Dave Gorman

Dave Gorman

Date of birth: 02-03-1971
Dave Gorman started stand-up in 1990, when still a teenager, after dropping out of his mathematics course at Manchester University. But it took five years for him to start gaining recognition, hosting both the Comedy Zone showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe and appearing on Granada's Stand-up Show in 1995. Writing work began to come in, and he worked on Jenny Eclair Squats, The Fast Show and the Mrs Merton Show.

In 1998, he performed his first solo show, Reasons To Be Cheerful, deconstructing the lyrics of the Ian Dury song, which he followed the next year with Better World, in which he asked local newspaper readers how he could improve the world, then acted n their suggestions. This documentary-style show came into its own in 2000's Are You Dave Gorman? in which, egged on by flatmate Danny Wallace, he travelled the world to try to find 52 namesakes.

Are You Dave Gorman? was nominated for the Perrier award, and won the HBO Comedy Jury Award for Best One Person Show at the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen Colorado. It was subsequently made into a BBC Two series, The Dave Gorman Collection, and a successful book.

His second TV series, also broadcast on BBC Two, was Dave Gorman's Important Astrology Experiment, a cod-scientific test to see if he could improve his love, health, and wealth over six episodes if he followed his horoscopes. His twin brother Nick, completely ignored the astrologers, so acted as a control.

In 2003, he embarked on another bizarre quest; this time tracking down people responsible for Googlewhacks - web pages that contain a unique pairing of words, so they are the only result returned when you type the phrase into the search engine. The show, which virtually drove him to a nervous breakdown, started at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, transferred to Edinburgh and a UK tour, and again spawned a bestselling book as well as a live DVD.

Since 2005, Gorman has also hosted the Radio 4 show Genius, in which members of the public submit their brilliant ideas to be put to the test, which transferred to BBC Two in 2009. He has also starred in Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive, a show showing a behind-the-scenes view of a fictional comedy panel game, as himself.

In 2007, he released his documentary feature film, America Unchained, in which he tried to cross America without using chain restaurants, hotels or gas stations. Again, a book accompanied the film.

In 2009, he announced a return to more traditional stand-up - but cycling between the 32 venues in his UK tour.

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Dave Gorman: Terms And Conditions Apply

TV preview by Steve Bennett

Although bringing his delightful Modern Life Is Goodish to an end disappointed fans, few would have begrudged Dave Gorman his decision after he explained the toll the immense workload took to create what amounted to seven Edinburgh-length shows every year.

Now he’s back with its successor, Terms And Conditions Apply, which mines similar ground. But the fact it took a lot less effort is unfortunately apparent. 

The gems uncovered from the nether regions of the internet are as comically baffling as always, and Gorman again identifies some hitherto unnoticed media tropes. But rather than incorporating them into a cunning narrative with playful stunts, as he did in Goodish, here they are left to the panel show format.

Episodes one’s guests – Phil Wang, Sara Barron and an always good value Richard Osman – bring the sarcastic commentary, but their off-the-cuff quips are never going to match more carefully considered scripts. 

And an hour is definitely far too long for most panel shows, this one included. Do we really need 12 minutes on the obscure queries brands consider ‘frequently asked questions?’ 

The increasing length of such shows never feels driven by the need to make the best programme; rather by  broadcasters’  commercial imperative to get the most airtime from each recording – and have the most ads within a show, not just before and after.

What saves Terms And Conditions Apply, however, is the raw material that Gorman has found to project on to the giant PowerPoint screen that has come to define his comedy.  There’s a genuinely terrifying infomercial for a shovel – of all things – and the BBC One daytime show Money For Nothing is brilliantly reduced to a recurring trend among its upcyclers.

But the comments from his guests too often seem like padding, rather than enhancing the preposterous things Gorman has so irreverently brought to their attention. It’s good to have him back, but the format’s a diluted version of what he does best.

Dave Gorman: Terms And Conditions Apply starts on Dave at 10pm tonight.

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Published: 21 Oct 2019

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