What have ambidextrous scallywags and shoe-horning matrons got in common? The same as the velvety proletariat and a fetishized armadillo. They are all successful googlewhacks. Googlewacking, the latest insane Internet game is going from cult to mainstream with the help of Britain’s wackiest brain – Dave Gorman.
Nominated for a Perrier award and winner of two BAFTAs’ as part of the Mrs Merton team, Gorman blends mathematical monkey business with astrological gobbledygook, with often hilarious as well as thought-provoking results.
His latest exploration into the absurd is Dave Gorman’s Googlewhack Adventure, a number one bestseller which has already sold over 100,000 copies. Googlewhacking is a game that derives from internet search engine Google, where the goal is to find any two word phrase with a search result of one, or in other words, a googlewhack. Although Gorman admits, “Googlewhacking took over my life, ” he doesn’t really see himself as a nerd, confiding, “There is some geekiness inside but I think we should all learn to love our inner geek.”
Having started out at Manchester University, he now stands alongside classic comedy alumni Ben ELton, Rick Mayall and Ade Edmondson, yet says; ‘I had no idea why I got into comedy. It just happened. I used to do some work for Amnesty International, they were sponsoring a tour that had a workshop tagged on as an extra fundraiser, run by a little-known-at-the-time Frank Skinner. I bumped into him a few weeks later and he invited me to perform, I think I must have the show off gene.”
His shows Are you Dave Gorman? – a rip-roaringly entertaining search for other Dave Gormans, and Dave Gorman’s Important Astrological Experiment – a madcap epistemological study of horoscopes, brought him celebrity. “Fame wasn’t really my goal, ‘ he says, ‘I don’t even really think that I am famous.” But surely it has its benefits? “Well take Chris Evans, my dad knows who he is – yet hasn’t seen any of his shows. Now that’s got to bed bad thing. Geri Halliwell, she’ll do presenting, performing, singing – she wants to be famous, bless her heart – but I can’t really think in terms of fame, it’s just a thing.”
His tone is perplexed, conveying an audible vexation at the obsession with celebrity. “I mean you would have to be inhuman to say that you don’t enjoy it. I feel the same, only where I used to play to l00, l now play to a 1000.” Just to prove it Gorman presented and sold out The Comedy Zone for five consecutive years. “In the late Nineties I was having a lot of success in Edinburgh, and it’s exciting proving you’ve got the goods. Once you’ve done that, when people know who you are – you don’t know how good you are. It’s not about wanting to be successful, but doing the job well. There are a lot of comedians about, who project this image that they just watch daytime TV. Some do try to sell this image to you and, I mean, that’s part of the act. For me, I’m up at eight every morning.”
A hard work ethic combined with an obsessive personality, is this what makes a great comedian? “I can’t really define what the essential quality is. I think if people knew the answer to that, there would be a lot more great comedians. But yeah … I was talking to Barry Cryer, and he said, the thing with all comedians is, that they are all … (long pause) aliens.” I laugh as he puts on a Martian drawl. “In a way though, I think it’s good that I don’t know the answers to these questions.”
Gorman is a reflective and thoughtful soul who weighs his answers as honestly, as much as he takes his comedy seriously. But there are things which you can’t joke about, aren’t there? “I don’t think there are any taboos – Caroline Aherne once did a joke as Sister Mary Immaculate, about the way the Catholic Church perceives rape. Rape is disgusting and abhorrent. But if what informs your joke is the correct attitude, then it’s acceptable comedy.”
Great comedy has at its heart a powerful message. Gorman’s adventures take a look at whether there really is anything in a name and whether there really is any truth in the stars. A thoroughly nice chap, I recommend his googlewhack.