Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Cause And Effect Aren't Always Easy To Discern

I will be sorry to see the end of this tour. I still hugely enjoy it every night. Not just the show, but also meeting the audience after the show, something I do wherever possible. So far on this tour, the only time I didn't do it was after the extra afternoon show in Cheltenham... but that's because we were doing two shows that day and we had to empty the theatre and then fill it up again about 15 minutes later...

I completely understand why not everyone does it - and in truth, if it wasn't for the technical side of my shows, I might not do it either. I come off stage and I'm knackered and the priority is to get to our hotel beds as soon as possible. But because it takes time to take the screen down and pack away all of our kit, I figure I might as well use that time to do something fun and that audiences seem to appreciate.

But every now and then, something happens to make me think about not doing it. It seems that, for some people, it's not enough and that leads to upset. And maybe if I didn't do it at all that would be avoided. I got a taste of one such thing this week... although it seemed to be a reaction to a show from over a year ago.

It started with an innocent tweet featuring a picture I'd taken backstage at the Everyman in Cheltenham last Sunday.

It really is what I had first thought when I used that loo before the show. As it goes, I was delighted to discover it wasn't and that the theatre were thoughtful enough to have their loos so well stocked. But the coincidence of the packaging resembling something else so familiar seemed odd. And lots of people seemed to agree. On a computer screen the text might be legible, but when I look at the image on my phone it still looks like a Terry's Chocolate Orange to me and I have to zoom in, in order to reveal it's true nature. I imagine lots of people on Twitter had to do the same.

But one person seemed to take offence.

Which is one of those Twitter moments that just makes you sigh. If it's possible to find offence on Twitter, someone will. My assumption is that they're imagining my tweet to have an undertone (or indeed, a heavy overtone) of old-fashioned, "ugh... periods... tampons... yuk!" Which isn't what I intended at all. So I thought a simple explanation would settle things down.

Reader, it did not settle things down.

Okay. Maybe she's unfamiliar with the packaging of a Terry's Chocolate Orange? Maybe she thinks my tweet means that I looked inside the box and saw the tampons and thought they looked like chocolates. Well, surely sight of the box and an understanding that it is really quite similar would explain things...

Reader, it did not explain things...

This strikes me as a slightly odd reply as we seem to have left the topic of whether or not two similarly sized and similarly coloured boxes look alike and moved on to new territory. It seems my correspondent has some more long-standing grievance with me... dating back to the Wolverhampton tour date. Which was nearly a year ago.

Sometimes the tour dates can all blur into one, but the Wolverhampton show remains pretty clear in my memory for a number of reasons. The show had originally been booked in to the Civic Hall in Wolverhampton. But the Civic Hall needed to be rewired and had problems with asbestos and so all of their events - including the Grand Slam of Darts and shows by me, Jason Manford, Joe Lycett and Sarah Millican were moved to a new venue, Aldersley Leisure Village, 10 miles outside the city centre. There were plenty of discussions about whether the new venue - a large sports complex - would have the required lighting/staging/sound system to cope with our show - but in the end they persuaded us that it would all be in order. And it was. They effectively built a complete theatre rig inside a huge sports hall.

The idea that I'd expressed any sense of being too good for the audience (that included my Mum, two of my brothers, a sister-in-law, a niece and a nephew) seemed peculiar because... well, because I've simply never felt it, let alone expressed it. So I wanted to know where this was coming from.

All of which seems most peculiar. Because it contains quite specific details. Of course, I know it's possible that someone didn't enjoy the show. But the idea that I'd actually said - or otherwise conveyed - that the Wolverhampton audience was shit and that every other audience had been better just doesn't make sense. I mean, I know it just didn't happen. It's entirely possible that I referred to the change of venue and called it 'Not Wolverhampton' or somesuch... and maybe someone had hugely misunderstood what that meant. But the idea that I'd dissed it, them and noted that other audiences were better... nah... there's no way anyone could come away from the show thinking I'd done that.

Of course, other people were joining in the conversation at this stage. And my correspondent was giving them short shrift.

I mean... you can't really say, 'Fuck you too' to someone who hasn't said, 'Fuck you' first. And the same person also received a reply to say.

Which repeats the idea that I had somehow attacked that night's audience - or at least some of them - for coming to the show and that I'd said they were a low point. Which I didn't. Because they weren't. And because I wouldn't, even if they were.

And when TV's Helen Chamberlain explained that she'd thought the photo was of a Terry's Chocolate Orange... she too was given short shrift...

Now all of what I've described so far is, I'm sure, a fairly common occurrence on Twitter. Someone takes offence, digs their heels in and lets loose with their anger. It clearly happens all the time.

But it made me wonder if she had mentioned it at the time. Maybe if she had I would discover what had actually happened to give her such a different impression of the night. So I used Twitter's advanced search feature to look it up.

And I found this... which, as I started reading, made me think that maybe something had happened after all and I was the one with a dodgy recollection...

Really! I have no memory of losing my shit on stage. How have I blocked that out? How have I failed to remember some, awful, on stage rant? Oh... read on... it turns out I haven't.

So it turns out that the person who remembers the show as such a disaster and feels so slighted by the whole experience was actually tweeting a couple of hours after the show to say that she'd enjoyed it and would be booking my next tour too.

I gather she's since tweeted that the show was good and that it was my attitude after the show that was so upsetting. (I can't corroborate this as she has now blocked me.)

That's what I meant when I said I sometimes pause to consider whether I should bother to meet people after the shows. I mean, if it can be taken this badly...

But then again... if it's true that I did or said something after the show to upset her, it would suggest it was something I did after 1.11am that night. Which seems unlikely, as at that point I was in the passenger seat of the tour van as we did a night drive to London after that particular show.

But maybe I did say something that upset her and it's only after she'd dwelt on it a while that the upset overtook any other emotional response to the night. Although... that would make this  tweet from February just a little strange also...
Quite how it's possible to have loved a show on the night, still have fond memories of it three months later, but to then decide you hated it a further nine months on is beyond me. I mean... it can't honestly be just because I think one box looks like another, can it?

PS: I've covered up her username and avatar in this post for good reasons. I know it's possible to search for her. Please don't tweet her or try to get involved. I'm not sharing this story because I wish her any ill-will. The last thing I want is to cause a pile-on. I just wanted to share this oddity from my point of view. If anything, I think the take home message is that words expressed in anger are often not to be taken at face value. Although the inability of people to step back and see that perhaps they have the wrong end of the stick does seem to be quite a thing on Twitter in particular and doesn't seem particularly healthy. I do kind of doubt that she'll be booking for my next tour as promised

If you want to come along to this tour, you have a small number of opportunities left. Weston Super-Mare on Thursday, Guildford on Friday, Northampton on Sunday and London on Tuesday. Come along and maybe you too will enjoy yourself on the night only to convince yourself that you hated it by this time next year!

Thursday, October 10, 2019

On the road and on the box...

I'm thoroughly enjoying being back on tour.  We've just finished the first week of this final leg of touring with the show, With Great Powerpoint Comes Great Responsibilitypoint... so if you came along to see the show in Aldershot, Wrexham, Liverpool, Derry/Londonderry, Belfast or Salisbury - thank you. There are now just 20 shows to go on (well 21 because we've added a matinee in Cheltenham) and I will be genuinely sorry to wave goodbye to it. It's such a fun show to perform.

I'm very much looking forward to this show's first visits to Sheffield, Doncaster, Halifax, Aberystwyth, Yeovil, Worthing, Dorking, Torquay, Reading, Dudley, Scarborough, Middlesbrough, Shanklin, Basingstoke and Weston Super Mare - as well as taking it back to Cambridge, Guildford, Northampton and London. 

Tour dates for the third and final leg of the tour.
There's been a seven month gap between the second leg of the tour and this one so it came as something of a relief to discover that I still know the show inside out. The reason for the seven month break was that we needed to take time out to make the new series for Dave. When people ask me why I use powerpoint, I always explain that its big advantage is that it broadens the range of topics I can discuss. When I look back through the 36 episodes of Modern Life Is Goodish and the last three tour shows and think about how much material has been chewed up, it's impossible to imagine making most of it work using words alone. I could talk about the ideas but it would sound like I was exaggerating or making things up when often, a big part of what moves the audience to laughter in those bits is the proof that I'm doing nothing of the sort, that idiocy was hiding in plain sight.

A part of the appeal of Terms And Conditions Apply, for me, is that it allows other people to discuss those topics too. In the first episode my guests are the spectacular Sara Barron, Phil Wang and Richard Osman.

The show is launching on Monday, October 21st and will be on Monday nights at 10pm for eight weeks.
I loved making it and I hope you'll enjoy watching it too. The guests across the eight episodes will also include Katherine Ryan, Jimmy Carr, Rose Matafeo, Sally Phillips, Ed Gamble, Sophie Duker, Phill Jupitus, Zoe Lyons, David O'Doherty, Desiree Burch, Jessica Knappett, Darren Harriott, Rufus Hound, Suzi Ruffell, Cariad Lloyd, Marcus Brigstocke and Jess Fostekew.

During the last few series of Modern Life Is Goodish, I often used to run competitions for my mailing list, giving away things from the show. Shirts, mostly. I intend to do the same again with this series. I thought I'd mention it here so that anyone who isn't on the mailing list already can subscribe before the series starts. I'm not sure when I'll get round to setting the first competition up, what with all the travelling in the days before the show launches, but I'll give away the shirt I'm wearing in this trailer...


Thursday, October 3, 2019

Terms & Conditions Apply...

We've just started the third (and final) leg of the tour, With Great Powerpoint Comes Great Responsibilitypoint... and there's a reason there was quite a long gap between the second and third leg. I stopped in order to make something new. It's a new show for Dave.

Here's the trailer:

From the moment I decided to call time on Modern Life Is Goodish... the channel and I started discussing what else we could do instead. And this is what we came up with. I hope you'll like it.

Friday, April 26, 2019

More 2019 Dates

If you came to any of the tour shows that I did last autumn or this spring, you'll be aware of quite how much I enjoy playing live. I don't know why some material is more fun to perform than other bits but With Great Powerpoint Comes Great Responsibilitypoint is a show that's just full of stuff that's really fun to do.

When we got to the last show at the end of February quite a few venues had been in touch wanting to have the show and I was eager to keep on going... but because I had to start work on other things it wasn't immediately obvious when - or if - we could make things fit.

But things have finally sorted themselves out and I'm delighted to say that the show will be back on the road this autumn for another 24 dates.

A few of these shows are return visits but the majority of them are to new venues - and to parts of the country that weren't particularly well served before...

If you're the sort of person who likes to read a review to persuade yourself... well here's a (previously blogged) nice review from The Times... although this time, I've redacted it to make it completely spoiler free!

I think I'm going with the quote,"Dave Gorman, the king of high-concept multimedia shows, the high priest of the comedy Powerpoint talk. He's backed by hundreds of precision-tooled graphics that he controls and interacts with as if he were in a double act with his laptop. The rappor between them is extraordinary. Gorman finds acute new angles on familiar topics in this hugely entertaining 90 minutes of multifacted, multimedia stand-up"

I hope to see you there... all the details can be found on