The exciting thing about bringing a show to a new country is that you wipe the slate clean. You start with no real reputation to back you up. Just some strangers taking a punt on you by buying a ticket.
The truth is that in the UK, audiences will give me a bit of a headstart. It's a headstart I don't get - that I haven't earned - here. It puts you on your mettle and ensures that you put the work in. I'm glad to say I've been rewarded so far. The show is going great guns.
There's no way of posting a positive review without seeming boastful... so here, um, boastfully, is some proof that things are going well: a review from the Montreal Gazette. That's nice - and compared to many, it's refreshingly light on spoilers too.
"Far from a gimmick, using the slides proves to be a particularly effective comedic tool, especially in the facility it gives Gorman to quickly pile up visual evidence to buttress whatever point he’s arguing for or against.But I'm not just doing the one man show while I'm here, I also have some short stand-up sets to deal with. I can't take a bit of my show and do that in a one-man-and-a-mic comedy club set-up so instead I've been playing with different bits of material.
You can take it all at face value, simply as comedy, and Dave Gorman’s PowerPoint Presentation is an unmitigated success on that level. But there is also a subversive, culture-jamming spirit at play in Gorman’s presentation, particularly when he trains his sights on the worlds of media (social and mainstream) and marketing. Leaving the show, I couldn’t help shake the feeling that those segments should become mandatory viewing in media literacy classes everywhere.
Gorman is also about as polished a performer as you’ll see at Just for Laughs, betraying none of the side-effects of the shabby, alt-comedy ethos that can occasionally hamper some of the too-cool-for-you performances at the festival’s edgier Zoofest cousin. I don’t think I heard him hem or haw a single time during the hour-plus running time of the show. (And I could have easily sat through another hour.) There’s something to be said for consistently applying that level of professionalism to one’s craft, comedy or otherwise. Trust me, we in the audience notice – and appreciate it."
It hasn't been as easy a transition. Indeed, it's no exaggeration to say that the first short set I did here was the worst gig I'd had for about ten years. A routine that has never failed just flatlined. Nothing.
I'd left my one-man-show feeling like the funniest man on earth and then an hour later I was feeling like the least.
Yet again, that's a surefire way of putting you on your mettle. I added in some extra sets and made a few adjustments - tiny things in the performance - and since then each set has gone better than the last. Well, the second one had to be better than the first... but it wasn't just better it was... well, it was okay... but the third was good and the fourth one was really good with the routine that had died in the first suddenly going down a storm.
The same words. The same routine. In the same club. Just two nights later. Going down a storm. It's in the details. This is why comedy is just such a fascinating thing to practice.
Now that I've worked that bit out it's far easier to relax. It's all fun from here on in.
The festival is changing shape. Just For Laughs has been very much Juste Pour Rire so far with only a smattering of English-language shows around. (If you're in Montreal I highly recommend Sam Simmons... although he is on at the same time as me so, y'know... I don't want to recommend him too highly!)
But yesterday and today more acts from America, Britain, Ireland and Australia have been arriving in numbers. A lot of English language shows start tonight. Familiar faces are everywhere. The buzz around the hotel is completely different. It's been nice being a bit of English-language exotica at Juste Pour Rire. But we're not the side-salad anymore... we're a part of the main course.