Returning to Stand Up
"What's the best way of letting the world know that the English comedian Dave Gorman is tear-streamingly hilarious? His act is so dependent on beautifully detailed anecdotes, delivered with the soft urgency of a confidential whisper that it's next to impossible to steal a single line from his arsenal."
The Irish Times (At the Kilkenny Cat Laughs Comedy Festival 2009)
The Pretentious Explanation For Returning To Stand Up:
I started off doing stand-up comedy when I was a 19 year old wee stripling. I think I got to a pretty decent level but after 7 or 8 years I grew somewhat disenchanted with the form. I wanted to stretch myself in other ways. My commitment to stand-up waned. It's not really the kind of thing you can do half-arsed.
When I first came up with a different kind of show (Reasons To Be Cheerful was the first) it was difficult to persuade audiences to come along. While an audience could be persuaded to see a comedian-they'd-never-heard-of telling them some jokes the idea of a comedian-they'd-never-heard-of talking to them for 90 minutes about an obscure 1979 pop song was a bit harder to sell. I can't imagine why. Oh. Hang on... yes, I can.
Anyway... eventually the narrative shows started to get decent press and audiences grew more comfortable with the genre and so I slowly abandoned the more straight forward stand-up in their favour. For several years I toured the shows, as well as Reasons To Be Cheerful there was Better World, Are You Dave Gorman? and finally Googlewhack Adventure... all of which were, hopefully, funny... but none of which contained any straight-forward jokes. Bits from those shows don't make any sense in isolation... by which I mean the 76th minute of any of them would be completely meaningless to anyone who hadn't seen minutes 1 through 75. Which is sort of why I don't regard them as stand-up per se.
With Googlewhack Adventure I did three tours of the UK, two trips to Oz, two to Canada, an off-Broadway run and a tour of the States. All in all, the touring lasted nearly three years and when it ended at the end of 2005 I was a stone and a half underweight had a nodule on my throat and had no great desire to play live any time soon.
But in 2008 I started to miss the live scene again... especially when I did a load of book-readings to promote America Unchained. I started thinking about what I could do live but the last thing I wanted to do was contrive some events just so I could have a new story to tell. I know from my e-mails that some people think I'm The-Wacky-Bet-guy who does shows about meeting every European Country's lowest scoring Eurovision contestant on top of that country's tallest mountain - or something - but I hope that people who've actually seen the shows or read my books know that isn't really what I do. I think the reasons the shows worked was their authenticity and the lack of contrivance. It might not be the thing that persuaded you to buy a ticket but I think it was part of each show's appeal once you had.
Anyway... if I was going to create a new show in that same genre there were two choices: I could sit around and wait for something to happen to me or I could contrive something specially. I'm proud of the honesty in those shows... and I think adding a contrived one on the end would cheapen them in some way. So I've ruled that out.
It seems counter-intuitive to people but the truth is that book-readings are far more like stand-up than the theatre shows I'd toured for so long. For a start there are some actual, proper jokes. Things happen over a shorter time-frame so the 43rd minute would probably make perfect sense to you regardless of whether or not you'd seen the first 42 and so on. The Q&A sessions were always my favourite part because it was a different kind of test each night.
So eventually, having not performed any stand-up for 7 or 8 years I decided to dip my toe back in the water to see if I could remember how it worked. In November/December 2008 I did a few gigs on the London circuit, with me just cycling around and dropping in on the odd club here or there. I really enjoyed the lo-fi-ness of it all.
It's been fun and it's evolved and I've now decided to do a full tour. But I wanted to keep the whole lo-fi nature of it going. So I'm going to do the tour by bicycle. It's not what the show's about. It's what I'm about.
The Unpretentious Explanation: I used to do stand-up. Then I did a different kind of live comedy for a while. Then I stopped playing live because I'd toured everything to death and didn't have a new show. Then I remembered that I used to enjoy stand-up. So I tried it again and enjoyed it again. So I occasionally pop out in London and do a gig here or there. And I'm touring in the autumn.
I toured a show around the UK in the autumn of 2009 and then again in the spring of 2010. We filmed the show a short while after at the Bloomsbury Theatre. It's on DVD. But you won't find the DVD in the shops. You'll only find it here.