Dave Gorman could be described as a geek; the clues? He wears checked shirts with pride, and to base your whole show about Microsoft’s Powerpoint software, and looking like you enjoys it so much, yes, geek. But, as the superb support act, Nick Doody, points out with his opening joke about Excel (the spreadsheet software, not the East London exhibition centre) only a Dave Gorman audience would appreciate such a joke, because to be here makes us as geeky as Gorman.
Gorman’s act is not groundbreaking, it is similar in format to his TV show, Modern Life Is Goodish, which in itself is very much based on his previous tour. For those who haven’t seen any of these, the clue is in the title, “Dave Gorman Gets Straight to the Point (The powerpoint)”. It’s stand up comedy with visual aids. Rather than just describe a scene, Gorman shows you a picture as well. When he talks about pineapples in breakfast bars at his hotel, he provides first a picture of a fruit bowl with a single pineapple in its centre, and as he suggests no one would ever take the pineapple as it would be too greedy, he then clicks to the next picture, himself grinning happily as he holds up the pineapple proudly taken from said breakfast bar.
And when he wants to make a point, he shows a graph. The show opens with Gorman singing “If you’re happy and you know it”, using the large screen to project the words and encourage the audience to clap at the right moments. And this leads to him quickly dissecting the song, expressing confusion over the part where it goes, “and you know it”, questioning how you would not know you were happy. In itself a clever observation, but given this is a powerpoint presentation, he then proceeds to express these thoughts in graphical terms, showing happiness against awareness. Clever, damn geeky, and very funny.
This is basically how the show proceeds, thoughts translated into visual aids. Sometimes they are just additions to support the humour, other times they are vital, being the punch line themselves. He covers familiar themes, Twitter and Facebook always favourite items for his humour, this tour using his own mum’s twitter account for great comic effect. And then there is his love of a practical joke, going into the finest detail in faking a TV show just to prank members of his production team; “Kneecaps Recapped” may in his head be a fictional show, but I wonder if some TV executive watches the show and starts to get an idea! These are all themes he and many others may have covered before, but in his expert hands, he brings whole new angles to them that keep the audience guessing where it is going.
Another thing Gorman has done before through previous shows and TV work is “Found Poems”, taking lines he finds in the comment sections of news items on the internet to put together a poem that he reads over patriotic music. What are probably the most banal of comments come alive in his hands, the words flashing up on the screen, various sizes to emphasise the important parts, or maybe important should actually read absurd. It’s another clever and simple trick that not only has the audience laughing out, but at times Gorman himself as if he hasn’t read them previously before. He clearly enjoys himself and I always enjoy seeing a comic lose his way briefly with his own laughter.
As he does the final Found Poem to end the show, he is assisted by Nick Doody, the support act, who shows not only can he tell a good joke but play a reasonable piano. The pair are in fine form tonight, with Doody going off script with a little piano solo that has Gorman struggling to remain serious and making very inappropriate hand signals towards him.
And it is Doody who almost steals the final laugh of the night, completely throwing Gorman off his stride with an impromptu moment of genius; as Gorman brings the show back to the earlier theme of pineapples, Doody reaches down and pulls up a pineapple turned into a drink, complete with umbrella and straw, slapping it down on the piano right in front of a gawping Gorman; a visual gag that doesn’t need to be done on Powerpoint to hit its target successfully; Gorman himself is left speechless and takes a moment to compose himself to finish the show.
Gorman is a master of Powerpoint and uses it to bring alive his humour. And unlike the past tour when he was unable to bring out a DVD due to the amount of visuals with copyright issues they caused, you do get the feeling this time he has thought about that and avoided so much product placed humour, hopefully with a DVD in mind. So, if you like your humour very visual with a good dollop of geekiness, look out for this in the new year.