Television comedian Dave Gorman spoke to The Independent Online about his hidden talent for rock balancing, his passion for darts and the time he saw Tony Bennett urinating. His new show 'Genius,' will air on BBC 2 in September.
What would you normally be doing if you weren’t talking me?
Playing darts. I have a spare room with a darts board in it. What I should be doing is writing, but what I would be doing is playing darts in the spare room.
What’s the most surprising thing that’s ever happened to you?
I once walked into a room to find Tony Bennett urinating. Providing any more detail than that won’t make it better.
Is there a phrase you use all the time? I use the word ‘dandy’ quite a lot. And the word ‘why.’ Sometimes people look at me like “Are we in a sketch from the 1940s?” Although it sounds like an affectation it’s not, because I grew up hearing those sorts of words.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m a professional show-off so talents are rarely hidden. But something few people know about me is that I’m a rock balancer. I balance rocks on top of each other. There’s a page on Wikipedia that lists rock balancers. But its not very extensive, it’s got Phil, Dan, Andy Goldsworthy and me. Once I got an email from a really angry professional rock balancer, saying “How dare you!” as if I was ruining the reputation of genuine rock balancers. I had to tell him it was Wikipedia and he could go in and change it if he liked.
Describe the house you grew up in:
A detached house that was too small, because I’m a twin. An extension was built not long after me and my twin arrived. I can remember the phone number and all sorts of things about it, the woodchip wallpaper. It was on the kind of street where every house looks the same. Except ours, because of the extension. The reason we were able to have it built was that it had an extraordinary view of an old oak tree which straddled our garden and our next-door-neighbours’. So we had a strangely bigger garden than every other house on our street because, due to building regulations, the house couldn’t be built too near to it. It was a humble modern estate in Walton on the Hill, Stafford. Identikit houses all along, except ours.
What did you want to be as a child?
I wanted to be a writer. I remember at a very young age writing a story about a knife and fork and spoon. One of them was an editor and one of them was a writer. I remember taking it to my mum for her approval. And I was very young. Young enough to be writing about cutlery. But also, weirdly knowing the word “editor” and making the spoon the editor. I remember my parents looking at each other and probably thinking “What have we got here?”
What the best advice you’ve ever received?
Turn up on time and carry a pencil.
What advice do you wish you’d received when you were younger?
No because the joy of life is finding it out for itself. I get emails from kids who want to get into comedy asking for advice. And people want to tell you the shortcut into it, but there isn’t one. The truth for all of it is you go and do gigs for free until someone pays you. That’s it. But people think you’re being curmudgeonly if you say that.
If you could meet anyone from history who would it be and what would you ask them?
My first thought would be Tommy Cooper, but I’m not sure he’d count as an historical figure. All I’d like to ask him would be to put on a show, please.
Name something you are embarrassed to admit…
[Laughs] I don’t think there is. I don’t have any truck with ideas about guilty secrets and embarrassing music. There are a couple of McFly songs that I like but I’m not embarrassed to admit it. I’m relatively free of embarrassment I think!