-imposed quest to track down Googlewhacks around the world; the other is a trek into the tortuous labyrinths of the minds of the computer obsessed.
Gorman begins his nearly two hour monologue (without intermission) by relating how, until the age of 30 his claim to fame was a project whereby he had used the computer to track down other Dave Gormans around the world.
Deciding it was time to be taken seriously, he assigned himself two projects. He would grow a beard and write a novel. He did succeed in growing a beard and even secured an advance to write his novel. There, however, he met his nemesis in the form of a computer.
Most writers deal with the demons of distraction, and describe how they discover they will vacuum their rugs, rearrange their books and take their cats for a walk before they sit down to write. For Gorman, it was the Internet that stood in the way between him and his artistic creation. "My computer contains everything in the whole wide world," he explained. "I find everything in the whole wide world distracting."
In particular it was an e-mail message that arrived for him from an unknown person in Australia, telling him he was a Googlewhack that doomed him. Suspecting it might be a weird Australian insult, he investigated and learned that a Googlewhack is in fact a combination of two words that, when entered into the Google search engine, produces only one hit, instead of the usual 456,789.
Intrigued, he set to work to find a Googlewhack and eventually came up with: dork tarnspit. This combination of words turned up on one of the 3 billion Google searches, on the Web site of a man named Marcus. Gorman e-mailed this man to tell him he was a Googlewhack, and from there it was downhill, at least as far as his writing career was concerned.
In lively detail this possibly demented Englishman describes how he took up a challenge from a friend (another Dave Gorman from his previous project) to see if he could meet a chain of 10 Googlewhacks.
Unlike another eccentric Britisher, Gorman's peculiar quest did not take him around the world in 80 days, but rather all over the place in two months, at the end of which he had accidentally spent his advance.
His speed sometimes approaches that of a high speed Internet connection as he relates his adventures, which brought him in contact with, among others, a San Diego creationist, a bisexual Australian and a Texas tattoo artist.
People ask him if it's true, he told the audience. "I tell them if I was any good at making things up, I'd have written a novel."
Instead he created this show, which he has taken around the world. After 150 performances he was able to pay the publishers back his advance.
The show is certainly entertaining and Gorman is an engaging, energetic performer. The show, however, is not a family show, but more of a Comedy Central creation, without the bleeps, suitable for high school kids but not younger.
Googlewhack: First show is a good one
AURORA - My very first theater review and the editors gave me a tough starting assignment.
I have to review Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, playing tonight, and all weekend, at the Copley Theater in Aurora. It's a challenge because you probably saw the name — Googlewhat? — and thought, "Um, I don't know about this one."
So, my challenge is to get you into the theater, because this is an excellent show — a hilarious, two-hour tour of Gorman's true, around-the-world adventure to find others who can appreciate the simple beauty of meeting conjectural brainworms or talking to a couple with a babyproofed videocassette.
And you don't have to know a megabyte from a motorbike to appreciate Gorman's tale — the one-man show has nothing, almost nothing, to do with computers.
So to get you there, maybe it will help if I tell you how Gorman began his adventure.
This odd monologue starts with major book publishers offering a contract to Gorman, who at that point was best known for organizing a party for 25 other Dave Gormans and growing immaculate facial hair.
Apparently, that was enough for the publisher, who gave him a $10,000 advance on the forthcoming novel.
And that's where this googlewhacking nonsense comes in.
Googlewhacking is pretty much a game for computer nerds ... and brain-cramped, potentially in-over-their-head wannabe novelists so desperate to put off writing Chapter One that they've considered cleaning.
And that's just who Dave Gorman is.
While agonizing over starting his book, a random person informed Gorman he was a googlewhack. Or, more accurately, Gorman's Web site was.
By entering two diverse and totally unrelated words (like Francophile namesakes) into an Internet search engine called Google, someone came up with his — and only his — Web site.
Suddenly, Dave Gorman found something beautifully curious in googlewhacking. Since Google can literally scan billions of Web pages, what are the chances you'll come back with only one?
Not good, but a little better if you're putting in things like fingerpicking brainchilds, teensy superatoms, schoolchilds teepee, whiskery skysurfing, oh yeah, and profane snaggletooths and babyproofed videocassettes.
They're all googlewhacks.
As I said, this is truly a game for the desperate, failing novelists.
But that's just who Dave Gorman became.
After finding his own set of googlewhacks, Gorman flew out to meet these unique people and somehow along the way, found a lot about human nature and himself. But I hesitate to reveal more about his quest other than it somehow managed to take him through the dust bins of a flea market, China and Wrigley Field. The twists are too much fun to spoil.
Gorman says American audiences compare his show to the writings of essayist David Sedaris, and there is definitely some of that flavor. But his style is more like Bill Cosby's, a glimpse into a stream of strange situations and unexpected true characters; a long hilarious, tale with no obvious punch lines, but steady laughs.
So, if this review has gone on a little long, it's probably because I was startled by how much I liked the show. And since this is my virgin review effort, and I don't have a clue how to end it, I'll just tell you two things I learned from my experience.
One, it's hard to take notes in a theater. I was laughing and it was very dark. I have a whole new respect for Roger Ebert.
Second, when you're a "theater critic," they'll give you free admission. Pretty sweet.
But, for Googlewhack Adventure, I would have gladly bought my own ticket, and plan on doing just that this weekend. So, I'll see you there — unless I run into those fingerpicking brainchilds who enjoy whiskery skysurfing first.
What? Dave Gorman'sGooglewhack Adventure.
No, really what? One man's very humorous tale of traveling the world to meet random people found on the internet.
For kids? There's a few curse words, but otherwise people of all ages will like the show.
Do I have to know computers? If you can't find the on switch, you'll still like the show.
Gorman takes his Googlewhack Adventure to Aurora.
Dave Gorman is a household name -- in hipper households, at least -- in Britain and Australia. A cross of Michael Palin, Eddie Izzard, Dave Eggers and Steve Jobs, this quixotic nerd is known for best-selling books and a BBC series that involves the peculiar British passion for elaborately silly capers -- such as, in Gorman's case, traveling the world looking for other people named Dave Gorman.
His U.K. tour sold every ticket. He's played the Sydney Opera House, sold out the Melbourne Comedy Festival, drew long lines at the Edinburgh Festival.
But on Wednesday night -- when a tiny audience showed up for Gorman's Aurora opening -- it felt as if the man had all the appeal of a Googlewhack.
A term of dubious origin, a Googlewhack requires some explanation. It's a term referencing what happens when a Google user -- preferably a Google user with some other pressing deadline such as writing a review -- sticks two words in the ubiquitous search engine and comes back with just one hit. Not 46,896 hits in 0.002 seconds, as is typical. Not no hits at all. Just one. That's a Googlewhack.
Obviously, this game requires two relatively obscure and completely unconnected words. In this one-man-and-a-laptop show, Gorman describes such Googlewhacks as Unreconstructed Superegos and Alligator Peristyles and Rarebit Nutters. But since he's done this show all over the world, those words now are no longer Googlewhacks. Googlewhacks are like organic produce. People mess them up.
I just spent the last several hours in fresh but futile Googlewhacking -- online dictionaries are the main impediment. I thought I had one an hour or so ago, but I had misspelled one of the words -- which will come as no surprise to my editors. Suffice it to say, Googlewhacking is hard. But I take solace in the fact that had I just written a new Googlewhack here, the moment this page hit the Internet (as it now has, in various guises), it no longer would be a Googlewhack anyway. A beautiful Googlewhack is a fleeting thing.
Gorman's game -- illustrated onstage by slides and a PowerPoint presentation -- was suggested by another of those Dave Gormans. It involved finding a Googlewhack, clicking on the site that provided the aforementioned Googlewhack, personally visiting someone connected with the site (i.e. getting on a plane), having the person Googlewhack for you, visiting the site he or she then finds, and so on and so on. Gorman set himself the challenge of putting together a chain of 10 organically linked Googlewhacks before his 32nd birthday. Why? He had a deadline for something else.
It took him all over the world. But did he make it? To reveal more would spoil his show.
If there's a funnier, smarter piece of comedy about the Internet -- especially its propensity to make peculiar random connections and suck away gobs and gobs of our time -- then I haven't seen it.
"Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure" might sound silly, overly adolescent and best suited to nerds without dates (it's guilty as charged on all three counts), but Gorman is uproariously funny and deeper points do lurk. Google search terms, Gorman points out in his 90-minute monologue, make up a huge part of how some of us get all our information. And the connections made by a search engine are hardly intuitive. But they're still changing the way we think.
Gorman is in Aurora only through Sunday. Drive along Interstate Highway 88, and you can see members of the ideal audience, pecking away at their terminals in their really big buildings, probably pretending to work, probably Googling their lives away. Gorman has their number, and he'd make 'em laugh -- if they can be persuaded to ever leave the office.
Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune.
'Googlewhack!' Hits plenty Of Laughs
In our culture of affluence and ease, no obsession is too trivial. Take Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure, a one-man comedy show based on Googlewhacking, a sort of game in which you try to find the rare two-word Google search that yields one, and only one, hit.
Example: Type "agritourist papacy" into google.com, and you will find exactly one Web site. (Incidentally, this is not one of the Googlewhacks mentioned in the show. If you type in "bamboozled panfish," you now get dozens of hits, many of them reviews of Gorman. Come to think of it, pretty soon "agritourist papacy" will probably lead to this review. Aaaaanyway . . .
Gorman's show, of course, isn't really about Googlewhacking, it's about Dave Gorman. After all, the British performer's first stage hit was Are You Dave Gorman?, about his quest to meet everyone in the world who shared his name. In his latest offering, he relates his attempt to build a "chain" of 10 Googlewhacks, each invented by the person he discovered on the Web via the last serendipitous pairing of words.
We won't spoil the fun by repeating the funniest bits. Suffice it to say there are plenty of laughs built on Gen-X angst, amazing coincidences and a clever PowerPoint presentation, which includes photographic evidence of the comedian's amazing journey. Through it all, Gorman's rapid-fire London lilt boosts the charm factor: He may be a world-class narcissist, but he's a pretty darned likable one.
Kerry Lengel, The Arizona Republic.
Gorman Shares Speedy 'Google' Trip (3.5 out of 4)
To make a long story short, "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure" is a travelogue delivered at warp speed with humor and a dash of pique.
From Jan. 1 to March 1, 2003, the British wit traveled nearly 90,000 miles trying to win an elaborate bet he made with Dave Gorman. Not himself. Another Dave Gorman who lives in France.
The trip started with Gorman, a Londoner, waking up with a tremendous hangover in Heathrow Airport, passport in one shirt pocket, round-trip ticket to Washington, D.C., in the other.
Getting to that point in Gorman's 1¾-hour show, playing at the Meyer Theatre, takes a lot of build-up.
Clearing the path to the adventure, Gorman has to cut through tall weeds: The Internet, Google search engine, Googlewhack and what it means and how he fell into a compulsion to chase after the bet as a diversion from writing a novel.
For the record, Googlewhack is a word game. Type two unrelated words into the Google search engine "alligator peristyles" from the show, for example and if you come up with only one hit, that's a Googlewhack.
You don't have to understand this to "get" the show. Gorman's show is about where the results take him.
The farther Gorman gets into the show, the faster he talks. After all, he's got those 90,000 miles to cover plus all the wonderful (mostly) people, all strangers, he met through amazing connections.
There's a physicist in Washington, D.C., whose girlfriend gives him a strange-looking toy she has just found, a Teeny Christmas Google.
The physicist connects him with a Googlewhack in Boston, where he goes for what he thinks is a wild party but is a clean-cut family gathering. The Boston Googlewhack connects him to someone in Columbus, Ohio. On he goes, sometimes to dead ends.
As Gorman travels, he snaps pictures of the people he's met. They're part of the show, as are maps and oddball graphs.
The sometimes salty Gorman sidetracks to vent about Duane Gish, a creationist in San Diego. He calls Gish "brilliant but almost always wrong." Later in the show, through another amazing connection, he gets more whacks at Gish.
Most of the time, Gorman met open, generous people eager to invite something new and different into their life.
By the end, the audience has been taken to exotic spots and through exotic ideas by someone who lives life full tilt.
Warren Gerds, Green Bay Press Gazette
It's A World Wide Web, But It's A Small World
British comedian Dave Gorman's agent told him that to write a novel he needed only "you, your imagination, and your computer." Technically true, but writing a novel isn't all you can do with those three things. You could, for instance, travel around the world on a half-baked plan to connect the disparate owners of off-beat Web pages.
This is what Gorman did.
He did not write a novel.
He did get paid (in advance) to write a novel, which provided the funding for the aforementioned not-writing-a-novel. He chronicles that journey in his documentary one-man stage show, "Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure," a brilliant, humanistic tale of procrastinating, enabling, and side-splitting storytelling.
This peripatetic formula was used previously by Gorman in "Are You Dave Gorman?," for which he attempted (through extensive travel) to meet 54 other Dave Gormans. Playing now at The Moore Theatre, "Googlewhack!" turned out to be, among other things, a similar financial success — through which he paid back the advance for his novel.
For the uninitiated, Googlewhacking involves two words that, when Googled simultaneously, result in a single Web page — the Googlewhack. It's easy to see how a person could lose time to this pursuit — an hour of this writer's research resulted in only one successful whack (microcystis breakdancing) and many near misses.
When Gorman discovered that his own Web site was a Googlewhack, he discovered others, then e-mailed them, then met them. Given Gorman's penchant for extremes (and habit of purchasing airline tickets while intoxicated) the final result was a six-degrees-inspired international vision-quest.
Despite the inherent geekiness of a show about search engines, the charm of "Googlewhack!" lies in the fact that Gorman is not inherently geeky. He is, in fact, almost hyper-social. He seemingly befriends (and photographs) nearly everyone he meets. If you had a nickel for every time he says, "I love these people!" in the show, you'd have a hefty pocket full of change.
Thus, we discover that the show is not really about word games — nor even really, about procrastinating. Mostly, it's about the incredible smallness of the world, the kindness of strangers, and fate — big words and obscure Web pages only move things along a bit.
You'll notice there are few details of plot included here: Gorman entreats his audiences not to reveal too much of his journey. Suffice it to say that the details are both fantastic and believable, and that the revelations of his "Googlewhack! Adventure" are well worth the vow of secrecy.
Leah B. Green, The Seattle Times
British people are better than us. They're smarter, funnier, less fat, and more drunk. They wear hats, they don't shoot people, and they've never heard of intelligent design. British people grant wishes. They're magic.
Dave Gorman is a British person, known for such high-concept experiments as the book/play/TV series Are You Dave Gorman? (regarding his travels around the globe in search of other Dave Gormans) and BBC2's Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment (in which he followed his horoscope to the letter for 40 days and 40 nights). Gorman's current solo show, Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, chronicles an all-new batshit-crazy globe-trotting quest: his search for the elusive googlewhack.
If you enter two words into Google and find only one result, that result - the only website on earth and in heaven containing both of those words - is a googlewhack. It's a surprisingly difficult and addictive undertaking (after an hour of searching, I came up with only two: teleologically porking and dystopic aardwolves, and I'm not even sure that 'porking' is a word).
Dave Gorman's foray into googlewhackery began when a friend challenged him to come up with 10 consecutive googlewhacks (find a googlewhack, meet that website's proprietor, have him find two more, meet one of those and so on) by his 32nd birthday. He accepted.
Googlewhack is corny at times, and a bit contrived, but Gorman's preternatural British charisma and storytelling powers transcend gimmick. Gorman says ridiculously charming things like "preposterous people make for preposterously good company" and offers interesting commentary on our nations prevailing craziness (creationism is "cock of the poppiest variety"). There's something poignant, too - the beauty of coincidence, the smallness of the world, and the sheer pointlessness of the journey. Googlewhack is the funniest show I've seen all year and Dave Gorman is a magical British comedy elf. Seriously, don't miss it.
Lindy West, The Stranger
An Absurd Quest Turns Up Comic Treasure
If more evidence were needed that Google has effectively taken over the modern world, it can be delightfully found at Harbourfront Centre's Lakeside Terrace for the next few nights. There, a British comic has brought his highly successful, one-man touring show -- Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure -- to Toronto's World Stage festival. For roughly 80 minutes, speaking at times at gigahertz speed, Gorman chronicles the extraordinary tale of how he flew thousands of kilometres around the world attempting to meet Googlewhacks.
I thought you'd never ask: A Googlewhack, strictly speaking, is a conjunction of two otherwise unconnected words that, when typed into Google's omniscient search engine, turn up a single hit -- for example, "unconstructive superegos" or "dork turnspit." By default, the owner of the site also becomes identified as a Googlewhack.
In a universe of more than three-billion websites, finding Googlewhacks is less easy than you might imagine, and you can waste a serious amount of valuable time (trust me on this) trying.
In other words, the exercise is a kind of meaningless game. Or was, until the energetic Gorman entered the picture. A few years ago, having consumed more than a few pints, he agreed to a preposterous challenge -- to locate and meet 10 consecutive Googlewhacks before he turned 32 years old. In other words, in only eight weeks.
As it happens, Gorman was an ideal candidate for this quixotic pursuit. He likes to travel, genuinely enjoys meeting people and seemed to be looking for a good excuse not to write the novel he had committed himself to write.
A few years earlier, on a similar kind of lark, he embarked on a quest to find and meet 54 other people all named Dave Gorman. He turned that into a stage show as well.
Coincidentally -- and what are the odds of this? -- one of those other Dave Gormans he met (a Canadian by birth) turns up in this show as well, as another Googlewhack.
In other civilizations, Gorman might well have been a man who devoted his life to travelling the globe in search of the Northwest Passage or the Holy Grail. No doubt it says something about the world we now inhabit that our expeditions are devoted to verifying the existence of absurd constructs like Googlewhacks, based essentially on random collisions in cyberspace.
It is Gorman's genius to both acknowledge the absurdity of his alcohol-induced mission and mine it exhaustively for its comic value. Hugely likable, and with total mastery of his material, he recounts his Googlewhacking exploits with infectious enthusiasm, flawless timing and the passion of a man singularly possessed. In the course of his monologue, we meet (through his slide-show presentations) several of the Googlewhacks he met, including Marcus, whose hobby is collecting photographs of women and dogs, an 81-year-old creationist in San Diego, and a closet homosexual in Australia. Gorman tries to befriend them all (though he does have a few problems with creationism).
Although his show would clearly not be possible without the existence of Google and the technology from which it sprang, it is in other ways a very old-fashioned show: one man telling a story to entertain. And he certainly does.
There is no limit to the ways humans will find to waste their time. And it is next to impossible to underestimate our need to connect with our fellow humans. In our lifetimes, those two seemingly independent concepts dovetailed nicely in a development called the Internet.
And they are the thematic twin poles of Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure, a hilarious and inherently touching monologue by, yes, Dave Gorman which continues at the Harbourfront Centre World Stage: Flying Solo fest until tomorrow.
By all evidence a true story (we're shown ticket stubs, receipts and photos via Powerpoint), Gorman's tale is one of the strangest and most wonderfully pointless adventures ever told on a stage. It involves a concept called Googlewhacking -- wherein one finds two disparate words -- "coelacanth" and "sharpener," say -- which when run through the Google search engine will produce only one page out of the three billion possibilities.
Or as it says in Google "Results 1-1 of 1."
(Note: Having googled those words myself, I note that they are no longer a googlewhack).
That this should become an obsession of Gorman's isn't surprising. As the British writer notes, he once became obsessed with finding as many Dave Gormans around the world as he could -- collecting 50 of them for a group photo in London. (One of those Dave Gormans -- a Torontonian no less, now living in France -- figures in Googlewhack! Adventure when he turns up all over again in the author's life as a googlewhack ( "dork" plus "turnspit" -- As Gorman says, "What are the odds?")
The Canadian Dave Gorman is the catalyst, challenging and nagging the British Dave Gorman to follow through on his googlewhackery, to meet his googlewhacks, wherever in the world they may be, and get them to produce more googlewhacks for him to follow for a daisychain of 10.
Not merely the tale of an inane stunt, Googlewhack! Adventure carries some interesting themes as it tumbles out of Gorman's mouth. His reluctance to carry the stunt through springs from his stated desire at age 31 to become an adult, to which end he grows a beard and obtains a publisher's advance to write a book. Of the latter, he says, "The idiots actually gave me money, that's no way to get me working."
Except that misspent money became the grubstake that financed his adventure -- about which I will say little except that it takes him to several countries, prevailing upon the hospitality of all sorts of people, from an 81-year-old Creation scientist to a fellow who collects innocent photos of women and their dogs to a married man with a secret gay life as a Kylie Minogue fan. There are at least two alcohol-induced blackouts en route.
What's startling and really downright heartwarming is how few brushoffs Gorman receives. He's welcomed and even billeted with warmth and enthusiasm by complete strangers on the basis of an e-mail. (The bulk of this story took place five or so years ago, a period when the 'Net did seem a friendlier place. These days, my favourite usenet groups and forums are dominated by the kind of people who don't want to be found -- "trolls" and hatemongers mostly.)
Gorman's tale is fairly labyrinthine (that chain of 10 includes a number of false starts). A naturally fast talker, he relates it in a machinegun torrent of words that can leave the listener dazed. Nonetheless, he has deft comic timing, and his passion is such that it isn't long before the audience is bitten by the googlewhack bug too.
A Wild, Far Google Ride.
Do you remember the joy you felt the first time you discovered surfing the Net? Well, that giddy sense of discovery, that sheer unconnected pleasure of hopping from place to place, can be yours again if you go see Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure, playing until Sunday as part of World Stage's "Flying Solo" Festival.
Let's get the explanation over with first. What's a Googlewhack? It's when you enter two words into the search engine Google and find out that there's only one web page in the entire universe that contains that combination of terms.
One day, someone sent British monologist Dave Gorman an email telling him there was a Googlewhack on his website and that's how it all started. For reasons too complicated to get into here, Gorman bet a friend that he could find 10 Googlewhacks before his next birthday.
But he didn't just have to find them, he actually had to meet the people behind the pages in question and each one of them had to lead him to the next Google-icious subject.
It wound up taking Gorman around the world, criss-crossing the skies like a demented flight attendant and covering over 150,000 kilometres in just two months. The story he tells is fascinating on several levels, both for the random nature of the people and places he visits (would you believe an 82-year-old creationist in San Diego?) as well as for the gradual insight we get into the quirky and compelling Gorman.
As a performer, Gorman has a unique persona. With his wild eyes, close-cropped hair and scraggly beard, he darts around the stage like a defrocked monk with Attention Deficit Disorder. He possesses an enviable ability to speak with rapidity and clarity that he often utilizes to spectacular effect.
And as a writer, Gorman knows how to make the truth seem more riveting than any fiction by selecting his details with care and understanding just when to withhold or reveal information.
Just like any extended session on the Net, there are times when things slow down and you might wonder why you've gone to a page that takes too long to load. But then, Gorman gets his connection working at high speed again and you buzz along, blissfully out of control.
I haven't revealed too many specifics of Gorman's saga, because part of the fun of this piece is in discovering each twist and turn on your own as it happens.
There's a lot of wit, a touch of righteous rage and even a surprisingly touching denouement. The fact that an Internet search engine ties it all together makes it a perfect show for our cybersociety and a sure-fire bet for your entertainment dollar.
If you're reading this on the internet, chances are you know what a Googlewhack is. Briefly, you go to Google.com and enter two words into the search box. If you see "Results 1-1", you've found exactly one hit- a Googlewhack (word lists don't count). You can imagine that this is a rare happening, roughly one in three million.
When Dave Gorman found out that his own web page contained a Googlewhack, you can imagine his reaction of fascination. Once he discovered it wasn't anything to do with bits of his body or a bad Australian insult, he set out, on a bet, to find others.
This terrific one-man show is Gorman's quest to meet ten Googlewhacks in person, in a row, wherever they may reside. In the hands of someone else this could still be a quite interesting lecture. In the hands of master-storyteller-comedian Gorman, it is a show you won't want to miss. The show is current, accessible, charming, fresh, and immediate. He obviously loves this true story and finds joy in the retelling. His vocal qualities are fun, his multi-media presentation a silly delight. You desperately want to know how it all turns out, but you don't want it to end.
Most of all, you want to go home and find your own Googlewhack the minute you walk through the door.
The name conjures up images of a Sopranos hitman icing an Australian goof or, perhaps, a pair of exotic beasts in heat. But Googlewhack is much more frightening than the aforementioned. It is about the infinite possibilities provided by the Internet and Google search engine, plus the lengths that some loons will go to in search of thrills
Yet even Luddites will love Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure, now at The Centaur.
First, a word about it's creator: Dave Gorman is a most unsettled human, which is actually a wonderful quality in the wide world of comedy. In the past, the London-based wit has amused himself by tracking down 54 other Dave Gormans, inviting them all to a party and having them star in his very own TV series.
This scheme evidently endeared him to a renowned publishing house which gave Gorman, to his shock, a healthy cash advance for a novel. Alas, after setting up his laptop, he got struck by cursed writer's block.
All of which led to his Googlewhack Adventure. In doing his darndest to avoid writing any prose, Gorman got wind of an arcane game on the Net. The object of this game is to type two words into the Google search engine and emerge with just one hit. Such as "rarebit nutters." This is a Googlewhack.
Sounds easy? Not quite. There are some 3 billion Web sites.
Sounds strange? You bet.
But is it funny enough to sustain a one-man stage show for nearly two hours? Astonishingly yes. Perhaps even longer.
But be aware that the show is more than the uncovering of clever but bizarre Googlewhacks like "noneuclidean ocelot" - which my fevered mind emerged with following a crude scientific experiment involving vodka.
You see, in his continued efforts to shirk penning his book, Gorman decided to embark upon a wacky odyssey. He would meet the humans responsible for inadvertently creating these Googlewhacks on their Web sites and travel the world if necessary to achieve this goal - thanks to the generous cash advance for the novel he wasn't writing.
No surprise that Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure was a smash at the Sydney Opera House in Australia or the Edinburgh Festival. It is ingenious. And Gorman the guerrilla artiste has the mandatory manic energy and delightfully twisted humour to bring it all off.
Without giving away what transpires on stage - for it truly does have a plot-line, unhinged though it may be - it can be revealed that Gorman did eventually get a book out of his ordeal. But not the novel the publishing house had commissioned. No sooner did Gorman re-pay the advance to the publisher's fiction department than the non-fiction department engaged him, with a nice cash-incentive, to turn his Googlewhack Adventure into an opus. He did. The book is a best seller. And Gorman has been living happily ever after, knowing that he has been able to distract countless other humans from getting on with their work.
Les aventures d'un procrastinateur
Comme il fait bon de voir un one-man show dont le héros n'essaie pas de régler ses comptes avec l'humanité tout enti ère. Dave Gorman, jeune homme d'une curiosité et d'une vivacité d'esprit sans bornes, carbure à l'autodérision et à la philanthropie, un rare cocktail dans le milieu de l'humour. Avec son savoureux accent british, il raconte comment il a fait le tour du monde à la recherche de 10 googlewhacks.
Mais qu'est-ce qu'un google-whack? La question s'impose. La définition plus encore. Le google-whacking est un jeu qui consiste à taper deux mots dépareillés dans l'engin de recherche Google. Si la paire ne renvoie qu'à un seul site, vous êtes tombé sur un google-whack. Le terme peut également désigner une personne dont le site Web contient un Googlewhack. Le site www.googlewhack.com répertorie pas moins de 380 000 googlewhacks, en anglais seulement. Des exemples: anticonstitutional oatmeal, thickhead litterbug, unsalted celeriacs.
Amateurs de scrabble et cruciverbistes, vous pouvez imaginer à quel point cette activité a le potentiel de créer une dépendance. C'est évidemment ce qui est arrivé à Dave Gorman, procrastinateur de premi ère. L'ennui, c'est qu'il a découvert ce jeu au moment où il venait de signer un contrat chez Random House pour écrire son premier roman. Et comme Dave Gorman n'est pas un accro ordinaire, qu'il est têtu comme une mule et plus excentrique que la reine d'Angleterre, la dépendance a pris une ampleur planétaire.
Connaissez-vous bien des gens qui auraient accepté de faire le tour du monde pour serrer la pince à 54 homonymes (le compte d'un jeu de cartes)? Et tout ça pour relever le défi de son colocataire, Danny! Ensemble, les deux amis ont fait le tour du monde pour réaliser cette aventure qui fut ensuite immortalisée pour la chaîne BBC2. Les six épisodes de The Dave Gorman Collection étaient diffusés en mars et avril 2001.
L'aventure Googlewhack est née de la même mani ère, au moment où Dave Gorman s'y attendait le moins, c'est-à-dire au lendemain de ses 31 ans, début de la maturité chez le jeune mâle alpha. Muni d'une barbe et d'un important contrat d'édition (assorti d'une généreuse avance), le rouquin pensait que ses années d'enfantillages étaient affaire classée. Il n'a fallu qu'une toute petite distraction pour le faire retomber en enfance et lui faire dilapider son allocation. Mis au défi par un des Dave Gorman de sa collection, monsieur poignée de main devait maintenant serrer la pince à 10 Googlewhacks de suite avant la date butoir du 2 mars 2003, jour de son 32e anniversaire.
C'est cette folle équipée qu'il relate dans le spectacle, photos et preuves Web à l'appui. Dave Gorman raconte plus vite que son ombre. Est-ce son débit naturel ou le résultat de sa course folle qui l'a mené dans plusieurs villes des États-Unis, en Angleterre, aux Pays-Bas, en Chine et même en Australie? Il faut bien s'accrocher parce qu'une fois parti, le verbomoteur n'est pas arrêtable. Mais on le suit sans difficulté et avec une rare délectation dans toutes ses péripéties. On s'attache à chacun de ses nouveaux amis, mais surtout à lui, parce qu'il nous rend la plan ète beaucoup plus petite et chaleureuse.
Oh alright... here's the same review en Anglais
The Adventures of a Procrastinator
It is lovely to see a one man show in which the hero doesn't try to sort out the whole of humanity. Dave Gorman is a young man, quick witted with a boundless curiosity, bubbling with philanthropy and an ability to laugh at himself, a rare cocktail in the world of comedy. With his tasty English accent he tells us how he went on a world tour in order to find ten 'Googlewhacks'.
"But what is a 'Googlewhack'?" I hear you ask. Well Googlewhacking is a game you play by typing two unconnected words into the search engine Google. If the pair only give you one site then you have stumbled upon a 'googlewhack'. The term can equally refer to a person whose site contains a 'Googlewhack'. The site www.Googlewhack.com lists at least 380 000 'Googlewhacks' (though only in English) for example: anticonstitutional oatmeal, thickhead litterbug, unsalted celeriacs.
If you're a Scrabble player or a crossword lover you can imagine how adictive this activity could become. That is clearly what happened to leading procrastinator, Dave Gorman. The trouble is he discovered this game at the very moment when he had just signed a contract with Random House to write his first novel and Dave Gorman is anything but your common or garden addict. He is stubborn as a mule and more eccentric than the Queen of England . He was addicted on a global scale.
How many other blokes would have decided to tour the world to shake the hand of 54 namesakes (the number of cards in a pack)? All this to win a bet with his flatmate Danny! Together the two friends travelled the world on this adventure which has subsequently been immortalised by BBC2. The six episodes of "The Dave Gorman Collection" were broadcast in March and April 2001.
The Googlewhack Adventure came about in the same way but at the moment when Dave Gorman least expected it. Shortly after his 31st birthday (the beginning of maturity for a young alpha male). Armed with a beard and an important publishing contract (accompanied by a generous advance) the ginger one thought his childish days were over. It took only a little diversion to make him fall back into his old immature ways as he frittered away all his pocket money. Having been bet by one of the Dave Gormans from his collection, now Mr Handshake had to shake the hand of 10 Googlewhacks in a row before his deadline of 2nd March 2003, his 32nd Birthday.
It is this mad escapade which he relates in the show, supported by photos and screen grabs. Dave Gorman performs at lightening speed. Is this his natural delivery or the result of his mad race which took his to several American cities as well as England, Holland, China and even Australia? You have to hang on because once he starts the wordmachine can't be stopped. However each episode can be followed easily enough and with rare delight. You become attached to each of his new friends and especially to him because he makes the planet much smaller and friendlier.
(many thanks to Rev. Simon Stevens for the translation)
What a show. Wow. British comic Dave Gorman has created something really special with Googlewhack Adventure, a voyage of obsession that makes his last show Are You Dave Gorman? pale by comparison, and raises sincere concerns about whether he pushes himself too far for his craft.
But it is the excessive nature of Gorman's experience - coupled with drum-tight story telling - that takes Googlewhack Adventure and elevates it beyond stand-up comedy and into the realms of performance art. A magnificent folly, Googlewhack Adventure is the story of a man caught in a web of the universe's spinning.
Gorman innocently follows up an email that tells him he is a googlewhack (an internet game where you try and find two words which, when entered into Google, come back with only one hit).
He then finds himself swept away by fate, coincidence and massive bouts of angst as he follows a trail of Googlewhackers around the world and against the clock.
Googlewhack Adventure is exactly that - a rollicking, funny, sometimes disturbing, high-stakes personal journey with slides and the pace of a thriller.
Gorman need not limit himself to comedy festivals with this brilliant, complex show; he could take it anywhere.
Fiona Scott Norman, The Age.
This was a truly brilliant autobiographical piece all about Gorman's fascination with Google... kind of like a theatre version of The Dice Man but a lot funnier and using newer technology. The audience was laughing and cheering... Dave Gorman's show made me feel happy; I came out of the theatre inspired and peppy'
Danny Katz, The Age.
Dave Gorman is in the tradition of the great 19th century explorers - those who embarked on exotic and expensive expeditions, then came back to do slide nights with titles such as Adventures in the Amazon or Travels with the Tutsi.
Two years ago he was in Australia with Are You Dave Gorman?, in which he recounted his epic journey back and forth across the globe in search of people who share his name. His latest adventure started innocently enough when someone emailed him to say his website was a Googlewhack.
Many of you perhaps know what a Googlewhack is. I didn't, but apparently if you type two words into the Google search engine and you only get one hit instead of the usual 12,517, then you have found one. The site you hit on, explains Gorman with the earnestness of a complete nutter, is one of about 3 billion. If the owner of that site then finds a new Googlewhack, again one of 3 billion then what are the odds that when you visit the new site you will find that the owner of it is someone called Dave Gorman, and that you have met him because you once embarked on an epic journey back and forth across the globe, and so on?
This stunning coincidence drew Gorman back - like a retired salt who finds that he must go down to the sea again - to embark on another great quest. He was supposed to be writing a novel, but with fiendish encouragement from his old mate Gorman and using his publisher's advance he set off to find a 10-link chain of Googlewhacks, each new one discovered by the creator of the previous one. He met each website creator and explained his quest, and in the show he documents it all meticulously with screen shots, photographs, graphics and scanned images of his boarding passes as he travelled the world.
I'm supposed to be writing a review of a comedy show here, just as Gorman was supposed to be writing a novel, but you can see I've been distracted by the quest.
The show is very funny but it is more than that. Gorman's adventure is full of drama and surprise - interesting characters, sudden setbacks, crises and moments of triumph. He humanises contemporary cyberculture by travelling to meet real people then reporting back to us.
That was the review. I just got offline. "Comic genius" - 269,000 hits. "English eccentric" - 220,000 hits. "Brilliant comedian" - 43,900 hits. "Meyerholdian Comedian" - Googlewhack!
John McCallum, The Australian.
Dave Gorman is a British comedian. I'm speculating here, but I think he might be potty, too, a single minded, footloose eccentric made from the same stuff as Phileas Fogg in Around The World In Eighty Days. Googlewhack Adventure is Jules Verne's globetrotting race against time refashioned for the age of jet travel and the internet.
The droll storytelling of Gorman's very funny 90 minute solo show is an expression of his somewhat alarming obsessiveness and the foolhardiness of a gambler who takes a crazy bet, then keeps on rolling the dice even when the odds seem to be stacked against him.
But back to Googlewhacking, a silly, time-wasting game played with the Google internet search engine. The aim is to type in two words that come back with a single hit from the more than three billion pages that Google scans.
So far, so sane, if a bit nerdy. The crazy part is that, on a bet, Gorman spent several months crisscrossing the globe, spending the advance he received from a publisher to write a novel, and meeting the people whose locations were generated haphazardly by his Googlewhacking activities.
Among other things, his show is a testament to the oddball sense of community and interconnection created by the internet. Imagine emailing a complete stranger and saying something like, "I'd like to travel halfway around the world to meet you because your website contains a Googlewhack." Mad.
Luckily for him, the mad glint in his eye isn't discernible in an email. Or perhaps, like him, the people he got in touch with were swept along by the spirit of his adventure's sheer folly and absolute pointlessness. He's also effortlessly charming, coming across like your favourite university lecturer, the young, cool, and laid-back one with the good jokes. And his performance includes a slide show, photos of the places he visited with graphs, pie charts and flow diagrams for the more statistically minded.
Googlewhack Adventure skips right past the bulk of stand-up comedy into it's own splendidly daffy and unique niche. It's deft and funny but more often in a whimsical way, not the gag punchline set-up of mother-in-law jokes.
Gorman also knows a thing or two about structuring a monologue: the final lap of his adventure is a cliffhanger that yields a real thrill. Recommended.
A wonderful monologue by a likeable Pom whose life appears to be one strong narrative. What happens when you're told your website has one unique attribute? You undertake a global journey that becomes a fascinatingly funny one-man show.
Quest becomes a magical hysteria tour
Dave Gorman is no prestidigitator. There's no watch me pull a rabbit out of a hat, no pick a card, any card here.
But there is something of the sleight of hand in his new show; Googlewhack Adventure.
It's the sleight of hand of the slick business speaker: the motivational guru who rolls over you with graphs, figures, a torrent of words and the certainty of manner that brooks no indecision until long after he's gone on to his next mark.
Armed with a laptop, a remote control and a big screen upon which he projects photos, texts and the occasional sight gag the scruffy Gorman comes over all Stormin' Norman with a delivery that is relentless, utterly convincing and seducingly funny.
In an hour and a half he convinces you that it's perfectly normal (OK, maybe not normal but strangely understandable) to criss-cross the Atlantic in search of more nebulous connections between individuals whose only link is they came up as a googlewhack. (That is, they have websites that are the only example found out of millions of possible sites when two unconnected words are put into the Google search engine.) As I said, it doesn't bear close scrutiny: like religion, if you believe then nothing else matters. And Gorman's genius is to turn this ultimate time-waster of an exercise into the kind of adventure that makes you want to believe and makes nothing else matter while he has you in his hand.
How does he do it? Partly it's the words chasing each other down dozens of rabbit holes, that turn into warrens that turn into super highways that turn into one big loop-road of the mind. Everything is connected. Forget Kevin Bacon, there are hardly any degrees of separation between an ageing creationist, a collector of photographs of women with their dogs and a Minogue trapped inside a man's body.
And partly it's because without any obvious comic turns, Gorman pulls you through these warrens with increasing hilarity, sometimes verging on the hysterical. He is the everyman stumbling along, driven only by a blind persistence that just one more step will end this and you are dazzled by the sheer persistence and the sheer absurdity of the exercise.
Within the journey there are intriguing turns. When Gorman suddenly turns aggressive and loud - a brief explosion of temper timed perfectly mid-show - it is done for comic effect but it's effective because there is more than a kernel of truth here. You see the angry ant within every mild, accepting man and the almost hypermanic drive that says this quest can and will be done.
Then there's the slowly dawning realisation that Gorman has been making friends and finding the kind of generosity of spirit that is supposed to be all but dead now, its last vestiges strangled by so called impersonal modern communication. Good people are out there, he says; funny people are right here, we find. And that is no trick.
Bernard Zuel, The Sydney Morning Herald.
Have you ever felt like you were going to die... and it's a good thing? There was a moment during Englishman Dave Gorman's show, and I won't give it away as the element of surprise is a dynamic factor, when I almost fell off my chair, and most of the audience was close to expiring from laughter. Yes, that good.
Sporting a very grown-up looking beard (compared with the stylish muttonchops of his last visit), Gorman takes the audience on a whirlwind tour zigzagging the globe on the sort of random quest only the ingenious or the insane would undertake: chasing googlewhacks - an internet search-engine distraction, not the "Australian insult" it may sound.
Those well-versed in the art of procrastination know that alphabetacizing your music collection or indeed doing the crossword can be more important than the job at hand. Gorman (at first reluctantly then with perverse relish) undertakes this supreme diversion when ostensibly commissioned to write a novel, coupled with the financial resources to fund it.
The show is a fascinating, hilarious documentary - complete with a slide show and a powerpoint presentation of absurd statistics - however you get the feeling that even if a thoroughly engrossing stage show wasn't the resulting outcome that this brilliant nutter would be doing it anyway
Kerrie Hickin, Beat Magazine.
This show is a must see. The master of narrative comedy is back with a brand new Googlewhack Adventure. For the uninitiated, a Googlewhack is where you enter two words into the Google search engine, and get only one match. For most this would be a few minutes of fun, but for Gorman, it's the beginning of a comic adventure which takes him to four continents. The humour comes from coincidence, truth and Dave's not inconsiderable charm. Original, fascinating and hilarious, this show will leave you thinking that not all's bad with the world
Richard Cooke, The Chaser.
It's a bearded Dave Gorman who meets us in Melbourne this year. A hit of the festival two years ago, Dave's now turning 32. He's writing a novel, he wants to be taken seriously. But his attempt to grow up is thwarted by a Googlewhack. Driven by unbelievable coincidence and the desire to prove his friends wrong he embarks on another amazing and hilarious adventure. Dave's warped mind takes us through cyberspace and across continents in an audacious race against time in one big ripping yarn in his quest for more Googlewhacks. The slide projector's back and there are maps and snaps, physicists, creationists and women with dogs. So what is a Googlewhack? See the show and find out. You might even make one yourself. 4. - 5 Stars
Melissa Marino, The Sunday Age.
Gorman has packed so much material in that he barely seems able to pause for breath. Instantly likable, Gorman is a consummate storyteller, spinning a great yarn about the most pointless of quests. Like most of the rest of the audience, when I got home I raced to my computer to find my own googlewhack. When I did, I was strangely proud. Gorman's strange obsession seemed suddenly more reasonable.'
Rani Kellock, Inpress
Dave Gorman, it's fair to say, has never been a man to do things by halves. Having raked the planet for his namesakes (Are You Dave Gorman?) and lived several months of his life according to his horoscopes (Dave Gorman's Astrology Experiment), not to mention cultivating more impressive facial hair than the nattiest orthodox Jew, he has truly surpassed himself with his latest festival romp. After all, how many other comedians would travel 130,000km and spend practically two months on a plane in order to fulfil a silly challenge based on a dweeby internet game that, on the surface of it, means very little indeed?
The show's success lies in taking the seemingly innocuous and ultimately pointless activity of googlewhacking and turning it into a nail-biting story so funny and clever and knicker-wettingly thrilling that even the most apathetic of audiences couldn't fail to get drawn in. You could take your sulky teenage brother, your mum, your gran, your best mate, the girl of your dreams and they'd all love it; not bad for a tale named after an internet search engine told with the aid of Powerpoint and graphs.
It's Gorman's unassuming, amiable, pleasingly geeky way of spinning a yarn, coupled with good old fate dropping in Ian Rankinesque plot twists that makes the Googlewhack Adventure so totally enjoyable. It's like Treasure Hunt without the helicopters or Round Ireland With a Fridge minus the fridge, all recalled with the deftness and lightness of touch of a truly world-class storyteller. Best thing of all, though: it's true, every delicious last bit of it. Unmissable.
thrill: Dave's encounter with the loopy Creationists.
spill: Your life will feel boring in comparison. - 5 Stars
Heln Pidd, Fest.
Another year, another bizarre quest. There's a weird, winning logic to Dave Gorman's world. FIVE STARS.
Displacement is a terrible thing. Got some work to do at home? Your kitchen will be spotless. Supposed to be revising for an exam? Better draw up a plan before you start. With big fluorescent pens.
At the end of 2002, Random House gave Dave Gorman a substantial advance to write them a book. As he observes: "If you want me to do something, don't give me the money beforehand". Before starting he cleared his inbox, visited a friend in France and discovered Googlewhacking. This for the uninitiated is when internet search engine Google is given two words and comes up with one website. It's very unlikely. You need to type in phrases like [edited.. if I write the phrases in here they will no longer be googlewhacks]
Soon, against his will, Gorman was on a mission: to find ten Googlewhacks by his 32nd birthday.
There's something a little contradictory about Gorman's quests. They always seem to happen organically, by chance - but they happen regularly enough for him to base a Fringe or TV show around them every single year. Even if they start from coincidence there must be a point when Gorman stops thinking "Damn, this bizarre quest is really holding up my life" and starts thinking "Must take more photos, this is shaping up for a great Fringe show!"
But see Gorman onstage and you're not seeing a disingenuous man. He gesticulates, shouts, overruns by 20 minutes and ends the show a dancing silhouette.
Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure is utterly joyful and wholeheartedly rewarding. He sees old friends and makes new ones, meets the author of Evolution: The Fossils Still Say No! and eats Pot Noodles with a toothbrush.
His storytelling technique is a masterpiece of structured chaos. Gorman is to linear narrative what the grizzly bear is to the polo circuit, storming from connection to connection in a manner reminiscent of the internet's bizarre connections. He is a genius and his show will lift your heart.
also from The Scotsman...
... this year the line between comedy and theatre has become narrower than ever, thanks to the efforts of Dave Gorman, Alex Horne, Daniel Kitson, Mike Daisey and numerous others
Posing a particular problem is Gorman, whose success and influence may partly explain the rash of storytelling comedy this year. Googlewhack Adventure, most critics agree, is the best show he's ever done, a bravura exercise in storytelling that is not only funny but tense, insightful and moving. On stage, Gorman jokes that he wanted to grow up and write a novel but couldn't, so ended up drifting into a Gormanesque comedy adventure instead.
Ironically, though, Googlewhack Adventure is a very grown-up show, peopled by richly drawn characters and gripping twists and turns. We gave it five stars. Why not give it a Fringe First? For the same reason we didn't give (Demetri) Martin one - who else could perform it but Gorman? Look at this closely though, and it seems perverse. We are disqualifying a terrific story because it actually happened.
If you didn't already know his history of insanity, you would never put Dave Gorman down as a nutter.
He comes across as a personable, lucid chap. He has his passions, certainly, yet he also has a healthy self-awareness, knowing his own . Now here's a man, you may think, who has his head screwed on.
But let's not forget, this is also the man who has lived months of his life by the following the literal meaning of an Ian Dury song, by the command of strangers who correspond with local newspapers, and by an unnatural obsession to find his namesakes.
So it can be little surprise that, despite all his best intentions to write a proper, grown-up novel, the last few months of Dave Gorman's existence have been dominated by yet another insane, obsessive and utterly pointless quest.
In fact, that his life took yet another bizarre turn is one of the few things that isn't a surprise in this staggering, impressive and breathlessly entertaining adventure - even if it caught Gorman himself unawares.
Indeed, his own reluctance to become involved in the madcap odyssey provides the comic counterpoint to the fast-paced action. But as billions-to-one chances stack up almost as quickly as the peer pressure, the inevitable happens and, 119,000km and several thousands of pounds later, Dave has this glorious new show. But no novel.
At the heart of all this madness is the Googlewhack. Googlewhacking is the art of finding two words that, when run through the Internet's leading search engine, returns just one page from the billions available.
Turns out that Dave's website contains one such magic combination. Once he learned that, he just had to find others - after all, it's a great displacement activity to delay writing that book - which led, inevitably, to this excellent adventure.
Quite how it led to a globe-trotting challenge is too complicated to go into, but needless to say it eventually leads our hero to encounter dozens of eccentric characters as he criss-crosses the globe once more.
In fact, there's so much to pack in that much of the actual journey appears as nothing more than a ludicrously expensive split-second flash on the screen, as reams of potential material is super-compressed into the hour demanded by festivals. No doubt there are more tales to be told in the TV series that's just begging to be made, or at least in a longer stage show - and Gorman's such a master storyteller that you could easily listen to his anecdotes all night.
The few people he does focus on, though, provide rich comedy pickings, most notably the rabid creationist that provides the spark for a splendid slice of straight stand-up around, as Gorman at last finds someone even more insane than himself.
The real joy, though, is in the quest itself - full of jaw-dropping real-life twists that the most daring Hollywood screenwriter would think twice about employing. At the end of the dizzying ride, the audience is rightly sworn to secrecy about the exact details - but needless to say Gorman's idiocy is astounding. Go along and laugh at it.
Steve Bennet, Chortle.
Googlewhacking, for those who don't know it, is an esoteric Internet-based word game, the aim of which is to type two words into the web's most popular search engine, and find just one page from the 3.3billion online.
Dave Gorman, for those who don't know him, is an obsessive comic with a tendency to expend immense amounts of energy, money and air miles on ambitious yet utterly pointless challenges inspired.
The two were clearly made for each other.
Not that Dave initially wanted to get involved in any more of the immature escapades that have marked his career so far. He wanted to write a grown-up novel - and even convinced a publisher to advance him the cash to do it.
He was told his website contained a googlewhack, and once he learned what one was, amused himself for a day or so by finding others and passing on the good news to the sites' owners. But it was just a diversionary activity, something to delay the unpleasant task of writing, nothing more.
Months later, a trillions-to-one coincidence brings the subject back to his attention. To explain exactly what would spoil the surprise, and to be honest, you'd be much better advised hearing the story from the horse's mouth.
Needless to say Gorman finds himself visiting the googlewhacks in person, thanks to (a) a hugely irresponsible friend who sets him a challenge he ultimately can't resist, and (b) the consumption of a bottle of tequilla.
Gorman makes much of his reluctance to return to his bad old ways, and to great effect. Comedy generally requires a target, and for Gorman it's his own enthusiasm for such pointless preoccupations that gets him so wonderfully exasperated.
Admittedly, it's possibly a little disingenuous. However reluctantly he started, at some point, he must have at least considered the possibility that he could capitalise on his experiences for a stage show and book - after all, it worked with his previous quest for his namesakes.
But no matter, it still provides a powerful narrative to drive a cracking story, every bit of which, he takes great pains to explain to us, is entirely true. And the point needs making, not only because his escapades are incredible in both sense of the word, but also because the story so often relies on staggering coincidences and unexpected twists to resolve the dramatic tension - twists that most fiction writers would baulk at employing.
But as Gorman says, if he was any good at making stuff up, he'd have just written the damn novel, rather than embarking on such a idiotic and expensive trip across four continents, clocking up scores of flights and tens of thousands of miles.
Even in two hours - which truly zip by - Gorman cannot explain everything that happened to him. The story has a rewarding pattern of peaks and troughs, but there is no mention of some of the anecdotes promised by early publicity, such as the gun-running millionaire who took him to Mexico to buy cocaine. I guess we'll have to wait for the book to come out in January.
What we do get are fundamentalist Christians, fun-loving physicists and one seriously dysfunctional comedian who treats his pointless game with a single-minded seriousness.
Whatever his still-to-be-seen talents as a novelist, Gorman is an undeniably brilliant storyteller. Despite his unusual experiences, he maintains an everyman quality that ensures the audience are quickly on his side, cheering piecharts, booing villains and willing him to complete the futile challenge.
It's quite a positive story, especially for the normally cynical world of comedy, with Gorman relying on the kindness of strangers, and - at least 90 per cent of the time - being rewarded for it, giving the warming message that people are basically decent.
But more than being an uplifting show, it's an entertaining one. The lengths Gorman goes to in his pursuit of his ridiculous aims are always hilarious even if - or probably just because - he seems to hate this self-inflicted torture. At least we can laugh at his pain.
Steve Bennet, Chortle.
If you put two words into the Google web search engine, and it finds just one page, it's called a Googlewhack. They tend to be fairly random combinations of words in the first place - but I can't mention any examples here, because then Google would pick up on it, and it wouldn't be a Googlewhack anymore.
Someone told Dave Gorman that he's a Googlewhack. Or rather, that his website is one. Possibly a bad idea, given that he'd just been given a lot of money to write a book. If you're familiar with his work, you'll probably know what happened next - needless to say that a big screen slideshow and the term 'miles per googlewhack' are involved in his tale.
It all boils down to an incredibly silly and very funny performance, thanks to Dave's great delivery. Oh, and there are free badges too. Go book your ticket before they all sell out, because they inevitably will. - 9/10
Essentially, the investigative comic takes a subject out into the real world, goes off and explores it, then talks about it onstage. Dave Gorman helped to create the genre and is back with a masterclass. His Googlewhack Adventure sees him jetting off around the world in search of people whose websites contain a combination of words that appear only once when they are put into the Google search engine.
It's a bit of a Gorman theme. Previously he has searched the world for people with the same name as him and sought advice on improving things. As with Gorman's other shows, Googlewhack is life-enhancing and jovial, albeit tinged with a slight sense of deja vu. You realise that the majority of people across the planet are jolly, willing to help and happy to respond positively to eccentricity. Without wishing to spoil the outcome of this complex quest, towards the end, all is in jeopardy, then a crucial fact is revealed. Audiences have actually screamed when this fact pops out. It's that kind of show. You get involved. You'll probably scream. But in a good way
You know what? We're all our own best search engines, as Dave Gormans fantastic Googlewhack Adventure testifies. In it, Gorman tells the extraordinary story of his attempt to find ten Googlewhacks in a row and meet their owners, a journey which led him all around the world.
A Googlewhack is what you get if you enter two random, diametrically different words into the internet search engine Google and get back one, solitary result. Usually, Google searches the squillions of web pages and comes back with thousands of possible pages which include your combinations. Not so with a Googlewhack, such is the oddness of your word combo. This is five-star stuff and Gorman will take the show on a West End run. There is also a rumour going around that Gorman is in talks with CBBC to present the soon-to-be-revived Jackanory
Whacking Lyrical - 5 Stars
Dave Gorman whacked my Google. It says so on the badge I got on leaving his show which is surely the funniest at this year's Fringe by a country mile.
Specialising in docucomedy travelogues, where fate conspires to place before him an intriguing proposition he then feels obliged to follow through, he reports his findings in hilarious slide-show format that proves truth really is stranger than stand-up. And his Googlewhack Adventure is no exception.
Indeed it may well be his greatest grand folly yet, inspired by his desire to shake off his eccentric-genius comedy shackles for once and try to behave like a grown-up by doing what all comedians do when they hit 30: write a novel. As he says himself, he had a publisher's advance and everything. Then some bloke e-mailed him to tell him that he was a Googlewhack. Or rather that his website contained one. (A Googlewhack is when you put two random words into Internet search engine Google and out of its 3 billion searches it comes back with only one hit.)
You can see where this is leading already can't you? Having met said bloke, soon things are spiralling out of control (booze, Gorman and passports don't mix) and he is soon crisscrossing the globe trying to complete a ten-in-a-row gold run of Googlewhacks and their website owners before his 32nd birthday deadline.
Whether depressed in Washington, eating with a toothbrush or pulling the rug from under the theories of a wig-wearing creationist (author of Why The Fossils Say No! and its follow up Why The Fossils Still Say No!) this is intelligent comedy at its creative best. And yes, Dave, I have kept your secret as requested. Even if you did whack my Google all night, you naughty boy!
Dave Gorman does weird things and then creates shows about them. A couple of years ago he scoured the world for other people named Dave Gorman.
This year he discovered Googlewhacks, the game of putting two unrelated words into an internet search engine in the hope of finding only one site containing both.
Characteristically, Gorman took the game further, travelling to meet people whose websites uniquely contained the words unicyclist and periscopes, for example, and then getting them to find another Googlewhack for him to track down.
What saves this from total trainspotting insanity is the fact that he is a really great storyteller. He is aware of how mad the game is and comically recounts his attempts to resist a quest that came to take on a life of its own.
He skilfully characterises the people he meets on his obsessive journey, from the Australians unhappily stranded in Washington DC to the octogenarian creationist in (of course) southern California, all with an infectious delight. And he carries the audience through the highs and lows of his absurd adventure, inspiring cheers, gasps and virtually continuous laughter.
Gorman's search is passionate and fun - 4 Stars
It all comes down to personality. Take Dave Gorman, for example. Many people saw him do Are You Dave Gorman? at the Fringe in 2000 and thought him a loveable, eccentric, cheeky chappy. Others found him an irritating, smug, smart-arse. The latter were very much in the minority. In fact, at times felt like they were a minority of one .
So when it was suggested by the minority of one's editor that he was an important individual to review this year, the minority of one was reluctant. If you didn't like his show two years ago, the prospect of the Googlewhack adventure sounded even more irritating and smug. Instead of travelling the world trying to find his namesakes as he did three years ago, this time Gorman travels the world trying to find Googlewhacks (When you type two words into Google and the search finds only one website which features those words, then you have a Googlewhack.) How very modern.
So contrived are the concepts at the heart of Gorman's shows that he always needs to insert a dare by some second party, which you get the distinct impression is disingenuous to say the least. If you were to believe Dave Gorman or his novelistic counterpart, the fridge-carrying, playing-Moldovans-at-tennis Tony Hawks, the sole task of a comedian's friend is to sit around daring them to perform account-sappingly twatty tasks.
In this instance, Gorman is dared to build up an interrupted (sic) chain of 10 of (sic) Googlewhacks, contacting the owner of each successive Googlewhack website, visiting them to provide the next Googlewhack in the chain. Gorman grandiosely refers to this style as documentary comedy, which is, frankly, nonsense. These are personal shaggy-dog stories with a bit of a concept and they have been copied by hundreds of people at this year's Fringe. Another reason not to like him
The Googlewhack Adventure however, has converted the minority of one. Perhaps it is the way that Gorman spends the early part of the show explaining how he tried to escape high-concpet comedy, but was drawn back into it because, well, he is a little nuts.
In Googlewhack, Gorman exhibits a greater degree of vulnerability and passion than his previous shows as he reveals the minor mid-life crisis that gave birth to this show. Whereas Gorman justified travelling the world in search of his namesakes by concept alone, Gorman here finds humour in the sheer stupidity and loneliness of his global project. He's angrier now, and angrier is always funnier. His voice hoarse, he rails against a stupid world, although he saves most of the vitriol for himself, the greatest idiot of the lot.
While the sell-by-date of the "let-me-tell-you-about-this-stupid-thing-I-did" style of comedy is coming up quickly, it's not fair to blame the best just because he has his copycats. This is a show with a good slice of passion, a bit of humanity and lots and lots of laughs
If you're one of the few that haven't seen Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure yet, then it's probably too late, which means you've missed an astonishing true story that builds from Gorman's minor moody struggles with art and ego into a triumphantly obsessive planetwide quest that swells your sense of infinite possibility until you want to break into song like a fat Italian.
Do you know what a Googlewhack is? Dave Gorman didn't, until someone sent him an e-mail telling him that he was one. Most other people might merely have been intrigued. Possibly for a few days. But thankfully for us, Dave Gorman was coerced into exploring the probabilities of Googlewhacking in more detail, involving thousands of miles worth of travel, a foray into the world of creationist science and lots of graphs. The resulting tale is sidesplitting and had the audience eating out of Dave's hand for over an hour and a half. What exactly is the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics? Who wants to be a Minogue? Will Dave win his bet? And what's this about a novel...?
Though it sounds faintly obscene, to googlewhack is actually to find two words that, when entered into the google internet search engine, returns a link to only one site instead of the thousands that usually result.
After Dave Gorman was told that his own website contained one, he embarked on another obsessive pursuit, as he previously did with his last one-man show based on finding people who shared his name, of people whose sites also contained them - and it took him literally across the globe in a race against time, to find a chain of ten of them before his self-imposed deadline of his 32nd birthday.
The result is a really inspiring true documentary tale of a truly pointless quest, and Gorman tells it with such fire and fervour that I was as enthralled as I was gripped and ultimately even moved. He is an instinctive storyteller with a great story to tell, and for sheer comic exhilaration, there's nothing to beat this.
It's also full of the kind of disturbing self-revelation that makes this the most consistently surprising, original and deeply worrying show on the fringe.
What kind of man pursues something as demented as this so doggedly? It's as extraordinary for what he tells you about himself as it is for what he tells you about the quest itself.
There are some sensational shows. Three festivals ago, Dave Gorman detailed his attempts to track down people who shared his name in Are You Dave Gorman? and he has returned with the true tale of an even more pointless quest: Googlewhack Adventure.
Apparently a "Googlewhack" occurs when two words are entered into the Google search engine and return a link to only one website instead of the usual thousands.
After being told his own website contained one, he started tracking down people whose sites also contained them and, asking each one to find him another, set out to create a chain of 10-in-a-row before his 32nd birthday.
The result is an inspired comic journey that has him once more criss-crossing the globe in the Fringe's most consistently dazzling, demented show. He's an original.
Pacing around the stage he explains to the audience how a pointless pastime that began as a way to avoid writing ballooned into an obsession; 470 people sit in the packed theatre reliving the anger, the frustration, the joy and the sheer absurdity of it all alongside him. We're thrilled when he wins The Observer's crossword prize, annoyed when the creationist lies to him, amused by his idiocy but also admiring. When, towards the end of the 90-minute monologue, a key part of his mission fails, bodies visibly slump across the theatre and you can feel the room deflate with disappointment. By then, we've all bought into it. We're all on the mission alongside him.
The Googlewhack story would be unbelievable if not for the evidence he presents: boarding passes, photographs, real web sites, and another, more shocking piece of physical proof from a drunken night in Texas, that he asks us to keep secret so as not to ruin the fun for future audiences. "It's all true!" he exclaims, knowing that the show only works if we all believe him. "If I was any good at making things up, I'd have written a f***ing novel!"
This is victim-less comedy, laughter without cruelty. You leave not with a new set of puns and put-downs but with a renewed sense of how wonderful our shrinking world can be, full of enjoyable eccentrics and acts of kindness. Complete strangers show Gorman round their city, invite him to parties, welcome him into their homes - and then whack for him. He loves them for it, and you end up loving them a bit too.
In his poem, 'History', John Fuller wrote, 'Our individual lives/Which we see in daunting or luring prospect, minute by minute/ Make little sense until we are seen by others/As completed fact or anecdote.' This could be Dave Gorman's mantra. His shows are built around his lived experience, absurd adventures of his own making, swept along by chance and which, in the telling, almost persuade you that there is some kind of serendipitous pattern in a random universe..
A Googlewhack, for those who don't know, is a term used to descrie the single result obtained when two unconnected words, such as 'c*elacanth sharpen*r', are entered into the internet search engine Google.
The distraction of the internet has robbed the world of many novels, Gorman's unwritten debut among them. The lure of the Googlewhack quest proved too strong; isntead of writing, via accident and bizarre chance he spent three months of his life flying around the world in search of an unbroken chain of 10 Googlewhacks.
The basic premise is not dissimilar to both his previous television shows, Are You Dave Gorman? and Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment, and enjoys the same smart visual accompaniment of graphs, charts and maps. But Googlewhack, playing an extra date at Hammersmith to his biggest audience yet, is a different kind of show, in that Gorman has revealed much more of himself. Rather than appearing as a picaresque hero, this time he weaves in his own crises, self-doubt and loneliness into the story; that we laugh heartily at the account of a man's near-breakdown says much about the audience's faith in Gorman's shows - we laugh because we trust that it will all turn out OK in the end.
The most joyous belly laughs are in the surprises, which is why I can't tell you what happens, except to say that Fate does seem to have plotted Gorman's course with a superb feel for drama and resolution. He is fiercely defensive of his integrity though, insisting that none of the coincidences in the show have been contrived: this is a true story, funny in the way that most of our lives would be if we took the time to look back at them.
He could do with starting the show at a lower emotional pitch, in order to keep some in reserve for the climax without looking as if he needs the St John's Ambulance. Otherwise, this is an oddly brilliant creation; at once slick and raw, dark and life-affirming, celebrating the value of human contact in a virtual world.