We chat to Dave Gorman about taking the bus, Powerpoint and Brighton Comedy Festival
Dave Gorman brings his new show ‘Dave Gorman gets to the point…Powerpoint’ to Brighton Comedy Festival this October. Ahead of his visit we had a chat about past projects, where his ideas come from, getting the bus, coming back to stand-up, his new book and his upcoming show.
You’ve worked on a huge number of projects over the years, how do you come up with ideas?
I think the thing with ideas is, they happen to you and you can’t have a method of coming up with them. If you do, it starts to feel formulaic and the audience see that, you just have to trust that things will happen and that ideas will land in your head. The enemy of creativity for me, is a blank piece of paper otherwise you sit there and say “What i’m going to do today is have an idea.” that’s going to be the one day you’re not going to have one. Instead if you go for a bike ride and pop into the local cafe for a bite to eat and have conversations with people and whatever is a much better way. A Producer recently said to me “What’s good about you Dave is you take the bus” and within that is a key thing, not for a moment suggesting i’m in some high fulluted world where I could be in the back of chauffeur driven cars, I mean you just do stuff, you just live life and things will happen and if you don’t do that you shut yourself off from the thing you need to have ideas.
So do you have lots of ideas, and then have to narrow them down to decide what to do next?
The things that people think are the ‘projects’ I have done, are not things that I did as concisely thinking this is my next project they are things normally that have happened and at the end of them i’ve sat back and gone’ I could do something with that’ so it’s much more retrospective when it comes to writing and creating. I understand why people think, when you’re on a stage, people inevitably think he must have done this so he can talk about it on a stage but actually you write about what’s happened, I never try to do things in order to write about them.
You took some time out of stand-up and recently came back to it, why is that?
I gave it up because I stopped enjoying it, and I started again because I got bored and it seemed like something that would be fun, it’s definitely something you should only do if it’s fun, the minute you stop enjoying it then get the fuck out because you’ll be weighed down by the bad stuff. So I started again and it’s really good fun and now I can’t imagine why I thought it wasn’t at some point.
Which do you enjoy most standup or the projects you have done?
It’s not a matter of choice about ‘do you prefer this kind of show or that kind of show’ you just can’t manufacture that kind of show it has either happened to you or it hasn’t. The worst thing to do is to make one up that is trying to be that or even based on things like that. I’ve always been afraid of becoming a parody act of myself that after Googlewhack I would follow it up with a show about me trying to meet every person who has ever come last in the Eurovision song contest and I will meet them on top of the highest mountain in the land where they were born, I hate that. Some people would read that and think ‘but that is what you do isn’t it?’ and they are entitled to think that but I don’t go about trying to make shows like that. If you came to see ‘Are you Dave Gorman’ then the first 10 or 15 minutes of that show was me explaining the events that led up to the story, by the time you get to the things that seem eccentric the whole audience think these things make sense because they’ve been on every step of the journey.
Talking about your new book that comes out in September ‘Too Much Information’, I see that it’s inspired by and contains some material from the tv series ‘Modern Life is Goodish’?
Yes there’s a bit of cross over, there’s a few things that you would have seen in the first series that are discussed and repeated and things that aren’t going to be in the second series because I wrote about them in the book. It’s not a transcript of the same material though, it’s the same ideas being discussed.
How would you describe the new book?
What I want it to be is a collection of essays of a sort. When I was a kid there were 3 tv channels, our telly was in black and white and I was 6 when I first saw a colour telly. One of my Nieces genuinely said to me recently “Was your internet in black and white as well?” and when I told them I had a black and white telly they looked at me like I was from the war, they didn’t get it at all!
Now have smartphones, which are essentially little computers, that we carry around with us the whole time and that means that we are bombarded with more information than we’ve ever been before. My wife and I were in Australia a couple of years ago whilst I was doing a festival and because we were only there for 2 weeks we got these little pay as you go mobiles so we could keep in touch. I’d go off to do an interview and then get in a cab to meet my wife and I would turn on my phone and text my wife saying I was on my way back and then I would look at my phone thinking ‘why aren’t you entertaining me?’ and 30 seconds later i’d pull it out of my pocket again and look at it and it’s a habit because that’s what I do now on journeys. I sit down, my brain doesn’t rest , my brain goes ‘next!’ ‘bring it on!’ ‘give me more’ so this book is an attempt to say ‘stop a moment and look at what’s going on!’ and question it. I just want to put the brakes on just for a moment, freeze frame the world and say ‘Look at all this nonsense..right now carry on.’ It’s an attempt to press pause, look around go ‘Shit isn’t it?’ then press play again.
So you’re new show ‘Dave Gorman gets to the point…Powerpoint’ that you’re bringing to BCF in october, does this have elements of that in it too or is it something completely different?
It does have some of these elements in it but nothing comes from the book although it comes from the same point of view.
It’s really liberating and it’s about proof and trying to underline my points. A lot of comedy is about shared experience and though I have no problem with that it isn’t the only way of working. If you’re in a regular comedy club and you’re on stage and you want to talk about an advert, the only adverts you can talk about are the ones that we’ve all seen and we’re all familiar with. I think a lot of the stuff that I really like are the things that you have seen but that you haven’t noticed. Rather than saying ‘Have you ever noticed?’ i’m saying ‘You haven’t noticed this, have you? Look, look! This is weird isn’t it?’ but I can’t do that unless i can prove it. I think it’s just as funny to take a Spanish advert and break it down into 3 second bits and make points and the audience has this growing realisation that they have seen it all before but they won’t believe you if you’re just telling them. Funnily enough there’s an old dictum that says ‘Do not use more than 20 slides or the audience won’t understand’ and I use over 700!
Are you looking forward to coming to BCF?
People always think, when you’re planning a tour, that you have sat with a map of Britain and gone ‘I will play here and then I will play here and I want to share my presence with the people of Rochdale’ but the truth is, you’re a self employed person whose been offered some work and said yes. I think this might be a uniquely British thing, where people hate their home town. Brighton is one of the few places which has a good opinion of itself which is a really rare trait, most other places see themselves as the punchline to a joke that the rest of the world is playing. Wherever you go, you get people asking ‘Wahat are you going there for? I’m from there, it’s shit!’. I’m going because i’m getting paid to go there and when I get there I get to do something that’s fun! When i’m coming to do a gig in your hometown what i’m not going to do is sit in the town centre by some bins for an hour, what I’m going to do is go to a theatre where some people who want to hear what I have to say come which is generally a positive experience! So really I look forward to going everywhere because your going to see people that want to see you and it’s great! The bonus of it being a festival is that I get to see some mates too and there’s a nice buzz about a festival which makes it fun to be a part of.