Sit Down, Pedal, Pedal, Stop And Stand Up, Dave Gorman (2009)
A stand-up-comedy tour being undertaken by bicycle, taking in the UK’s extreme compass points and visiting around 30 venues
Gorman has hung much of his previous comedy around novel conceptual frameworks – among them the search for people with the same name as his, Google whacking and the lyrics of an Ian Dury song. Despite making quite a lot of his cycling between venues in pre-publicity – he typically rides 50 or 60 miles a day – there is very little of the bike in the show. His first appearance on stage is on two wheels, its true. But for those hoping for a comedic dissection of cycling culture, it is a false dawn.
The show follows a traditional stand-up format. Gorman paints himself as a shambling slacker, who offers his observations on his life and family. Much is absurdist. In one tale, Gorman’s blind neighbour reveals that the usual practice among the partially sighted when sending cheques to others with poor vision, is to include with them a sheet of kitchen roll. The texture of the second sheet provides the tactile clue to the recipient that they should present the cheque-shaped piece of paper to their bank. So Gorman posts a sheet of absorbent towel to his neighbour containing a narrow note on which he had written ‘this is a stick up’.
More prevalent in his routine, however, are riffs that suggest that somehow things are not quite as they seem, and that there are accepted frameworks for understanding truth and deceit. In one routine he recounts having contemplated throwing his house keys into a letterbox to provide material for a show. Having called the Post Office on the pretext that he had already done so, he found himself ‘forced’ to chuck his keys into the slot to avoid being shown up as a fraud. He span out the tale for a good ten minutes before admonishing the audience for driving him to such lengths to sate their demand for entertainment.
His closing routine was far the best. He appealed to the audience not to disclose details via Twitter, Facebook, or the like. Possibly this was intended to induce members of the crowd to do just that. Taking his injunction at face value, however, let it suffice to say that he tied together the honey monster, Power Point and an attempt to turn 1,300 beered up East Anglians into a blood-thirsty mob. It was the one point in the show when I was provoked to laugh out loud – although much of the audience was laughing hard throughout.
Post performance Gorman appeared on stage again to appeal for a few cyclist guides to help him on his way the next day. There was no shortage of offers. The request left me, however, with the sense that there might be something of the almost-unmentioned of cycle odyssey that might not be quite as it seemed.
TD Sep 09