Monday, October 31, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I say Actually Frequently Asked... because I'm always suspicious when I read FAQs that some of the questions are really Rarely If Ever Asked Questions That Give Us An Opportunity To Tell You What We Want To Tell You. So I promise these are all questions that I have been asked every night of the tour by someone. Here goes.
1: What's the music playing before the show? Did you choose it?
I did choose it. It's by a band called Misty's Big Adventure. I'm a big fan of theirs. They did a special song as a DVD extra when Are You Dave Gorman? was released and also did the theme music for Genius. I like to play their music before the show because somehow it seems to be in the same spirit as the show. They're on twitter as Mistys_Big_Twit.
2: Will you be playing in Sweden?/Why aren't you playing in Glasgow?
This is definitely the most frequently asked of all the questions. Okay... it might not always be Sweden or Glasgow... but you get the idea. Substitute any place the tour doesn't reach and the answer's the same. I don't book venues, they book me. That's it. Simple as that.
Oh... and of course it goes without saying that you should at least check the dates before assuming we aren't coming to your town... many's the time someone complains about us not playing somewhere we are playing. I've asked a couple of people why. Sample answer: "I just didn't think you would play Aldershot." Really.
If you're asking this question and you're not on my mailing list then, together, we appear to be doing this the wrong way round. It's easier for us both if I tell you when I am coming your way instead of you asking on the off chance. I don't send masses of emails and I always let the mailing list know about free things first. Some people seem to be scared of signing up as if it's some kind of commitment. It isn't. It just means that you'll get occasional emails when I have new things going on. And some of them might be near you. Spam free. No hassle.
3: Who organises your tour and don't they know anything about geography?!
This is asked by people who see that after the Liverpool show we were playing Aberdeen and then Edinburgh and then Nottingham. Or similar. Take a look at other people's tour posters... you'll see it's a common occurrence. Of course in a world where every venue was sitting idle doing nothing except wanting my show to turn up we'd probably do some more sensible driving. But they're not. A lot of venues are seven nights a week operations. They have schedules to fill as well. There's no reason why their available dates should be convenient to me... in fact sometimes venues have exclusion zones where they prevent you playing within a 50 mile radius, say, for a month or so. They don't want you playing just up the road the next day. Fair enough.
Some theatres are rep venues - they have plays on 6 nights a week - and are only available on Sundays. Fridays and Saturdays are easier to sell than other nights of the week. These are all factors. Agents don't ask whether the journey will be nice... only if it will be possible.
4: Will it be out on DVD?
I think some people assume that a tour exists solely so it can be filmed and released... as if - without that pay off - people wouldn't do live shows. That's not the case. Live shows are fun. And with this particular show I don't think it would be possible to put it on DVD for all manner of legal reasons. If that makes it sound like I'm some kind of dangerous firebrand saying the unsayable... well that's not it.
Hmm... I'm trying to answer this without providing spoilers... so I'll tell you a story about the last show that was filmed for DVD. In it there's a routine where I read from a postcard. On tour I'd use a postcard I bought in the first town and then replace it occasionally when it got a bit tatty. On the DVD I wasn't allowed to use a shop bought postcard because we would have had to get permission from the copyright holder first and we couldn't guarantee that they would give me that permission. So I used a postcard that had been produced by my publishers when they were promoting America Unchained. I owned the copyright to that image... problem solved.
Now... multiply that problem by 850 slides - some of them showing adverts from multinational companies that don't necessarily come out of the show with glowing reports... and you have a show that can't really be recorded or broken into bits that fit on TV.
That's fine by me. I didn't write a show so that it could be recorded... I wrote a show so that it could be performed .
5. Is it really PowerPoint or are you using Keynote? (Or Prezi or whatever)
Actually this isn't always phrased as a question. A sample tweet. "I went to see Dave Gorman's Powerpoint Presentation tonight. Very funny. But it wasn't PowerPoint. It was Keynote. I'll let him off." I know it's hard to believe that people do this... but they genuinely do. At least two every night. And they're wrong... it is PowerPoint. I've had a couple of twitter conversations about it and the reason behind it seems to be that a) I'm running it on a Mac and b) "PowerPoint can't do that and Keynote is better so you should use Keynote". But PowerPoint can do that. Because that's what did that. That thing you saw that you thought PowerPoint couldn't do. Besides... the show isn't about PowerPoint... it just uses it. It wouldn't be funnier if I used different transitions...
6. Do you want to come for a pint before the show?
Well yes. And no. I'm not really a pints-kind of fella... I'm more a rum man myself. But wanting to and being able to are different things. I never drink before this show. It's a physical show to perform. I think people who haven't seen me live - or who have only seen me doing a book reading, say - imagine it to be a gentle, amble of a show. It's not. It's full tilt. It's sort of like going to the gym every night. And only a fool would have a pint - or a rum - before going to the gym.
On top of that, doing the show tears my throat apart. I have the chance to sip some water about 30 seconds in... and then there isn't another moment where I can stop and do it again. I've had nodules in the past. They hurt. If I'm doing a small number of gigs I might have a drink after a show. But if I'm doing a proper tour I try to stay away. I have to try and look after the voice because without one there's no show. It's easy to go without because I enjoy doing the shows much more than I enjoy drinking... and drinking can mean I end up doing the shows in pain. Which is less fun. (For what it's worth, sober audiences are better too. Comedy is about an exchange of ideas. Sober people laugh at ideas. Drunk people laugh at swear words. Which is boring. Not that I don't swear. It's just that they're not there to make drunk people laugh.)
I think those are the most frequently asked questions I'm getting. Actually, there is another question I get asked a lot... but it's a question I specifically ask the audience not to ask me because it can be a spoiler... and I can't answer it here for the same reason!
Reading the answers to questions you didn't ask is probably tedious (especially number 5!) and definitely has the potential to make the person doing the answering appear presumptuous... so my apologies to those of you who ploughed through this for little reward. It wasn't really aimed at you. I reckon I answer a mix of these questions on twitter at least 30 times a day... so I've just saved myself a lot of future typing.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Then Hello Aberdeen!
Then Hello Edinburgh!
Before saying Hello Nottingham!
The next few dates are a little easier as far as travelling is concerned. Cambridge, Southend, Dorking, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Guildford and Bournemouth... it'll feel like no miles at all after this last week.
All details for this next run - and the dates beyond - Dublin, Birmingham, Oxford, York, Middlesbrough, Bristol, High Wycombe, Tunbridge Wells, Watford, Cheltenham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, London, Coventry, Carlisle, Preston, Perth and Belfast - can be found on the Live Dates page of my site.
Friday, October 21, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
There isn't a lot of free time... or rather, there isn't a lot of predictable free time. Sometimes setting the show up takes two hours, sometimes it takes four. Sometimes we have a hundred miles to drive, sometimes we have three hundred. I can't accurately predict when we're going to arrive at each venue and when, if at all, we'll be able to duck out of there pre-show.
It makes it impossible to arrange a playdate in advance and means the best I can ever do is really a more spontaneous, pre-show game of darts... something I've managed in Norwich, Shrewsbury and, Aldershot.
In Aldershot I was delighted to discover a dartboard backstage. This was perfect for me because when the technical side of the show is being set up I have to be around but I don't have to actually be there the whole time. So I could play for 20 minutes, go and help focus a projector and then return to play. I played all through the interval. It's the perfect pre-show ritual.
I mentioned it on twitter (my apologies to all those people who seem to find the mere mention of darts distressing in some way) and mused that if every venue had a backstage dartboard I'd be a very happy man.
And my prayers were answered. Jamie Caven - Jabba180 on twitter - got in touch and said he was coming to the show in Derby and reckoned he could bring a Unicorn On Tour with him. I'd never heard of the 'on tour' but essentially it's a contraption that straps to a door and turns it into a mounting for a dartboard.
So last night my dream came true and Jamie turned up with an on tour - and some other goodies - and my dressing room became a darts room. I'm a very happy boy.
I'm also a bit of a fan boy. Because Jamie is a seriously impressive darts player. In that he's one of the top ranked players in the world. But you don't even have to be into darts to find Jamie impressive. I won't give you his whole life story... but I will tell you that he got stung by a bee when he was a kid... and as a result he's blind in one eye.
Blind in one eye. Professional darts player. That's just ridiculous. He throws tungsten arrows through 3D space... with vision in only one eye. And he's bloody brilliant at it. When he draws back his throwing arm he loses sight of his dart and only sees it again on the forward motion. Whether you're into darts or not, that is awe-inspiring.
Having set the board up he encouraged me to throw some darts. I was nervous - in that fanboy way - but they weren't bad. Especially for first-darts-of-the-day. I threw another three. The third one hit the treble twenty. I was relieved not to have humiliated myself in his company.
After a while Jamie took my darts off me and had a go too. His normal darts are 23 grams. Mine are 26. His are stick thin, like tiny pencils, mine are chunky, nubby, stumpy things. Within three or four minutes he'd thrown a 180. That's ridiculous.
Anyway... I'm hugely grateful to him and his wife Debbie (who isn't in the photos because she took them) and to UnicornDarts for the gift. Every theatre now has a backstage dartboard and this tour - already the most enjoyable I've done - just got even easier.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
In Edinburgh, at the festival, you can't help but be aware of reviews. Even those people who say they don't want to read them know there's something they're trying to avoid reading.
But on tour, you don't really give it a second thought. I never ask if we have any reviewers in because there's no point. It's not as though I'd change the show if I knew they were there. I know it sounds cheesy but we try and do the best show every night, whatever the circumstances.
Anyway... I had no idea we'd been reviewed until this morning when I was having my breakfast in Bedford (which is just a ford away from the best place to have breakfast) and as I flicked through the paper I happened upon it. It's a review of the Aldershot show and it's lovely.
"Dave Gorman's latest offering, Powerpoint Presentation, is a much-needed reminder of how a truly gifted performer can delve beyond clever punchlines and make us look afresh at the world. The nearest thing we have to that late, great American raconteur, Spalding Gray, he turns monomania into the most compelling and uplifting of confessionals.
"The man who taught us about the mysteries of the Googlewhack takes off on another technological journey in this show using a screen and projector as his silent foil. The techie display however, never comes close to swamping the human element. Each intricately crafted routine becomes a masterclass in timing..."
Which is all rather lovely. I'm a huge admirer of Spalding Gray so to be included in the same breath as him is absolutely thrilling. Truly. I'm chuffed.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
We Brits are a self-deprecating bunch. As I tend to tweet about what I'm up to - and right now I'm on tour - that means I've been tweeting about my travels.
And I've noticed that whenever I mention that I'm heading to a town - any British town - I instantly get a load of replies from people saying, "I wouldn't bother heading there if I were you... it's horrible!"
And these tweets come from locals. Not from people in the town just up the road. From people who live there. Because if there's one thing that unites Britain, it's our inability to like wherever it is we're from. It seems to be a knee-jerk reaction for people who just automatically dislike the town they live in.
Which makes me wonder a) why they live there and b) quite what delights they think the other towns of Britain possess.
But also... well, it seems to misunderstand the purpose of my visit. I'm not going to hang out in the centre of town watching youths drink cider. I'm going to a theatre to do my job. Which is, y'know... kinda fun.
Even if it's true that a particular town is horrible, the chances are that the people who buy tickets to come and sit in the theatre there aren't. They tend to be lovely. So I get to see a lovely side of the place. All of them. I certainly have so far.
I think it also relates to the peculiar idea people have that I'm somehow picking and choosing which towns I visit. The prosaic truth, of course, is that, like all self-employed people I'm going where the work is.
I make myself available for touring... some theatres book the show... and... um, that's it.
I don't research each town to see that its residents are delighted and proud to call it home first before deciding to accept the booking. If I did, I wouldn't end up accepting many gigs... British people hate their home towns far too much for that.
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Touring is very glamorous. We stayed in a fancy hotel in Portsmouth.
So fancy it had an illustrious bar.
And tonight we're playing in a hexagon.
Having a wonderful time.
Your ever loving son,
As it happens, I really am loving it. Jay, Kumar (my tour manager) and I make for a happy vanload of jolly, mild-mannered sorts so while most touring has had the ennui of travel punctuated by the fun of gigs, this is more the fun of travel punctuated by the even-more-fun of gigs.
Come and join us some time in Salisbury, Aldershot, Bedford, Derby, Sheffield, Bradford, Newcastle, Cardiff, Manchester, Liverpool, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Nottingham, Cambridge, Southend, Dorking, Brighton, Milton Keynes, Guildford, Bournemouth, Dublin, Birmingham, Oxford, York, Middlesbrough, Bristol, High Wycombe, Tunbridge Wells, Watford, Cheltenham, Wolverhampton, Leicester, London, Coventry, Carlisle, Preston, Perth or Belfast...