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!


jim said...

Very interesting Dave and I think it's another illustration of the modern (I think) obsession with the "double-down" - trying to project that "I'm right" and refusing to engage with reasonable discourse, even when there is past documentary evidence that your once held a contrary position (see also, anything said by senior political figures in the UK / USA in the past 5 years...)

Sad to say that I quit Twitter a few months ago which means I miss the fun comedy aspects of it (you, Bob Mortimer, Coldwar_Steve) but the algorithm had decided I had to see rage / despair inducing posts from robots and paid accounts and it was time to distance myself from all the rage / racism / dumbness. Decision was worth it in balance

lee allen said...

it is a shame, I hope you don't let the minority spoil it for the majority. I guess you can please everyone & someone will always be looking for a reason to vent there anger

came to see you in York from Sheffield in january, loved it me & my 2 sisters still laugh about the eventful trip now. espically my older sister needing the medic in interval. certainly on next tour hopefully meet you this time. as didn't realise til too late

Maggie said...

Do giraffes have periods? Hmmmm ... or eat chocolate oranges?

So many questions ..

Anonymous said...

Shame on her Dave. It only goes to prove that you can't appease all of the people all of the time but it does seem very strange how she can love a show one minute and then not like it the next.

Maxx said...

I don't understand how someone can take offence at someone mistaking one item for another item after a quick glance. Then realising what the item was on closer inspection? This happens to pretty much all of us, and usually makes for a funny anecdote.
As my wife is housebound I have to buy her feminine hygiene products and so am well familiar with the different brand's designs. I too thought it was a chocolate orange at first.

Janey Waney said...

Women eat chocolate oranges. Get used to it. ��

Rob Glysen said...

I am flabberghasted (god I love that word) at this woman.

However, could someone please email me that sodding giraffe joke.

Sorry I missed you on tour x

Enjoying Terms and Conditions, met you up in Scotland on sit down, pedal, stand up, you were great. Never seen my niece laugh so hard, and god she needed it, you spread laughter and joy, please never stop :)

Unknown said...

Well I love the fact you meet us fans after, and as you know, we have met a huge number of times. It's one of the many things that makes you different to others. I've seen this tour twice because it's so brilliant and I too thought it was Terry's Chocolate Orange too when I saw your tweet... but chose to laugh! Keep up the good work my favourite comedian! See you again in the future no doubt :)

Zoe Imbimbo said...

you know, we have met a huge number of times. It's one of the many things that makes you different to others. I've seen this tour twice because it's so brilliant and I too thought it was Terry's Chocolate Orange too when I saw your tweet... but chose to laugh! Keep up the good work my favourite comedian! See you again in the future no doubt :)

Zoe Imbimbo said...

Eek having technical crisis but over those two messages you get the drift!

Unknown said...

Men only
And doughters

James said...

Careful, or you’ll spoil the giraffe joke - the tour’s still going.

James said...

Email wouldn’t do it justice, Rob.

Shame - I’ve never heard a better giraffe joke.

Kate Paul said...

I think sometimes you just have to raise an eyebrow and move on. You cant please everyone and some just dont want to be pleased. She has the choice to not see your shows or follow you on Twitter. She should not be given the power to influence your communications with the rest of us. I'm female and found it funny. Carry on with being you, that why we see you.

Neil Carpenter said...

I've loved meeting you at several of your gigs. You've signed your DVDs for me and it's been a thoroughly terrific end to the night.

But maybe your mystery lady has a point. As you yourself know all too well, it takes two to tangle......!

Unknown said...

I've been coming to "Dave Gorman Shows" for years...all over the Midlands...and I was at THAT Waterstones book event where your lovely Mum showed having the opportunity to meet you and say "Thanks" and have a brief natter is very special - it allows us to - in a small way - repay and let you know how much impact you have on us for making us laugh and sometimes distracting us from darker days we are trudging through.

Please don't be put off by one person, do keep meeting us if you can/want to. As the saying goes "there's nowt stranger than folk" and this most likely applies in this circumstance. As for'a close enough to Stafford that I can't imagine you would ever say anything deliberately to antagonise.

...and for the person who asked about the giraffe...quite honestly it's one of those "you have to be there" jokes :-)

Anonymous said...

Some people get offended too easily.
Some people enjoy getting offended.
Some people, who cannot find anything to get offended about, make a mountain out of a molehill and then get offended about something that they have invented or embellished. Flippin' ridiculous!! :)

JohnLBevan said...

Interesting that she says she was at the Wolverhampton gig.... all of her content implies she's based in the US... Either she's a mega fan dealing with serious issues that are unrelated to you, or she's a (human assisted?) bot / something like that?

Jon said...

I’ve got a good giraffe joke, but I darent make it in case it’s the same one. I haven’t been able to make the tour so don’t know it. This is testing my willpower.

Unknown said...

Seems like another instance of belief perseverance which Twitter is full of.
It goes like this:
1) I make a statement with an underlying belief or opinion (Dave Gorman is in the wrong here)
2) You refute that statement, pretty conclusively
3) I refuse to accept that you have refuted it, because I need to persevere with my initial belief - even though the obvious rational explanation would be to back down with good grace and no hard feelings
4) You categorically show that I was wrong in my original statement, some other people may also join in to point out just how wrong I am.
5) I'm now desperate not to abandon my original belief - although I may be able to modify it slighty ("Well, if Dave Gorman wasn't in the wrong here, he might have been in the wrong a year ago, because my mate said he pretty much blanked her at that gig we went to, so basically, my belief still stands")
The moral of the story is basically the same as the Giraffe joke of course! x

Stealthyjax said...

Looking forward to seeing you tomorrow night in Guildford, Dave. This made me question whether hanging around after shows was the done thing. I'm sorry to say that I don't ever do it - mainly because I think the performer deserves to relax and go home or to their hotel afterwards - perhaps have a drink - and not be pestered. And, to tell the truth, when I was younger and did that kind of stuff, it was probably (selfishly) to make myself feel special, like I had a rapport with the performer - not really for them. Please remember the not so noticeable majority of us simply watch your shows (I go back as far as the finding Dave Gormans originally) and will come along to the tour (perhaps bringing someone who hasn't seen you before), laugh uncontrollably and clap heartily and go home at the end of the show and tell our friends and colleagues about what a brilliantly clever and funny man you are. We all do appreciate the work you do and don't normally tell you in person. Thanks.
P.S. can't wait till the Giraffe joke - it better be brilliant or I'll slam you down on Twitter ;) (obviously not - one thing this blog has taught me is that you never can be too sure how people might react!)

Unknown said...

All I know is, that despite being completely knackered, you took the time to have your photo taken with my family and sign my daughter's book. You made her year. She loved the giraffe joke (despite my concerns that it might be too rude for her) and we agree that it so does look like a chocolate orange...