Wednesday, December 28, 2005


Stafford Rock BalancesI'm having a relaxing time doing not very much over the festive season which is making for a very nice change compared to the frantic way I spent the last few months. I'm sure that any regular reader of this page will be delighted to know that I have done a bit of UK based rock balancing.

After an intense few months of work I'm in no rush to race back into things so I'm trying to be a bit picky about agreeing to any work commitments so it's just going to be a mix of old favourites I enjoy doing or new things that I'm confident will be more fun than anything else.

A good example of the latter is a new Radio 4 show; Banter. It's hosted by Andrew Collins and features Richard Herring as a regular panellist all of which leads me to believe it should be fun. It involves a studio audience so if you're interested in being there (it's in London) on January 15th, take a lookee in here.

From January 30th to February 3rd I'll be having a few early mornings and returning to Channel 5's The Wright Stuff. They also have a studio audience so if early morning topical discussion floats your boat you can call 020 7284 7710/7715.

I hope you have a happy new year.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Valid all year

Once upon a time, before I was wearing a beard, I was at a do and Noddy Holder came up to me and said, "I like your sideburns." This made me very happy because no-one knows sideburns better than Noddy Holder. This week I was at a do and Sir Peter Blake approached me, saying, "you look like a painter." It gave me a very similar thrill. He was a lovely gent.

It's been two years since I've been to a Christmas party. That's odd.

As Christmas approaches and the end of the year hoves into view the temptation to look back on 2005 and reflect grows ever stronger. It's been another strange year... when I started performing my Googlewhack Adventure back in early 2003 I certainly didn't imagine that I'd still be touring it nearly 3 years later. But then I don't think I could ever have imagined it having quite the international appeal it seems to have had and it's that that has kept it on tour for so long. Now, 367 shows, a book and 2 book tours later I suspect that it's finally over. I have been offered some further dates in the States but I've decided to say no and to stay put for a while. It's time for a new challenge. I don't know what yet... but I'm enjoying not knowing what.

At the start of the year I wrote something about the novelty glasses that had appeared on New Year's Eve. It seemed to me - and it still does - that these glasses are very specific to our age. The ten years from 2000 to 2009 are the first that have had the double 0 in the middle in the age of mass production and so these must be the first years in which such items have been widely available. And from the year 2010 they will disappear once more, not to return for many years. I think this means they should be celebrated while it is still possible to do so and while I saw many pairs on New Year's Eve last year I'm sad to say that I haven't see many during the year itself.

It's as if people have treated them as nothing but a one-day novelty when actually, more than any other item, they are clearly valid for the whole year. I've certainly treated my two pairs as such. They came with me to LA back in March. They came with me to Niagara Falls in April, too. I had them with me in San Francisco, Cleveland and Aurora too. They came with me to The Grand Canyon, they revisited LA and they were still with me when the tour ended in Seattle. I'm wearing them right now as I type this. But I'll discard them when the year is out... when they've served their full 365 day term and not before.

I hope you have a great Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa/whatever. I wish you well for 2006, too. I don't know what the year will bring, but hopefully it will involve something I'll want to tell you about one way or another. Pip pip.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

No longer on tour with...

As my tour is over, I've obviously stopped writing On Tour With Dave Gorman for the Guardian. The final piece is in today. I enjoyed writing them - it felt like I was sending a postcard to thousands of people each week and it was nice to stay in touch with Blighty. While I'm not very keen on further travels right now, I hope I'll be able to do more of this kind of thing in the future.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

My International Fridge Magnet Collection

Now that I'm back I've updated my international fridge magnet collection:
My International Fridge Magnet Collection, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Nearly over

When I read something and I know the voice of the person who wrote it (like this for instance) then that's the voice I hear in my head as I'm reading. If you're the same and you're imagining my dulcet tones right now then for the sake of accuracy I ought to tell you that you'll need to imagine it a little croakier than normal and with the odd - ack - wince of pain too.

I wrote recently about my annoyance at discovering that the American producers had sold two shows a day to several of the venues on the US tour. It was particularly annoying because when they were promoting the show in New York they were very aware of the problems associated with doing that but several months later, perhaps with their thoughts elsewhere, they seemed to forget all about it. Well, on the final day of the tour it finally proved to be a real problem.

On Saturday there was a 5 o'clock show and a 9 o'clock show. Part way through the first show I felt something crack at the back of my throat and was then in pain for the final 40 or 50 minutes. When I came off stage I wanted to see a doctor because I was naturally concerned about doing any permanent damage. It was hastily arranged and a mad dash across town took me to a surgery in Ballard for an examination.

It turned out that the overuse of my throat has given me a nodule. I was a bit panicked when I heard this. "Nodule" wasn't a word I wanted to hear because I was pretty sure that years ago Elton John's career had been threatened by the presence of nodules on his throat. The doctor explained that it's basically equivalent to a callus and that it had cracked during the last show which accounted for the pain. He reassured me that while it would hurt to perform the show again it wouldn't do any permanent damage and he gave me something to help ease the pain a little. The show went ahead. The crowd were one of the best of the run which is lucky because the show was, understandably, not one of the best I'd done - hey, I had an open wound on my throat - but they had enough energy to make up for my slight wobbles.

All in all it made for a strange and dramatic end to the rollercoaster ride that was my Googlewhack Adventure. I spent Sunday morning in Fremont (see pic) which was fantastic. They have a Sunday Market there that reminded me of Spitalfields - a regular Sunday morning haunt for me in London - and I felt like I was already home. I could happily live in Fremont.

I had an uneventful flight home. Do you remember when BA were cancelling flights because their caterers were on strike? That feels like a long time ago. That was what was happening when I flew out to the States. When they served a meal on the flight home I suddenly realised how long I'd been away. I'm home now. I'm resting my voice. I'm resting everything.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Floating Bridge

Floating Bridge, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

The final day and the final two shows. When I started performing this show back in March 2003 I had no idea it was going to so dominate my life. In the last 2 and three quarter years I've performed the show 365 times not to mention writing the book and doing two book tours. By the end of tonight it will be 367 shows.

Seattle has provided me with some lovely treats for the final week. I've written before about how much I enjoy it when one of the people involved in the show gets to see it (most recently here) and it's happened for the last two nights.

Lisa and Tom, also known as Hippoc@mpi Wallp@per came along on Thursday night and it was great to be able to spend some time with them afterwards.

The other Seattle based googlewhack, Optic@lly Scriveners, belonged to John and Chris who did get along to see the show in New York back in January but came along again last night with a large group of friends. Here we are with a small number of their posse.

Right. Now I have to pack.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

3 to go...

Just three more days and four more shows and the googlewhack adventure will finally come to rest. How strange to have been saying those words over and over again for so long and to so many people. Odd. The Seattle run is proving to be a fine send off for the show. While the size of the audience can vary greatly they always seem to be up for it and the show is really rattling along which is great because I'd hate for it to end on a damp squib.

There's a very nice review in The Stranger today. It'll make you proud to be British. If indeed you are British. If you're not, it'll make you wish you were. It's here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Golden Gardens Rock Balance

Tossed Salad & Scrambled Eggs

Tossed Salad & Scrambled Eggs, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Monday, December 5, 2005

Seattle By Night

Seattle By Night, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Seattle is nice

I'm really enjoying Seattle. The second show was probably one of the best so far on this tour and really seemed to rattle along. There's a good review of the first show in the Seattle Times this morning too so it feels like we've hit the ground running.

I always like it when reviewers understand that it isn't really a show about computers and this reviewer definitely gets that. I know that the poster-quote they'll use will be, "a brilliant, humanistic tale of procrastinating, enabling, and side-splitting storytelling", but the most exciting part for me was the news that "Gorman is not inherently geeky". You see; I'm not a geek. It's official; it's in the Seattle Times. So there.

The whole review is on the reviews page.

A book I like

This is quite possibly the most fascinating book I've read all year. Using the analytical eye of an economist to look at the world it constantly challenges you to look beyond your gut reaction and to see things as they actually are. If drug dealers are all making easy money, why do so many of them live with their Mom? You'll definitely find yourself liberally quoting facts from it over dinner. Unless you eat alone. In which case you'll be thinking about it.

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

See all the books I've recommended so far here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Seattle starts

I was very happy with the first show here in Seattle. When I performed in Green Bay following a short break I was disappointed by myself for allowing the show to get a bit too loose and unfocussed so I was determined not to make the same mistake here and spent a good part of yesterday - when I wasn't doing press - trying to ensure that I was thinking about the show and not taking it for granted. It was time well spent and although I went slightly awry when discussing creationism the show was soon back on track and everything else was as tight as it should be. A nice crowd and a good show.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

At Seattle Airport

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ta ta LA

I used to detest Los Angeles... it seemed like a soulless place; shiny on the outside but with nothing much to offer but every time I come here I find I like it more than the last and it's just occurred to me that I think I actually like it. I can't think why.LA Sunset.

Hollywood Hills Rock Balances 2 & 3Still, I'll be glad to be heading to Seattle tomorrow, as much as anything because this is supposed to be a tour and it doesn't feel like one when I'm basically sitting on my thumbs, taking photographs, balancing rocks and taking photographs of rocks I've balanced. (Not all at the same time you understand; you can't do the others if you're sitting on your thumbs.)

This will be the final two weeks of the tour and - in all probability - the final two weeks of this show, not just for now, but for good. It's been the dominant part of my working life for a goodly while now and it's strange seeing the end of the rollercoaster ride in sight.

Motel Grand

Motel Grand, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Minimal Pelican

Minimal Pelican, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Giving thanks

Happy Thanksgiving - if you're that way inclined. This is my third Thanksgiving and it's always an odd experience. The final episode of Genius went out this evening. That's been odd too; being overseas while the series has been broadcast... although I don't know why it seems odd... it's not as though, if I'd been in the UK, I'd have cycled over to the BBC each Thursday to press the play button on the tape recorder. (Yes, I'm sure that's what they use.)

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Fishermen, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Ta ta Green Bay

The run in Green Bay was all too short. I was expecting it to be freezing cold and inhospitable and - because I know about the Green Bay Packers being a huge NFL team I was expecting it to be a big city too. Instead we had unseasonably pleasant weather and it was a nice small friendly town that manages to sell out a 70,000 seat stadium every game even though the population is only just over 100,000.

The theatre was an amazingly attractive building and everything about the organisation from the management to the technical staff were really good at their jobs. Which meant I was particularly disappointed with myself for giving a bad performance on the opening night. It's the first time in a long time that I've been unhappy with myself onstage and I really didn't think I did the job well enough.

The next two shows were great though and in spite of my concerns the first show received a good review in the Green Bay Press Gazette so I shouldn't complain.

I've now flown to LA and like everyone in LA, I'm here to "take some meetings." Really. It sounds much more impressive than it is.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Too early

I had a very early start yesterday as I was promoting the Green Bay shows on a breakfast TV show at 5.30am. After that I had a bunch of radio shows to visit and another TV show to do. I especially enjoyed the last one (WAPL?) as I was sitting in with the hosts for a whole hour instead of the usual in-and-out 5 minutes.

Setting up the technical side of the show went smoothly and the theatre is probably the most beautiful I've worked in for some time.


Motel, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Night Bowling

Night Bowling, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005


Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me offering me copies of Genius but I've managed to make my computer work properly with the BBC player and so I've now heard the second episode. Richard Madeley was every bit as funny as I remember him.

I've been in Chicago for quite a while now which is fine because Chicago is a grand place to be but odd because it wasn't a scheduled stop on the tour and I haven't been doing any work so it feels rather like the brakes have been applied. But today we fly to Green Bay to resume the tour - if only for a few days. I've bought some woolly gloves.

Friday, November 4, 2005

The Corn Cobs

The Corn Cobs, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Thursday, November 3, 2005


I'm still in Chicago where I'm struggling to make the BBC's listen again feature work on my computer because, oddly enough, I want to listen to episode two of Genius. I know that might sound odd because obviously I was there so I should know what happened but Richard Madeley was an inspired guest and it ended up being one of the longest recordings as a result... with a lot of the time being taken up by me giggling. I don't know how I would have gone about trying to cut it down to a fluid 30 minutes and thankfully I didn't have to do that job, but someone did and I'm very curious to discover how it came out.

Chicago at Night, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Tuesday, November 1, 2005

A book I like...

Oscar Wilde meets Ian Fleming. It's a camp, witty, dark and amoral tale about an Edwardian-era James Bond but more importantly it's a real ripping yarn. I was about to say that I hope Mark Gatiss isn't too busy being one of the League of Gentlemen to send Lucifer Box off on further adventures, when I discovered that he already has

The Vesuvius Club; A Lucifer Box Novel

If you're that way inclined, it's also available as a graphic novel.


See all the books I've recommended so far here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

My first ever...

I made my first ever jack o'lantern. I'm very happy with it. Happy Halloween.

Jack O'Lantern, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Fish 2, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ah... so you do read it

I sometimes wonder if anyone reads this page or whether I bother typing in this nonsense and adding the pictures for no reason. And then I post something that sparks a number of e-mails and I realise that there are a few people out there reading this. My last entry was one of those.

It prompted three types of e-mail. The first came from angry residents of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, telling me that the hurricane wasn't going to strike until after the shows and accusing me of using the hurricane as an excuse to cancel shows because I had a sore throat. Believe me, if I was sneaky enough to do that, I also think I'd be clever enough to not mention the sore throat in the first place. It's like saying the dog ate my homework... which incidentally, I hadn't done.

The decision to cancel the shows was made on Wednesday before I'd done the final two shows in Gainesville - so I was in full voice at the time - and the decision wasn't taken by me. On Wednesday the media were predicting that Wilma would be in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday or Sunday. The venue and the show's producers couldn't really send us there knowing that a hurricane was predicted because they would have to be responsible for us being safely evacuated had it been necessary so they decided not to send us in there.

The second type of response also came from people in that area asking me if the shows were going to be rescheduled. The answer is that I don't know... but I doubt it. If it was in the UK - I'm sure it would be, because I live there, can work there whenever and can travel to wherever in a matter of hours. My time in the US is limited, my work-visa is limited and the costs of coming back to Florida just to stage three or four shows is probably prohibitive. If it can be rearranged while I'm here then I'd love it to be... Fort Lauderdale sounds like a great place and I'm sorry not to be spending some time there.

The third type of response I got was from people telling me about the naming of hurricanes and answering my question about what happened between Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. Thanks for that.

As it happened the hurricane slowed down and lost a lot of strength - alhough it still did a lot of damage. It didn't hit the Fort Lauderdale area until Sunday night/Monday morning so the shows would have been unaffected but our travel out of the area would have been and I don't know how many people would have wanted to come and see the show when they had a weather channel to watch on the TV and then outside their window. Heigh ho.

In the meantime the tour is now on Plan B (or maybe it's C or D) and we've been put up in Chicago for a while. It's a great city but having spent the last chunk of time in Arizona and briefly Florida, the cold is definitely a shock to the system.

Meanwhile, Genius, the Radio 4 show that I recorded earlier this year, starts its run on Thursday... the guest in episode one is Paul Daniels. It feels a bit weird being out of the country while it happens although I'm not sure why. Anyway... I hope you can listen to it and I hope you enjoy it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


In the UK it would be impossible for one of my shows to be arranged between a venue and a producer without me knowing about it and agreeing to it. You'd think that would be obvious wouldn't you ... after all, it's me that actually has to do it. Unfortunately that lesson has taken my American producers some time to learn.

Before this tour started I discovered that they had sold 8 shows a week to venues. It's nice to know that the demand was there but it's also not possible for me to perform this particular show that often. If you haven't seen it, it probably sounds like I'm moaning because, surely, it's just talking right? But it isn't really. It's a really physical show, it feels like going to the gym every night, and there are several sustained rants of blood, guts and fury that tear my throat apart each night.

I spend a lot of time between shows taking medicines to help my voice recover from the damage the last show did before then repeating, and worsening, the damage that night. For this reason I've never relished doing the show twice in one day and would want to avoid it whenever possible. Sadly my American producers had sold two-show-days several times to venues without bothering to ask me if it was okay. It must be tempting as a salesman to sell as much as you can to people... especially if you're not the person who's actually going to have to do it.

Most of these situations were resolved before the tour started but there were a few places where that wasn't really an option and Gainesville was one of those. Most of the venues on this tour are taking the show for a week or two which offers some flexibility... but Gainesville had booked 3 shows in 2 days. I did a 7.30 show on Tuesday while on Wednesday there was a 7.30 and a 10pm show... which gave me a 30 minute break before starting again. Twenty minutes in I was in pain and this morning I can't really talk much. If I had a show tonight I think I'd be forced to cancel it... but I haven't, more on that later.

What makes this all the more frustrating is that I don't think the late show should have gone ahead at all. I looked in the local listings papers and none of them mentioned that the late show even existed. The 7.30 show was there but not the 10pm. If one paper hadn't listed it, it would look like an error on their part but when all three of the local papers haven't listed a show it seems more likely that the venue haven't sent them the correct information. And it was reflected in the ticket sales.

On Tuesday we'd sold 4 tickets for the late show on Wednesday. By Wednesday that had doubled. Woo hoo. By show time it was around 18 people. It's as if a wealthy fool had booked that late show especially for him and his friends and insisted that information about its existence shouldn't leak out into the public domain.

Amazingly, it went well... although not as well as either of the two early shows had gone. But this morning I'm in pain, I can't talk and it hurts when I swallow and I have to wonder whether or not it was worth it. Of course the audience who turned up deserved a show... but shouldn't the venue have some responsibility in this situation also? Why buy a show into your venue and then not try to sell it to the public?

This afternoon I was supposed to be flying to Fort Lauderdale for shows tonight through Sunday but as Hurricane Wilma is also thinking of heading there this weekend, the venue and the producers have decided in their wisdom that it's unwise for us to go there and the shows have been cancelled. I've never had a show cancelled because of a hurricane before. How exciting. I hope it doesn't wreak too much havoc, mind.

Incidentally, if they name these things alphabetically, how did we get so quickly from Katrina, via Rita, to Wilma wihout hearing much about hurricanes L, M, N, O, P, Q, S, T, U and V?

We're staying put in Gainesville for another day while we work out a Plan B. I'll spend today being silent and sampling the various lozenges available in the various pharmacies in the hope that one of them can work magical restorative powers for my voice.

Pebble Balance

Pebble Balance, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Monday, October 17, 2005


Yet again I was surprised by how responsive the audience were for the Sunday matinee show. In most of the cities we visit on this tour the run ends with a Sunday matinee which I expected to be a bit a damp squib but instead it is turning out to be a really enjoyable way to bid farewell to each venue.

Smirnoff make vodka don't they? When I see the Smirnoff brand on a bottle I think it's reasonable to assume that it probably contains vodka. I mean, that's what they do. I'm not much of an alcopop consumer but I was pretty sure that I knew that Smirnoff Ice was some kind of vodka drink because, well, because it has Smirnoff on the label.

Not in America it's not.

A friend had a bottle the other day and on tasting it remarked, "that's odd... it doesn't taste the same as it does in England." They took another swig, pulled a face and took a look at the label where they were surprised to see some small print declaring it to be a 'flavored beer drink.' We were slightly aghast at this... it made no mention of vodka being in there... in fact it didn't appear to contain anything that it should have done. Not even the 'u' in flavour.

If you don't believe me, check out their own F.A.Q. where, amongst the self serving questions, you'll discover that vodka isn't in Smirnoff Ice because it was "created as a beer alternative" ... unless you're buying it in Canada, Brazil, Ireland, South Africa or of course England when yes, it does actually contain vodka.

There's probably some law preventing Smirnoff (and other alcopop makers) from selling them with spirits in here in America but is it reasonable to sell two identical looking - but radically different - products in two different countries. It's like picking up a tube of Pringles and then discovering that, in America, they don't actually contain any potato. Or buying a jar of Marmite and discovering that, heaven forfend, it isn't a yeast extract.

It is better to have no Marmite here at all than it is to have some phoney not-Marmite-in-a-Marmite-jar confusing innocent consumers and it would surely be better to not have this weird non-vodka-Smirnoff drink too.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


One of the questions I hear regularly from people after the show - especially here in America - is "How many words do you actually say?" or "How can you say so much so fast?" I don't know the answer because there isn't a script - the words aren't on paper anywhere and so there's no way of counting them but I do know that it's a relatively long show and that I get through a lot of words-per-minute.

I mention this because yesterday I wasn't alone onstage as the show was being signed for the hard of hearing also. I should think this is one of the hardest shows going to sign for. Not only are there a lot of words happening very quickly but there are also several words for which there isn't a specific sign. There isn't really time for the signer to spell coelacanth and while a synonym might do for bamboozled, say, a synonym isn't quite right because it is the arcane nature of the words involved that made them googlewhacks.

The signer - a really nice woman called Patti - was great and we spoke before the show about the best way of doing it as she'd been to see the show the day before. Fortunately there's a lot of visual information in the show as well, so in the brief interludes when the pace of the show really gets going the best way of Patti following the show was to just indicate towards the screen and let it speak for itself.

I'll be sorry to leave Scottsdale. It's been the most enjoyable stop on the tour so far and the audiences have been great - especially this last Friday. It's been like being on holiday with much more to occuppy a traveller than in our previous stops.

One more show to go and then a horrible overnight flight to Florida.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Fish 1, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Friday, October 14, 2005


I took a drive out to the Grand Canyon on Wednesday. It was a 500 mile round trip but it was definitely worth it. The show has, in one way or another, now taken me to see The Grand Canyon, The Great Wall of China and Niagara Falls which I stupidly thought were all "7 Wonders of the World" © ®

It turns out that I'm completely wrong and my naive assumption that I'd now seen 3/7 of the world's wonders is incorrect. I was wondering what else qualifies as a "Wonder of the World" © ® so I had a quick look around the internet using some search engine or another (I can't remember which) and discovered that there are several different lists. The only seven that seem to enjoy a broad agreement are the seven ancient wonders of the world ... of which only the Great Pyramid of Giza is still standing so when it comes to viewing the "7 Ancient Wonders of the World" © ® it's only possible to see 1/7th of them and I haven't even done that.

Most people seem to have the Grand Canyon on a list of Natural Wonders though I'm surprised that Niagara Falls doesn't makes it on to that list and while The Great Wall of China is obviously not a natural wonder, I'm amazed that it rarely gets a mention on any of the lists because it's definitely one of the most wondrous things I've ever seen.

It seems that the original "7 Wonders of the World" © ® list was compiled by Greeks way back when and they didn't know that the Great Wall of China existed (or Stonehenge for that matter) and so it didn't make it on to the list. But why, as the collective knowledge of the world grew, people didn't promote the Great Wall of China and demote The Lighthouse of Alexandria, say (I don't know, I've never seen it) or why the world didn't decide that there were now 8 Wonders of the World doesn't make much sense to me.

Anyway... as far as Natural Wonders of the World go, I've now seen my first official Wonder © ® and the Canyon is something truly remarkable to behold. I took a light aircraft flight over it and loved every minute of it... even the minutes when I was tightly gripping the seat in front of me because of the turbulence. I'd recommend it to anyone.

Back in April I wrote about how it was impossible to capture Niagara Falls in a photograph but impossible not to try over and over again to do so. It was the same with the Grand Canyon - I took hundreds of photos but none of them convey the magnitude of it properly.

Here's one attempt:

Grand Canyon

and here's a picture of me dangling my feet over the edge of the most impressive hole I've ever dangled my feet over the edge of:

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

My mate...

I'm continuing to enjoy my time in Scottsdale. This really is a beautiful part of the world and the most relaxed I've been on the tour. To make things even better I've had the good fortune to be joined by a couple of friends from the UK who brought a jar of Marmite. Gorgeous sunshine and the yeast extract of my dreams... what more could a man ask for? It's the best of both worlds.

Quite a backlog of e-mails had built up in the last week. As I made my way through it I learned that the episode of the retro-panel-game What's My Line? that I took part in back in August was broadcast a few days ago and, more surprisingly, that I was recently the answer to a question on The Weakest Link. How odd.

Friday, October 7, 2005


I'm enjoying Scottsdale much more than I enjoyed Aurora... but then that isn't difficult. This is a truly beautiful part of the world and I took the opportunity on Monday to drive out to a town called Sedona and to visit Slide Rock Creek. I've seen this landscape before, but only in a Roadrunner cartoon. It really is spectacular. And the 150 mile drive was better than a day of mini-golf.

The city of Scottsdale also offers plenty to see and do... and here's some love from me to you.

The shows are going well here also with a great venue that really fits the show and two great audiences so far. People had warned me about discussing Creationism here as it's perceived by others as being a place where Creationism is likely to be rife. But so far, that part of the show has gone over really well and without the awkwardness that I sometimes perceived in Cleveland, say.

Maybe I've subtly adjusted how I deliver this show over the last few weeks to account for the potential to offend or maybe the people of Scottsdale are just more comfortable with the subject being discussed. Maybe they're aware that other parts of America think they're more likely to be Creationists and so enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate with a chuckle that they're not. Or maybe tonight the audience will storm out in protest and I've just been lucky so far.

I had a surprise waiting for me after the show last night in the shape of yet another Dave Gorman. He's the 109th namesake that I've now met. It seems so odd to me that so many years after I stopped looking for them they continue to come and find me. I was originally trying to find 54 (one for every card in the deck, including the jokers) and once I'd achieved that, naturally, I stopped looking. I completed a second deck's worth back in April in Toronto, and now, I guess a third deck has been started. It was a pleasure to meet him and here we are.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

Rock Balance

Rock Balance, originally uploaded by Dave Gorman.

Monday, October 3, 2005

Fare thee well, Aurora

Relations between me and the venue turned a little sour on the final day - not that they were ever wonderful. The contract we have with the venue stipulates that publicity for the show will be posted in front of the theatre which I would have thought was an unnecessary stipulation until I visited Aurora where the fact that they were a theatre wasn't even on the front of the building.

This led to a situation where we decided to threaten to cancel the show unless they put up signs telling people that the show existed and finally, on the last day, they relented. While every other show had seen 20 paying customers fail to appear with the magic addition of signs to help people that number was cut down to one. As if by magic! Tadaaa! Oh no... it's not magic is it... it's common sense. What followed was a really enjoyable show too.

I was really sceptical about the Sunday matinees being on the schedule before the tour started but they've been consistently good shows so far so, while I don't understand why someone would want to spend their Sunday afternoon in a theatre, it seems that those who do have been great audiences.

It's a shame that things had to get so unpleasant between the venue and us - especially as the technical crew and the ushers and front of house staff were so friendly and easy to work with.

Heigh ho. We're in Scottsdale, Arizona now. It's 1am. It's hot out.

Sunday, October 2, 2005


Last night I did the best and worst shows of my time in Aurora back to back. There was a 7 o'clock show that had a good number of people in, a nice atmosphere and went really smoothly. Probably the best show I've done so far this tour. That was followed by a really small house and a slightly late-night drunken atmosphere and a lot of kind smiles from people who were tired. Very frustrating.

What makes it all the more frustrating is that for three nights running there have been around 20 people missing from each audience. These are people who've bought tickets and then failed to turn up. There are always likely to be a few no-shows for one reason or another but when it's a significant number and it's a regular occurence it's obvious that something isn't right. Every night after the show when I chat to the audience there are always a few stories from people who tell me that they struggled to find the theatre and nearly gave up so that seems as good an explanation as any as to why there are so many people failing to show.

This really shouldn't be possible because theatres are normally, by their nature, showy places. They like to advertise that they exist and they like to advertise the shows they are currently presenting. That doesn't seem to be the case here in Aurora where the front of the venue looks like this. It looks more like a building you'd have to visit to pay a parking fine than a theatre. There isn't one sign on the building to tell people what it is let alone anything advertising the show.

Trying to explain to the venue that people are telling me they can hardly find the place and that some kind of signage might help seems to be met with blank stares and when some of the ticket-buying public fail to turn up they scratch their heads and seem confused by it all. Oh well. The technicians here have been really friendly and easy to work with, the audiences have by and large been great, the reviews have been good... but unfortunately I can't pretend that I'll be unhappy to leave Aurora tonight.

Saturday, October 1, 2005


There's a good review in the Chicago Tribune today which makes the theatre's unhelpful attitude all the more frustrating.

He says, "If there's a funnier, smarter piece of comedy about the Internet - then I haven't seen it" which is very nice of him, although to be fair I'm not sure that "Comedy About The Internet" is really a big genre. Then again, I don't really think the show is about the internet. However, he does add other kind words and the show is, apparently, "uproariously funny" which seems to me to be one of the best ways one's funny can be described.

I'm constantly amused, amazed and flattered by the people reviewers compare me to with this show. I know it's an attempt to explain things to an audience that doesn't know of me... but one day I'll have to compile a list because I think it makes for odd reading. This time I get "a cross of Michael Palin, Eddie Izzard, Dave Eggers and Steve Jobs", yesterday I was compared to Bill Cosby and the New York Times review way back when namechecked David Sedaris, Steve Martin, Salvador Dali and Mussolini! As usual, I've added this latest review to the reviews page.

A book I like...

This is Simon Napier Bell's scurrilous, gossipy memoir of swinging 60s London and beyond. But he was definitely there. Surely anyone who's been rescued from a brothel by Keith Moon is worth hearing from.

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me


See all the books I've recommended so far here.

Friday, September 30, 2005


The first show in Aurora went really well... with a small but really great audience who were into it from the start. The second show was a much more mysterious affair. A group of twenty people failed to show up - presumably because they were wandering around Aurora trying to find the theatre, unaware that the unassuming red-brick building with no signs and no show-advertising was what they were looking for. For the first half hour there was almost no response at all but ever so slowly they started to thaw and by the end of things they were behaving as an audience. Maybe it took them time to adjust to my rhythm or my accent or maybe I started the show in an overly earnest manner or... or who knows. It came good in the end.

I stayed to chat with a few of the audience and a few of them commented on how little promotion they'd seen locally so at least I'm not imagining things. There is however a great review in today's Aurora Beacon News which should help. I'm incredibly flattered by any comparison to Bill Cosby and surely it's a rare thing for a reviewer to tell the readers that he's going to go and see a show again and that he actually intends to pay for a ticket! I've added the full review to the reviews page.

I think I must have gone on a bit too much about the rock and pebble balancing that I've been up to... a Canadian chap who's obviously been reading this page has sent a parcel to the theatre here in Aurora containing some pebbles.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005


Well I know one more thing about Aurora and that's that it is home to a hotel that stinks of sweat and other bodily fluids. I'd never walked into a hotel room and been quite so knocked back by a stench before. Hmmm. Curious that someone might recently have died in my room I visited the room of my Slovenian Tour Manager (he's Slovenian, not the tour) and discovered the same aroma was there also. First purchase: air fresheners. Lovely.

Cleveland ended on a nice note with a great final show on Sunday afternoon to a small but really enthusiastic audience. They even had the good grace to applaud as I entered, unlike one of the Saturday audiences.

I then had a day off on Monday in Aurora. I don't know what you'd do with a day off in Aurora but I went on a bit of a mini-golf marathon, playing a friend on three courses. (2-1 to me yesterday although I'm 3-2 down over all time, since you ask.)

The marketing here in Aurora isn't filling me with much hope. I haven't seen any. The first thing I saw when I arrived at the smelly hotel was a poster for a show in the Copely Theatre after me. I can't help thinking that a poster for my show wouldn't be a good idea. I haven't seen a poster yet and there's nothing outside the theatre to announce that it exists or that the show is on. Hmmm.

I went in to Chicago yesterday to do some press for the show, appearing on a radio show hosted by Mancow (presumably he's so named because he speaks a lot of bull) and on another, friendlier show hosted by Steve Cochrane. The Mancow was an amazing experience. He has a bunch of sidekicks, including one called Turd. Mancow (I don't know his real name) would fade the microphones, say something offensive, then fade them back up again and point at Turd who'd then repeat the comment as though it was his own idea.

While discussing the horrible news story about the US soldier, Lynndie England being sentenced to gaol for abusing Iraqi prisoners (Mancow thinks she should be released because she's "retarded" and after all, "who really cares about the Iraqis?") he faded the mic and said, "I love retarded girls... they're easy... they always say 'yes.'" Then he faded the mics back up and pointed at Turd who repeated the comment so that Mancow could then respond to it. It was all pretty repulsive. I don't think Turd offered one comment of his own during the time I was in the studio. What kind of job is that? Sitting in a studio saying offensive things that someone else has told you to say?

While I can't imagine many Chicagoans are keen on travelling out to visit a city like Aurora (I believe there's quite a lot to do in Chicago as it is) the best press I've seen so far has been in Time Out Chicago. I haven't seen last week's issue but I'm told there was a big feature on the show while this week it gives me the red-star of recommendation and there are a few nice words... in fact it explicitly states that it's "worth the trip to the burbs." How many people will make that trip remains to be seen.

All in all, I doesn't feel as though the venue is trying to sell it to the people of Aurora... in which case I'm sure it would have been easier to take the show to Chicago. Odd.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

You win some...

It's been a relatively eventful few days in Cleveland. The theatre has a seemingly endless supply of pensioner-ushers all of whom seem to be very jolly and good at their job. A few days ago however one of them apparently lost it when watching the show as I was discussing Creationism. He started to rant and rave at the barman about how far out of left-field I was (yes, with my irrational belief in mainstream science and distaste for liars) and was eventually asked to leave the building. Odd.

While the show has gone down well in general yesterday saw one of the hardest shows I've ever had to do. The matinee performance seemed to be ill-starred from the beginning. We had a different House Manager on duty and somehow he seemed not to know what his responsibilities entailed. The audience were left sitting in silence for a minute waiting for him to make an announcement and the show was started with people still at the bar and with the back of the theatre all lit up.

Each of these things is trivial in its way but there's a reason that things are done one way and not the other and it doesn't help the atmosphere to do it badly and if the theatre doesn't behave professionally it tells the audience that the show they're about to see isn't professional either.

The cues at the top of the show were then a little late and somehow all of this led to me walking on stage to no applause... which is odd not because I think I deserve some kind of huge ovation, but theatrical convention would normally see a performer welcomed on to the stage.

The atmosphere didn't improve much from there. It's very strange when you're saying words that have made tens of thousands of people laugh before, in the order in which you normally say them and with the passion and feeling intact and get blank stares back from people who can't imagine how on earth these words could ever be deemed amusing.

There was an evening show a short while later which proved that the story hadn't suddenly been rendered unfunny so how is it that one audience can be so radically different to the others? Was something missing in my performance? Is the House Manager's announcement really so vital that it throws every other part of the show out of whack or is there some weird chemistry that will undo one show every 300 performances? Odd again.

There's one more show to do this afternoon and then we fly to Chicago and then drive on to Aurora. The only thing I know about Aurora is that it's where Wayne lived in Wayne's World.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


There are another couple of reviews of the Cleveland shows. The Free Times summarises the show, almost forgets to say whether he likes it or not, reviews the seating in the theatre (he's right though, the cabaret style seating is a huge annoyance and completely inappropriate to my show) but finally adds that the show is good enough that you will forget that you're in a strange and uncomfortably arranged seat. Scene is a bit more quotable describing it as a "sides splitting journey" and a "cracking good time". Both have been added to the reviews page.

My recent rock and pebble balancing has inspired me to try more. The pebble balancing is much harder. When you pick up a rock you have much more sense of its gravity and weight but the pebbles are so slight and it needs a far steadier hand.

I went to a park with a friend and between us we built a veritable stone-henge of miniature structures. I was quite happy with this stack although there's no way of knowing that it is built out of tiny pebbles - in the photo it could be six feet tall rather than under two inches.

However, a caterpillar lends some nice perspective to this one... unless of course you think there are giant caterpillars roaming around the parks in Cleveland in which case, yes, that stack could also be huge. I was going to call this photo Pillar but my pebble-stacking friend suggested I call it Graduation instead which is much better.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Time off

I've been very happy with the way the show has gone down in Cleveland so far. I seemed to do 4 or 5 interviews a day all through the first week and the reviews of the show have been great and it's gone down really well most nights with 2 or 3 standing ovations along the way but, even with all that on its side, we haven't exactly set the box office alight.

It seems I'm being stalked by vicars. The last two shows both had men of the cloth sitting on the front row - which seems like an unlikely incidence. I asked them both about their views on Creationism, one declined to really answer but the other told me in no uncertain terms that he was Creationist.

I'm not used to meeting this opinion... I've spoken to several men who share their profession in the UK, both during and after the show (and outside the confines of the theatre as well) and never found any of them to be of the Creationist persuasion. It's such a minority point of view at home that it is very difficult to take seriously.

All through the last show, my paranoid mind was thinking that that day's vicar had been sent especially to check the show out because word of the show's anti-creationist material was out. (In actual fact, I'm very careful in the show to point out that it is the lie I believe I was told and the failure to whack his Google that actually earned my ire, not the belief in Creationism. One of the other people I met in the journey was also a Creationist... he's read the book and seen the show and we remain friends, so I'm confident that I've made this point clear in the show. But paranoia can always get you when you're on stage. I'll start an official vicar-watch and let you know if any more turn up.

I tried to maximise my time off, so when the Sunday show was over I jumped in a car and headed out of the city for a bit of a break in Port Clinton about 70 miles west of Cleveland. It was good to get out of the city and into some fresh country air. Being by Lake Erie it provided me with another opportunity for rock-balancing. (see September 8th and September 10th)

MeditationI managed this stack which was okay but I don't think my heart was in it and the result is somehow a little unsatisfactory.

On the way home, I stopped in a small and pretty town called Vermilion and visited the beach. I decided to try balancing some pebbles instead (maybe, I can market this as Pocket-Rock-Balancing!) and achieved a Zen-like calm in building this inch-tall stack.My First Pebble Balance

With my new sense of calm I then tried again with bigger stones and was very happy with this triptych. Vermilion Triptych
The middle of these was particularly satisfying as the top stone would move constantly in the breeze but seemed like it would stay in place for ever. It was certainly still there when I left the area a couple of hours later and returned to Cleveland for tonight's show.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Guardian column

I'm going to be writing a short weekly article about touring the States for the Guardian. Initially I refused to do this until they agreed to change the size and design of their paper but I'm told they have finally complied with my demands and so I've written my first piece. I think the articles will run on Saturdays and I think the first one will be in this week.

There's another good review - this time from the Akron Beacon Journal. I've added it to the reviews page. While it's a positive review it ends with something a little odd:

My only concern is this: Once the press started writing about Gorman and friends' googlewhacks, references to those particular word combinations started showing up on numerous Web sites, making their unique googlewhack status null and void. So as Gorman tells his story in his current show, how does he show the googlewhacks as single Google results on his laptop?

He may be taking creative license with his PowerPoint graphics. Or, maybe he captured the Web pages of single Google results years ago, after he and his pals found the unique word combinations and before the rest of the world knew about them.

What an odd concern to have. Surely it's obvious that the last sentence explains the situation perfectly ... in fact it's the only rational way it could have happened. The rest of the world (well, not all of them) only knew about the googlewhacks because of the show... so obviously the show existed first and that included the images. Her concern only seems to make sense if there is a way in which my story could be known by the world without me being the one who's telling it. How odd? It's hardly a chicken-and-egg style mystery is it?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Plain Dealing

The second show here in Cleveland seemed to go over well but I was frustrated because I felt let down by many technical things and I know that had they gone right the audience would have had a better time.

Another event had taken place in the theatre that afternoon and it seems that some settings on the projector and on the desk had been reset. This meant the images didn't have the quality they should for a professional show and the sound effects that accompany the pictures were incredibly quiet too. There were a few times where I couldn't hear the sound effect so didn't know if the image had changed or not and had to have a sneaky look behind me to check rather than just rattling along with the show.

If the images don't arrive with snap and clarity in a show like this it's like a stand-up comedian mumbling his punchlines... the audience still have all the information to find the humour but it just isn't as funny. Very frustrating.

15 minutes before the end of the show the sound failed completely so I was off mic for a while. It's a show that's already quite damaging to my voice so I was worried about the damage I might do to myself trying to fill the room without amplification but when you're in full flow there's not a lot of choice and you just have to carry on.

It made for a rather odd ending. When the show ends, the lights come up and some music plays and people take their cue and leave. Of course with no sound there was no music and even though the show was clearly over and the house lights were up some of the audience found themselves sitting watching an empty stage for a while. I'm not sure what they thought was about to happen. Hmmm.

There is a good review in Cleveland's main paper, The Plain Dealer this morning though... the full thing is on the reviews page but here's the pull quote the pr people will want to use:

"I can urge you to get out of the house and away from your computer (as far away as possible, if you know what's good for you) and to get to the theater to bear witness to one of the most whimsical, profane and marvellous evenings"

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The key word being "something"

Cleveland is a much bigger city than Napa and with much more media available it means I have a much heavier schedule of interviews - and hopefully - bigger crowds as a result. This morning I did a series of interviews on a bunch of radio stations that you'd only really find in America.

Starting at just after 7am I was on WMMS (Rock) then WGAR (Country) then WTAM (Talk) and WMVX (Mix) - all within a space of 90 minutes before travelling to WKYC - the local NBC affiliate for a TV show called Good Company. And I hope I was. Even if I was looking like a scruffy tourist.

The show did get off to a good start on the first night. There was a nicely fullish house and generally there was a great reaction. There was definitely some discomfort in the room when I was discussing Creationism although I can't quite work out the nature of it. But it didn't seem to do the overall reaction any harm and there was something of a standing ovation at the end.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


I wrote yesterday about the rare pleasure of a home-cooked meal while on tour so you can imagine my delight on arriving at my Cleveland hotel this evening to discover a kitchen! It's not the best kitchen in the world but at least it means that some simple food can be rustled up now and again. And that a 3am sandwich is available. And toast. This is exciting.

As there's a kitchen there are also some basics - such as salt and pepper - provided. Now, if you were trying to give weary travellers the feel of home, would you choose to give them salt and pepper pots or would you make do with those tiny sachets of individual servings? It's a difficult choice isn't it? Perhaps this is the ideal solution. The mind boggles.

Belt and Braces

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The joy of home cooked food

My break in San Francisco is almost at an end - I fly to Cleveland tomorrow where the tour continues. I'd almost forgotten that there was a reason I was in the US.

On August 28th I wrote about the show being visited by one of the googlewhacks that I met in the adventure. The reason that David and Danielle (aka Unicyclist Periscopes) were able to get out to the show in Napa is that they no longer live in Washington D.C. having moved to Palo Alto which is not far from San Francisco.

This also meant I got to spend some more time with them during my break. We visited a baseball game (v. exciting) and I also headed out to Palo Alto for my first home-cooked meal of the tour (even more exciting) and a trip to the cinema to see the wildly funny and liberatingly rude Aristocrats.

This won't mean a great deal to you unless you've seen the show or read the book but I was really delighted when Danielle presented me with a second Teeny Google.

She seems to have an uncanny knack for spotting these things in unlikely places (this one was alone in a stationery store where the owner had no recollection of having ordered it) or maybe the world has an uncanny knack of placing these in her path shortly before we meet.

Today as I walked along the coast I found myself at the spot of my first rock-balancing and decided to have another go. I doubt I'll ever be able to balance things with the beauty that Bill Dan manages but I was still quite impressed with this stack - the second from the top was really quite small and difficult to place.

Maybe I'll give everything up and start a new life as a rock-balancer. Or maybe I won't.