By Noel Oxford
At the end of Dave Gorman’s arse-numbing set, he swore the entire audience to secrecy about what had just happened, as if we’d all witnessed a Mayan human sacrifice. It makes it more fun for people, apparently, if you don’t blab all the punchlines to your mates just before they go to the theatre. Who knew?
After the show kicked out, I thought about that for a bit. I live in Nottingham. Most of my mates also live in Nottingham. In fact, a good number of my mates were at the self-same show I was. The day after I saw him, Gorman tipped up in Reading. I don’t know anybody in Reading, a fact I daily thank Christ for. I don’t tweet or book faces, due to having at least some self-respect. Who exactly am I going to ruin it for?
But then I realised, I also have you lot. I promised some copy on this show, so I am honour bound by my sacred journalistic oaths to deliver it. As well as a dead backside, therefore, Gorman has also given me a dilemma. Do I go with my instincts as a free citizen, and lay it out exactly as I saw it, spoiling all the surprises for you jerks? Or do I let “The Man” censor my pen and keep it vague and woolly? Normally, I’d keep things vague enough to preserve the magic, while giving enough details to flesh out my experience. But now, I don’t know where the line is. I’m tempted to ruin it for all of you, just out of pure spite. Nobody tells me what not to write. Except for mother.
The dilemma goes deeper still, though. I went into the show mildly hostile to Dave Gorman. All I knew of him was that silly brand of ‘documentary-comedy’ he did back in the day. All that stuff about finding people with the same name as him, and his autistic spreadsheet-keeping approach to such a pointless quest. To this day, I don’t grasp the conceit behind his Googlewhack thing from 2003, and I don’t really care to find out. It sounded stupid to me.
But, I thought, maybe his stand-up is a different animal. I’ll give him a chance to win me over, I thought. Meet him on his own terms and keep an open mind. The problem is, I still don’t know where I stand. I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t really laugh much, but then again, I’m a grumpy old bugger and everyone around me was in stitches. I can’t honestly recommend him to you in terms like ‘trust me it is brilliant’. Nor can I say I thought it was rubbish and enumerate exactly what I thought went wrong without just spoiling the whole thing. Fortunately, I think I’ve headed off the problem by instead complaining for 500 words about being shit at my job. Now for the conclusion.
The unifying theme of Gorman’s material is anecdotes from his life as a comedian, how it informs his shows, and vice versa. Most of it is quite positive, gentle and cuddly, not terribly confrontational or angry, but not quite inoffensive or bland. The entire time, I found myself thinking ‘ah, I see what you did there’, rather than clutching at a knot in my side and struggling for air. He is an animated performer, innovative in his stage craft, and apparently quite capable of working a room the size of a silo. Despite the horrible, back-stiffening seating, my attention didn’t really wander off at any point in the two-plus hours I spent watching him, and I didn’t walk out rueing the cost of the ticket.
Doubt I would bother with a second viewing, though.