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Dave Gorman's Powerpoint Presentation

Note: This review is from 2011

Review by Steve Bennett

It would probably have happened anyway, but Dave Gorman has to take some of the credit/blame for popularising the use of PowerPoint in comedy.

The technology is both a boon and a curse – when used properly, the screen can an extra dimension or a visual punchline, underlining or undermining what’s being said on stage. Used badly, it’s a annoying prop for the unconfident, turning stand-up into a tedious business presentation.

As a pioneer, Gorman goes down the righteous path in his first Fringe performances in eight years – and even opens with a sly gag at the expense of the ‘death by PowerPoint’ option. But a few nifty, early sight gags on the massive screen aside, this is not about the medium, but the material. And what an impressive hour of intelligent, playful, quirky, obsessive and original fun it turns out to be.

In some ways it’s a celebration of this former maths student’s continued nerdiness. He’s ruthlessly pedantic (and yes, can use the PowerPoint to stress a point), and sometimes brilliantly obsessed with the trivial. Some comics make you want to look at the whole world anew; after seeing Gorman you’ll look at adverts for watches in a different way.

At other times he starts from a typical observation – the marketing bullshit of 48hr deodorant, for example. But as anyone who’s seen any of his quest shows knows, Gorman is not one to leave an idea at first base, and takes things to extremes. Thankfully, for the sake of his sanity, here it’s just extremes of comic invention he goes to.

He whizzes through this material, with the laughs coming frequently – and sometimes without the punchline needing to be said. He is so defined as an benign mischief-maker that he can leave ideas hanging – and we work out what’s coming for ourselves from the clues he scattered along the way.

A couple of the early ideas don’t quite catch alight, such as his take on that old staple of celebrities he’s supposed to look like. And he showed us a picture of cage fighter Alex Reid, who he once met, but the rest of that anecdote is very forgettable.

But once he starts on the idea that he’s often mistaken for being Jewish, Gorman gets his teeth into a formidable bit of about stereotyping and projecting racial characteristics on to others in a superb display of exasperated confusion that kicks the show off into a high gear.

Gorman’s love of the internet is another key thread, he gets into an ultimately inconsequential online spat with Jim Davidson – though he regales the story expertly – and embarks on a modest, inconclusive experiment after crowd-sourcing information on what makes your wee smell funny. And while mocking idiotic comments posted on the web provides easy comic grist, Gorman makes it into poetry, literally as well as figuratively. You can see why he’s one of Britain’s finest Jewish comedians.

Review date: 14 Aug 2011
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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