Dave Gorman's Googlewhack Adventure

Note: This review is from 2003

Review by Steve Bennett

Reviewed at the Melbourne Comedy Festival (which was a 60-minute version)


If you didn't already know his history of insanity, you would never put Dave Gorman down as a nutter.

He comes across as a personable, lucid chap. He has his passions, certainly, yet he also has a healthy self-awareness, knowing his own . Now here's a man, you may think, who has his head screwed on.

But let's not forget, this is also the man who has lived months of his life by the following the literal meaning of an Ian Dury song, by the command of strangers who correspond with local newspapers, and by an unnatural obsession to find his namesakes.

So it can be little surprise that, despite all his best intentions to write a proper, grown-up novel, the last few months of Dave Gorman's existence have been dominated by yet another insane, obsessive and utterly pointless quest.

In fact, that his life took yet another bizarre turn is one of the few things that isn't a surprise in this staggering, impressive and breathlessly entertaining adventure - even if it caught Gorman himself unawares.

Indeed, his own reluctance to become involved in the madcap odyssey provides the comic counterpoint to the fast-paced action. But as billions-to-one chances stack up almost as quickly as the peer pressure, the inevitable happens and, 119,000km and several thousands pounds later, Dave has this glorious new show. But no novel.

At the heart of all this madness is the Googlewhack. Googlewhacking is the art of finding two words that, when run through the Internet's leading search engine, returns just one page from the billions available.

Turns out that Dave's website contains one such magic combination. Once he learned that, he just had to find others - after all, it's a great displacement activity to delay writing that book - which led, inevitably, to this excellent adventure.

Quite how it led to a globe-trotting challenge is too complicated to go into, but needless to say it eventually leads our hero to encounter dozens of eccentric characters as he criss-crosses the globe once more.

In fact, there's so much to pack in that much of the actual journey appears as nothing more than a ludicrously expensive split-second flash on the screen, as reams of potential material is super-compressed into the hour demanded by festivals. No doubt there are more tales to be told in the TV series that's just begging to be made, or at least in a longer stage show - and Gorman's such a master storyteller that you could easily listen to his anecdotes all night.

The few people he does focus on, though, provide rich comedy pickings, most notably the rabid creationist that provides the spark for a splendid slice of straight stand-up around, as Gorman at last finds someone even more insane than himself.

The real joy, though, is in the quest itself - full of jaw-dropping real-life twists that the most daring Hollywood screenwriter would think twice about employing. At the end of the dizzying ride, the audience is rightly sworn to secrecy about the exact details - but needless to say Gorman's idiocy is astounding. Go along and laugh at it.


Review date: 1 Jan 2003
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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