On the night that the third series of Dave Gorman Modern Life Is Goodish I caught up with Dave Gorman at UKTV Live.
The series sees Dave Gorman take a unique look at the modern world through an entertaining presentation, has already been commissioned for a fourth and fifth series. And quite rightly so, because it’s brilliant!
The third series of Modern Life Is Goodish begins tonight…
Yeah, weird. I’ve never said that before. I’ve definitely never gone to series four and five before!
It’s actually the first thing I’ve done that can just be repeated, as it doesn’t reach a conclusion really. I suppose Genius you could have done more of, but the truth is the number of ideas we’d get compared to the number that we would want too do, did make it very hard to keep doing more.
Is it daunting having to keep the series going until 2017?
It’s always daunting, and the truth is, when you’re a working stand-up, a good year, if you’re really hardworking, is generating one hour of good comedy a year… and we do eight a year.
We did six in series one, and now we’ve done two series of eight so we’ve done 22, in three years.
How is each show put together?
We don’t work out themes in advance, and the themes are never big. They’re never Family, Love, Sex, Death.
They’re little niche areas, and the reason for that is that we start by just emptying our heads of everything that’s been collected since we last met, and we build little islands of material, and it’s then my job to go – “Oh that and that kind of fits together.”
I always hold on to something big, that I’ve already got, for the last recording. We’re not going to spend that early, we know it’s really good, we tried it out live and it’s great.
What’s the reason for that?
Because we’re going to get tired, and at the end of the run when we’re on our last legs and we’ve got two more shows to do, we’re going to be really grateful to know we’ve got something there.
And every series so far, by the time we’ve got to the end, we look at the board and go – “We never got to do that did we? That would have been good.” – so we’ve always got a bit spare at the end that we’re really excited about, that will become the last recording of the next series.
As long as I can keep doing that, then I feel quite confident going forward.
Do you like the collaborative nature of how the show is put together?
A very funny writer made a very good observation of how Sudoku is marketed using very aggressive language. That then became 15 minutes of material in the show, because we as a group then started talking about that observation.
That’s the pleasure of it, it’s collaborative. You can’t go away, lock yourself in a room and go, “I’ve got it!” It’s always about talking to people.
We sit a room and we talk, and at the end of the day I go away and make something out of what we talked about. It’s those kind of conversations that become material.
We’re not writing jokes when we’re having those conversations. We’re discussing areas and things that niggle us and gets us going.
The show is rarely about pointing out one error that someone’s made. It’s more about a pattern that goes on.
A lot of shows do this, and I don’t hate the shows, it’s just not right for me. They’ll go “Have you seen this clip of this newsreader from WAKCB Kentucky?” sort of thing. And you go, well you haven’t seen that either! You live in England.
If you’ve seen that, you’ve seen it on Buzzfeed, somebody else has collected that because it was funny and put it on the internet. So actually what you’re doing is going “Some other people found this funny” and have shared it, and now I’m sharing it.
That’s not my job! It’s the stuff we have seen, it’s the stuff we have bumped into that works for this show. I’m not saying those things are never funny or never worth using, it’s just that’s not how this show works.
One of the rules we had on day one was to never bring in stuff from Buzzfeed, it’s not that Buzzfeed is shit, it’s great for a lot of stuff, but it’s already done it.
TV people are often a bit wrong headed about the internet. TV sometimes behaves as if only it has got the internet, and that nobody at home has.
For example you can be watching a panel show and they’ll show a clip that’s on YouTube at the moment, and it’s got 56 million views, it’s being shared on a panel show with a million viewers, as if it was their discovery! Everyone who’s living online these days, probably saw that on Tuesday.
TV is meant to be bringing to your attention things that you haven’t already seen.
It’s so arrogant of telly, that they’re some sort of portal to the internet for some people. You’re not, you’re not for my mum anymore, that’s over. And it’s our job to find new things.
It has to be mine, I have to own the idea and the observation and the evidence in some way. Otherwise I’m a jukebox, and I’m not happy being a jukebox for other people’s stuff, that’s not the deal.
Why do you think people love the show so much?
A lot of people don’t. I’m well aware of that as well. I think for the people who really get it and like it, it’s an example of something that has been cared for, and I think a lot of TV hasn’t been cared for.
Normally when people record a half hour show they record for 90 minutes, and the wisdom behind that is to just keep all the best bits.
With this show, there’s so much structure, and so many callbacks, we’re trying to make it feel like an essay that follows one train of thought.
If we record 55 minutes in a night, that’s too long, our edit is going to be tricky and the show isn’t going to be as good as it should be. If we do 50 minutes it’s about right, as the show comes just under with adverts.
I’m trying to do the editing before we get to the studio, which goes against TV wisdom.
Is that why it was really important for you to do it in a venue as opposed to a TV studio?
Absolutely. One of the very first things I said was that it has to be in a venue. TV people often don't give a shit about the live audience, a lot of times you go to watch a recording and you're sat behind five big Dalek cameras and you're watching it on a monitor way up there, they over-record and you feel like props.
Day one we wanted to make sure that people have a good time, so we put on a live show for them, we're not doing things twice, it's just a two hour show, because we record two shows a night, with an interval in between, and the cameras are behind them.
This sounds like I've reinvented television, I haven't but why isn't television more like that anyway? It's not difficult.
Finally, will you be writing any more books at all?
I don't know. I doubt it. Not for a while. This takes about eight months of the year, four of those months are hell, and all the books have basically taken me six months to do, so there isn't a way of overlapping the two and I'm about to be a dad.
So I think that puts the books a bit on the back agenda for now, but I really enjoy doing them. I've always enjoyed the variety of switching between the different things, but time is the one thing I can't make more of it exist.