Dave Gorman 2009 tour – Bristol

Note: This review is from 2009

Review by Steve Bennett

To get to this gig in Bristol, Dave Gorman cycled nearly 50 miles from the previous night’s engagement in Taunton, all part of his quest to pedal the length and breadth of mainland Britain. Ah, another one of his crazy comic ideas, providing plenty of material beginning ‘a funny thing happened to me on the way here tonight…’

Well, no, as it happens. His mode of transport is mentioned only in passing. This is Gorman backpedalling to his stand-up roots after eight years of the epic documentary tales that propelled him into the limelight. Indeed some of his earliest comedy routines, such as the mathematical description of perfect, friendly and sociable numbers, are given an outing for the majority who never saw him back in the day.

Arithmetical oddities may sound like a highbrow topic, but turns out to be the excuse for a rather silly pay-off; which is the pattern for the evening. Gorman’s smooth delivery has an inherent gravitas, honed over the years of those storytelling shows, making him effortlessly able to draw an audience in until they hang on his every word. But then, just as the room is rapt, he’ll puncture the mood with a mischievously funny payoff to reflect his natural sense of humour. Although most of the show requires him to maintain a straight face, he’ll frequently giggle, seemingly genuinely, at some of the daft punchlines.

Not all the gags are the result of sedate stories – there’s a good smattering of inventive quickies here, too – but the longer form is Gorman’s defining trait.

He’s a practical joker, he tells us, playing tricks on his blind neighbour, on the postman or his Swedish friend who’s baffled by some of the more arcane elements of idiosyncratic English. These are good-humoured, never malicious, and told in the same self-effacing style that he uses when admitting to his social limits as a relatively meek, middle-class, 38-year-old man.

But most of all he plays jokes on the audience – patiently reeling us in, then, hilariously, pulling the rug from under us. That, combined with a couple of beautifully planted callbacks, makes for a very satisfying couple of hours.

His yarn-spinning is at its strongest as he recalls a drunken birthday trip to Las Vegas – a tale that concentrates no on excess, as most stand-up routines might, but on the befuddlement his inebriated state caused. It’s a funny story in itself, but Gorman elevates it into something else – milking the anticipation of what he’s about to say so that even the pregnant pause become funny.

Gorman sometimes abuses his gift, especially at the start of the second half, where an anecdote about how twisted his behaviour has become in the search for material unfolds nicely, but disappointingly (if entirely realistically) fizzles out, even if that is the point. A couple of the other extended build-ups – Richard Dawkins, chinless wonders – don’t quite have payoffs with sufficient impact, while a lenghty academic analysis of the evolution of the Honey Monster similarly feels lightweight, although the gimmicks involved seem crowd-pleasing.

But towards the end of the show, he becomes consumed by outrage at something entirely trivial, and the passion restores the sense of fun. Follow that with a surprisingly non-cringeworthy piece of audience participation, this hugely entertaining night ends on a suitable high.

Review date: 4 Sep 2009
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Reviewed at: Bristol Beacon

Live comedy picks

We see you are using AdBlocker software. Chortle relies on advertisers to fund this website so it’s free for you, so we would ask that you disable it for this site. Our ads are non-intrusive and relevant. Help keep Chortle viable.