Comedian Dave Gorman gets off his bike to speak to Jon Perks about his ‘recycled’ show.
Dave Gorman likes a challenge. This is the man who trawled the globe looking for namesakes (Are You Dave Gorman?), explored the internet for unique search answers (his Googlewhack Adventure) and drove across the US only using independent motels, restaurants and petrol stations (America Unchained).
When his manager suggested he return to stand-up for the first time in five years, it comes as little surprise, then, that the Stafford-born funnyman took an unconventional route – in every sense.
He would cycle from venue to venue, clocking up 60-80 miles every day, visiting towns and venues not on the usual stand-up itinerary – Taunton, Kings Lynn, Threlkeld and a railway station dining car on the west coast of Scotland to name but a few.
“I was planning a bike ride anyway, which I was just going to do in the way that a lot of men who are approaching 40 decide to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats to prove something to themselves,” says Dave.
“I was that man – and I was planning a ride between the four corners of Britain... it wasn’t a tour, it wasn’t anything else, it was just this bike ride, and then my manager started to try to persuade me to do a tour again and he was like ‘come on, you should do it, you’ve got some time to write it, go out in the autumn...’ and I said ‘no I can’t in the autumn, I’ve got the bike ride...’ and then there was a moment when we both looked at each other and went ‘haaaang on a minute...’ – if we’d been a boy band that would have been the moment where the key changed and we got off the stools – something new was happening.”
Travelling from the southernmost point in Britain then the easternmost, westernmost and most northerly, Dave clocked up hundreds of miles on the 32 date ‘Sit Down, Pedal, Pedal and Stand Up’ Tour.
“I’d never done massive distances before,” Dave admits. “I had done the London to Brighton charity ride thing but mainly I used to cycle around London; there is a thing where people who don’t cycle massively overestimate how hard it is, so I’d cycle to a meeting in London and it might be a 10 mile bike ride and you’d get there with your helmet and people go ‘have you cycled? Where from, Bethnal Green? Bloody hell!’ and then treat you like you’d swum the ocean and scaled a cliff to get there.”
Cycling 10 miles is one thing; cycling five times that distance every day for a month is a whole different matter:
“The first 10 days were really hard, absolutely back breaking,” Dave admits. “Once you’ve gone over Dartmoor in a day you feel like Superman, and 10 days of 50 or 60 miles a day you’re in much better shape, it’s the best training, actually doing it.
“The tour isn’t about the cycling,” Dave adds, in case hundreds of people turn up for a night of two-wheeled anecdotes.
“I decided it wasn’t a show about the tour; it couldn’t be in a way, because otherwise the first night would have been absolutely dreadful – all I had done was cycle 50 miles through Cornwall – so I had to turn up with show ready; it informed it in a little way, when the audience knew you had cycled there. They’d look fascinatingly at you: ‘is he going to fall over? How tired does he look? Do you think he really cycled...?’
“I’ve kept the title the same so people aren’t misled cos I’m going back to a couple of places,” says Dave. “If I changed the title people might think it’s a new show; it’d like when Taggart died and they kept calling show Taggart... this makes sure I don’t appear on Watchdog.”
And Dave’s latest hobby/challenge?
“Darts... darts is my new sport,” he smiles. “I genuinely love it; two days ago I got my first 180 and I was punching the air – no witnesses, just me – but I was really properly delighted. You can’t two more extremes, can you – cycling and darts!”
* Dave Gorman’s Sit down, Pedal, Pedal, Stop and Stand Up tour calls in at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham on March 12 and Warwick Arts Centre on March 19 (both sold out), but tickets are still available to see him at Cheltenham Town Hall on March 10; to book call 0844 576 2210.