Interview: Watching Dave
Investigative-style comedian Dave Gorman talks to Victoria Nangle about PowerPoint, deodorant statistics, and William Shatner’s hairpieces
Hello! How has today been treating you?
Very well, thanks for asking. And you?
Also well, thank you. You are renowned for having a curious mind. What was the last thing that made you go; “Ooh, I wonder what’s behind that idea?”
There’s an advert for a deodorant, I’m not sure which one, but the thrust of the ad is that this deodorant won’t leave marks on your clothes. It boasts that it’s been proven to be mark free on 100 colours. a) I can’t think of 100 colours, b) it also says it’s been tested on 120 colours. So basically, it’s scientifically proven to leave a mark on one in every six colours. And this is their advert!
What’s your favourite website in your ‘bookmarks’ list?
I don’t have one favourite. I have practical sites that I visit regularly to do practical things but the joy is in alighting on the oddities. Recent favourites include two sites that use a narrow focus on a niche interest as a springboard to great essay writing. They are http://withbillyconnolly.tumblr.com/ and http://shatnerstoupee.blogspot.co.uk. One of them seeks to decode what it means to be British by examining the celebrities present at a 1985 recording of An Audience With Billy Connolly, and the other studies film and TV through the prism of William Shatner’s changing hairpieces. You can probably guess which one’s which. Genuinely great, passionate writing on both of them. And not the cheap laughs you might expect. Sadly, neither have been updated in a while, which is why new things are always sought…
What is your favourite word? I ask this in the spirit that my favourite word is ‘whoops’, because it means there’s a story either before or after it that’s intriguing.
Quidnunc. I am a quidnunc.
Your latest show involves more PowerPoint presentation work, which you have been using for years now. If you could make one request of Microsoft in the next upgrade of the application, what magic wand innovation would you add to it?
I wouldn’t add anything to it. I’d take stuff away. I use it because it’s a simple way of putting information in front of an audience. All the bells and whistles just make things more complicated and less punchy. Simple is good.
“I’d launch attacks on the nation’s other piers”
So, I know it’s a boring question, but can you please briefly outline what we can expect from your latest show?
It’s not that it’s a boring question… it’s just one that nobody wants to answer. Comedy works by surprising an audience; by hijacking one thought and turning it into another. Telling the audience what they can expect is a way of ruining that. I suppose you can tell them the topics that will be discussed, but even that’s useless isn’t it? The funniest things to me are the topics that sound like they will be the least promising. There’s no point doing comedy about stuff that’s obviously funny, as there’s nothing for a comedian to add.
So… am I whittling it down? I’ll be talking about stuff that doesn’t sound like it will be funny. But it will be. In reality, people who need more convincing than that aren’t exactly my target audience. I’ve got a friend who only reads romance novels. She won’t pick them up unless there’s a man in a uniform on the cover. Preferably riding a horse. The first thing she does is read the back page to see if it’s got a happy ending. She won’t read the rest of it if there isn’t a happy ending. If there’s a comedy-going equivalent – someone who only goes if the poster features a man in a tie and there’s a promise of at least 12 knob jokes – then I’m probably not for them.
Any more cycling tours on the horizon, or did the last one put you off cycling for a very long time?
It hasn’t put me off cycling. I still cycle as my main way of travelling around town. But it’s a very impractical way of touring. In general, I don’t book venues; they book me. Like all performers, I’m a gun for hire and I go where the work is. That’s why on most tours you’ll see someone’s performing in Preston one night and Aberdeen the next. That’s an impractical way of travelling, but it’s the practical way of putting a tour together. But when you’re travelling by bicycle, the next show has to fall within an 80-mile radius.
And sometimes, that limits you to two venues. And sometimes they’re both already booked up on that night… and so you go back and try to change the route… and suddenly five shows you had pencilled in have to be cancelled as you rebuild it, heading in a slightly different direction, and it drives you nuts. That we managed to make it happen at all – I did 30 nights on the bounce, averaging 60 miles each day – is ridiculous enough, thank you.
If you were given an evening a week that had been baggsied to do an evening class – has to be an evening class – what would you like to spend a year learning?
Darts. (I’m not sure there is such a class, but there could be.)
What are your plans for the next 12 months professionally?
Well, a third series of Modern Life Is Goodish has been commissioned. So I’ll do this tour, take a couple of weeks off over Christmas and then start on that… which should be finished around this time next year.
So some fluke has meant that you’ve inherited the old burned-out pier in Brighton. With money no object, what would you do with it?
I’d regenerate it as a traditional pier, but use it as a cover for a submarine base – from where I’d launch attacks on the
nation’s other piers.
Thank you lots for your time and I look forward immensely to seeing the show. *big grin* Have a great day.
No, no. Thank you. And I look forward to seeing you. And the others. There will be others. Won’t there?
Dave Gorman: Gets Straight To The Point (Powerpoint), Brighton Comedy Festival, Concert Hall, Brighton Dome, Saturday 11 October 2014, 8pm, £20, 01273 709709, www.brightoncomedyfestival.com