News: Dave Gorman Announces 2014 UK Tour

dave gorman

Dates have just been announced for Dave Gorman's 2014 tour, Dave Gorman Gets Straight to The Point (*The PowerPoint). The tour, which will contain new jokes and not just material from his current Dave TV series, Modern Life Is Goodish, starts in Winchester on Oct 3 and finishes in Sheffield on Dec 6. See all the dates and ticket info here

Here's an interview I did with Gorman for The Times in 2009 when he toured the UK cycling from gig to gig.

 

It would be fair to say that Dave Gorman is a man who does not do things by halves. When other comedians announce that they are going back on the road it means they will be touring the country in a comfy car. For Gorman on the road means cycling from gig to gig — 32 gigs in 32 nights. A thigh-shredding 1,500 miles, averaging nearly 50 miles a day.

Which is why I am pedalling furiously through the Berkshire countryside trying to keep up with the genial, bearded star of BBC Two’s invention series Genius as he trains for his trek. “Training is a big word for what I’m doing. It’s much more haphazard than that. Just cycling around plus a few big trips such as this,” he says, at a set of traffic lights outside Windsor.

The idea is that we conduct the interview while moving, but this is swiftly abandoned. He has Lycra, an £800 racer lent to him by the Olympic champion-turneddesigner Chris Boardman, and steely determination. I’ve got jeans, a rusty hybrid and no helmet. So after a soul-crushingly short five miles, we pause at a pub. Gorman deserves his lemonade. He has already cycled from his home in East London, 33 miles away.

This should be an in-depth interview, but at the moment I can think of only one question. Why? Luckily Gorman has a very long answer while I get my breath back. “I was planning to cycle across Britain this autumn for fun and then I got caught doing stand-up by my manager. He suggested a tour. I told him about my cycling plans and in three seconds the penny had dropped.”

Having had the idea quickly, the logistics took longer. Venues could not be more than about 40 miles apart, which means playing village halls in Grampound and Threlkeld as well as theatres in High Wycombe and Cambridge. Actually High Wycombe and Cambridge is a sore point. Because of a planning hiccup they are on consecutive nights and 90 miles apart. No cheating is allowed. Although he does admit to going “a bit Dave Cameron”. His manager will be in a nearby car should anything catastrophic happen.

Coincidentally in the week that we meet, Eddie Izzard has started running 1,100 miles around the UK for Sport Relief. Izzard is in his forties, Gorman is 38. What is it about comedians in early middle age? Gorman suggests that comedians are not unique when it comes to male midlife crises. This is just his form of ponytail and/or Harley Davidson: “I guarantee right now that there are five fat accountants cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats.”

This tour — observational stand-up comedy rather than bike-related once he gets on stage — is very much back to basics for Gorman, who has carved out a reputation as the Tracey Emin of stand-up, straddling documentary and performance art genres. Most famously he did Are You Dave Gorman? travelling the world looking for namesakes. More recently on television there was America Unchained, attempting to cross the US shopping only in independent stores. When Gorman gets an obsession, boy, does he get an obsession. The trouble with this kind of intensity, however, is that it can mess with your mind.

After his initial success in the early Noughties he was offered a lucrative book deal to write a novel. Gorman banked the money, but did not get round to writing the book. Instead he went globetrotting and had a nervous breakdown. “I realised I was s*** at writing fiction and I was trapped in a thing where rather than being responsible and owning up I started making life more difficult for myself by spending all of the money, while doing things like sending e-mails from abroad saying ‘here’s chapters one to three’ and not attaching anything on the grounds that people would assume there must be a computer glitch.”

The breakdown was exacerbated in that Gorman did not like what he had become in the public eye. “There was this perception of me as the crazy bet guy, which I don’t think is right or fair. I’d get e-mails saying, ‘Why not go to every European country, climb the highest mountain and meet the person who got the lowest score in the Eurovision Song Contest for that country’. I hated the idea that people would think I’m the kind of t*** that would do that.”

Yet one of the joys of being a comedian is that if you can find the funny side of misery you can make a mint. The performer’s procrastination turned into his Googlewhack Adventure, which became a No 1 nonfiction book, thus paying off the debts accrued by not writing his fiction book. The only breakdown he is concerned about now is the mechanical variety.

This is the strange thing about the kind of comedy Gorman excels at. It turns negatives into positives. But then Gorman has a relentlessly positive outlook on life. He grew up in Staffordshire and describes even his parents’ divorce when he was a schoolboy as “the most amicable divorce in history”. His blog boasts the motto: “Don’t Drop Litter. Do Say Please And Thank You. Simple, Really.”

After his gonzo adventures he might just be becoming the most sensible stand-up comedian in the country. For someone who had sung the National Anthem backwards in Covent Garden onleg with his foot in a bucket of water, a tangerine in one hand and got his ID tattooed on his arm to get served in a redneck bar, this is child’s play. The blue-and-white gear might look daft in a pub, but it makes sense on the A4. “I did the London to Brighton ride and saw an injured rider’s helmet in the road and a quarter of it was missing. That would have been their head if they hadn’t had a helmet on, so I always wear one.” Though his girlfriend draws the line at him keeping his helmetcam on in the bedroom.

As for the trousers, they are practical and protective. “There’s lots of padding in the right place, but I did 90 miles a day for three days and in the aftermath I suffered from Numb Penis Syndrome, a medically recognised condition. My mum e-mailed me in a panic about cycling causing infertility, but I reassured her that Chris Boardman has six children.”

As we say goodbye I wonder how he will feel when the tour ends. Apart from exhausted. He has already added a spring leg, which will be undertaken in conventional four-wheeled fashion. Will this mark the end of his cycling? “It is entirely possible I may never want to get on a bike again.”

For now though, he is thrilled at his two-wheeled adventure. “Usually on tour you feel triumphant when you finish a gig. On this tour I shall feel triumphant when I go on, just for having got there . . .”

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