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Dave Gorman in Dave Gorman's Googlewhack!

(Photo © Dan Goldsmith
Dave Gorman was supposed to write a novel. He had a very nice contract with Random House and a sizable monetary advance -- but when he sat down at his computer, he could not start chapter one. The problem, he states, is that his computer is connected to the Internet, which contains "everything in the whole wide world ever," and this can be a bit distracting. A random e-mail from a stranger telling him that he's a "googlewhack" puts into motion the hilarious chain of events related in his compelling one-man tour de force Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a "googlewhack" is what happens when you key two unrelated words into the Internet search engine Google and come back with only one response. By extension, the term also applies to the owners of these websites. In Gorman's case, the words entered were "Francophile" and "namesakes" (which, of course, no longer qualify him as a googlewhack, as those two words now pull up several websites -- most of which relate to the writer-performer's current show). When Gorman discovered that he was a googlewhack, his first impulse was to try out different word combinations to see if he could find other googlewhacks.

For anyone else, the adventure might have ended there, but this is Dave Gorman. This is the man who, as a result of a drunken bet with his friend Danny Wallace, set out to find as many people named Dave Gorman as possible. His hilarious show Are You Dave Gorman? -- which earned its author a Drama Desk nomination for outstanding solo performance in 2001 -- related this unlikely quest that took Gorman and Wallace around the globe, meeting Dave Gormans everywhere from Ireland to Israel to Norway to multiple destinations within both the United Kingdom (where Gorman lives) and the United States. When another friend (himself a googlewhack) bets him that he can't meet 10 googlewhacks in a row, the new adventure begins in earnest. Gorman is resistant at first; after all, he has turned 31, grown a beard, and believes that he's put his childish behavior behind him. But through a bizarre sequence of events, he ends up meeting the first five googlewhacks in a chain and feels that he just can't stop there.

Gorman is a marvelous storyteller with a buoyant energy and a charming demeanor. His lilting British accent, combined with his comically expressive face, adds to the pleasure of seeing him perform. He displays a knowing self-mockery but also the sheer joy of telling a good story; his comic timing is impeccable, and the pacing and delivery of his presentation flawless. His rapport with the audience is so good that he gets audible reactions every time his googlewhack adventure hits a snag. No director is credited in the program, which makes Gorman's achievement even more remarkable; he is aided by several designers, including Steven Capone (set), Deborah Constantine (lighting), and Peter Fitzgerald (sound). However, the most impressive technical achievement in the show belongs to Gorman himself, who has created a witty PowerPoint presentation to accompany his spoken narrative. Projected on a screen, it displays the photographic evidence of Gorman's journey, as well as pie charts and other graphics that amusingly detail the absurdity of his project.

What makes Gorman's tale more than just amusing is the depth of feeling that the author displays. We get to see the loneliness that drove him to seek out a fellow googlewhack in Washington, D.C., the despair that he experienced in Austin, Texas, and the conflicted emotions that arose during the final leg in his journey. Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure is ultimately about the search for human connection as recounted by a man who has gone to great lengths and traveled even greater distances to find it.

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