DAVE GORMAN'S GOOGLEWHACK! ADVENTURE (UK) written and performed by Dave Gorman. Lakeside Terrace, York Quay Centre (235 Queens Quay West). Tonight till Sunday (Thursday, April 14 to 17) at 8:30 pm, Q&A April 16. Rating: NNNNN
Dave Gorman has made a career out of procrastination and day-dreaming.
His solo shows follow those vague musings that inevitably strike when we're supposed to be doing real work. Profound, earth-shattering questions like: how many people are there in the world who have the same name as me?
In Are You Dave Gorman?, the former British stand-up recounted his quest to shake the hands of 54 guys (the number of cards in a deck) with his name. He ended up travelling the world and meeting more than 100 Dave Gormans. He keeps in touch with many of them.
"It makes your address book look pretty silly," he admits on the phone from L.A., where he's wrapping up a run of his latest show, Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure. The show opens tonight at the World Stage Flying Solo festival.
Googlewhack! is a term for the rare combination of two words that, when entered into the Google search engine, come up with one lone site.
Not as easy as you might expect, considering the billions of sites in Google's index.
"One of my favourites is 'bamboozle' and 'panfish,'" says Gorman. "It has a weird resonance, and it sort of makes sense. I imagine you could bamboozle a panfish."
How about "obsessive" and "compulsive"? Definitely not a Googlewhack. But they describe Gorman's attempt - after a friend threw down the cyber-gauntlet - to find a chain of 10 consecutive Googlewhacks! and meet the owners of the sites one at a time. All before his 32nd birthday.
The show recounts Gorman's entertaining quest, which takes him to DC, Paris, Australia and beyond. He meets everyone from a man who collects pictures of women with dogs to a closeted gay man obsessed with Kylie Minogue.
"In eight weeks I travelled 90,000 miles," he informs me. "My average speed was 50 miles per hour."
He financed the trips with the advance a publisher had given him for a novel. He never wrote that novel - too busy wasting time online - and ended up having to pay back the advance, which acted as a very practical catalyst for the show.
"It took 150 performances," says the anal-retentive Gorman, "to pay it back."
The show has travelled from the Sydney Opera House and off-Broadway to Montreal's Just For Laughs Comedy Festival.
Gorman insists the show isn't about Google, or even computers. The only thing he had to clear with Google was the use of some artwork.
"You don't need to know code or anything to enjoy the show," he laughs. "Listen, there's a book called Dice Man, it's a big cult classic in Britain. It's about a man who lives his life according to the roll of the dice. No one's ever bought the book because they love dice. Computers and Googlewhacks are the equivalent of the dice in my story. The difference being that this story actually happened."
Of course, there's more to the show than just amusing autobiographical storytelling - or what one wag calls documentary comedy.
A common theme running through Gorman's shows is the making of human connections even as technology threatens to dehumanize us. Through his globe-travelling, he makes this a less lonely planet.
Not that Gorman will admit to any of that.
"I hate when performers get preachy," he says. "Those things are there if you want and they're not if you don't. My shows are just crazy, entertaining stories. When you start telling people there's a message, you're undoing that message."
This year's World Stage festival proves that one isn't the loneliest number. Subtitled Flying Solo, it features more than 20 one-person productions from around the globe. For the first time ever, the whole fest takes place at a single locale - Harbourfront Centre. And you can’t beat the $25-or-less ticket price. Here’s NOW’s spotlight on some of the best of the fest.
The World Stage Flying Solo festival, a three-week international theatre, visual arts and literary fest presented by Harbourfront Centre at various venues on Queens Quay West. (See NOW's related listings sections for specific events.) Runs to May 1. Mainstage shows $25; Kafka And Son $15; International readings $8; some events free. 416-973-4000, www.harbourfrontcentre.com/worldstage.