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Dave Gorman's Screen Guild

Screen Guild

"Dave Gorman's Screen Guild - a mixed bill of comedy curated by Dave Gorman.
This new occasional night will be hosted by Dave, his laptop and a big screen.
Dave's picking the guests himself so it promises to deliver only the finest and smartest acts the circuit has to offer..."

NEXT SHOW: The fifth Screen Guild season starts in April 2016 and shows have so far been scheduled for April, May, June and July. You can book tickets here.

For most stand-ups, it's easy enough to find space to try out new ideas. There are loads of clubs in London where you can pop along and do five, ten, fifteen minutes or what have you.

But it's not so easy to do that if you're in a double act and your partner is a 9ft by 12ft projection screen. The screen doesn't fit into small pub venues and even if it did, it has to be set up in advance and stay on stage for the whole night... so it kind of takes over the space. It would be a bit weird for a club night to change everything for every other performer just so that I could pop on in the middle and try out five minutes of stuff.

Besides, with Modern Life Is Goodish returning for a fourth and fifth series, I'm burning through 6 to 8 hours of material a year... so I need more room for more ideas.

Which is where my Screen Guild gigs come in. It's my playground - the place I can experiment with new ideas and see what works. The first five-show run generated pretty much all the material that became the show, Dave Gorman's Powerpoint Presentation and a bit more besides. The second run generated a lot of the material for the series, Modern Life Is Goodish and now it's bedded into a neat pattern where I basically run the shows in conjunction with the series. There's nothing more boring that executives talking about whether or not they think something will be funny... and nothing more exciting than taking the plunge, putting it in front of an audience and finding out that it is. These shows aren't just fun for me, they're also bloody useful.

Sometimes new stuff is good. And of course, sometimes it's, um, not so good. But I guarantee the shows have always been worth seeing because I make sure I book guest acts that I really, really like.

The first run, ran for five months from March 2011 and the second run of six started in September 2012 and ran through to March 2013. Both were held in the fantastic Hoxton Hall. A third season of five monthly gigs started in February 2014, but as Hoxton Hall was closed for refurbishment, the show moved to a new home: the Attic at the Hackney Picture House, where we stayed for a fourth season in 2015. Hoxton Hall has reopened and is better than its ever been, so I'm delighted that season five will see the shows return to their original home.

I love the fact that I don't have to advertise who's on each bill in order to sell tickets. I like the fact that an audience will come along and be surprised. (Pleasantly.) There have been shows where four relatively unknown acts have all taken the roof off and the idea that anyone would have scanned the line-up and thought, "I won't bother with that night, I don't know any of them" just seems a bit ridiculous.

But for what it's worth, here, in no particular order are the acts that have graced the Screen Guild stage: Stephen Carlin, Ali Cook, Dan Antopolski, Al Stick, James Acaster, Daniel Rigby, Stuart Goldsmith, Pete Firman, Danielle Ward, Holly Walsh, Tom Wrigglesworth, Ed Gamble, Isy Suttie, Milton Jones, Dan Evans, Elis James, Morgan & West, Tom Deacon, Helen Keen, Jay Foreman, Sarah Kendall, Steve Hall, David O'Doherty, Piff The Magic Dragon, Aisling Bea, Daniel Simonsen, Phil Wang, Andy Zaltzman, Grainne Maguire, Tony Law, Mark Smith, Gareth Richards, Richard Herring, Pat Cahill, Simon Munnery, Marcel Lucont, Lucy Beaumont, Katie Mulgrew, Katherine Ryan, Adam Hess, Jonny & The Baptists, Matt Forde, Paul McCaffrey, McNeil & Pamphilon, Hayley Ellis, Tom Price, Jarlath Regan, Carl Donnelly, George Egg, Nick Doody, Rob Auton, Tiff Stephenson, Alun Cochrane, Matt Kirshen, Pippa Evans, Yuriko Katoni, Bilal Zafar, Naz Osmanoglu, Mark Cooper-Jones Alex Smith, Annie McGrath, Sofie Hagen and Sara Pascoe. And that's definitely a pretty damned good cross section of acts working in the UK today.

 

I get a lot of emails and tweets from people asking why these gigs don't travel. It would defeat the object of them if they did. I do them close to (my) home because it's the only way of making them work! If I took them on the road, we'd have the travel and accomodation for five acts and a technician to cover. To do that, we'd have to put them in bigger venues and charge a higher ticket price. You can't try out new material at a higher ticket price because people have a right to expect a polished show if they're paying polished prices. Building a 500+ slide powerpoint presentation takes a long time. I normally finish doing it at about 6.30 on the day of the show. I can't do that on a train. I can't do that in a car. If I took them on the road it would be a four-day long exercise that lost money. As it is, it's a two-day long exercise that breaks even! I always book good acts. That means it's always a good show. But it's not always tour-quality stuff from me - nothing is first time out of the traps. But that's the point! Over time, I build up a store of material that can then be polished.