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November 7, 2004



What's a googlewhack?

"It's what you get when you type two words into the Internet search engine Google and it comes back with only one entry."

So wrote Jason Zinoman in his entertaining article in Friday's New York Times about Dave Gorman, an Englishman who turned wasting time on the internet into an art form.

You think you're a master?

Just check out this guy.

Here's the story.


Search-Engine Serendipity and Frequent-Flier Miles

Dave Gorman is an inspiration to lazy writers everywhere, and not just because he's a David Sedaris-like storyteller with uncanny timing.

What might be most impressive about this often-exasperated Englishman is that he has turned the most mundane and common activity - wasting time on the Internet - into an art form.

"Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure," an affectionate ode to distraction written and performed by Mr. Gorman, who insists that every word is true, begins with an early midlife crisis.

After turning 31, Mr. Gorman concluded that it was time for him to grow up and be taken seriously.

So he set out to do what he considered to be two very mature things: grow a beard and write a novel.

The beard turned out great.

Initially, Mr. Gorman's novel was sidetracked by minor distractions - e-mail messages, Internet surfing, getting drunk - but he soon stumbled upon a gloriously pointless diversion that would take over three months of his life: the googlewhack.

If you've never heard this funny-sounding word and your job productivity is high, you might want to ignore the next paragraph.

A googlewhack is what you get when you type two words into the Internet search engine Google and it comes back with only one entry.


Finding these random pairs is not easy, but while some people might squander a few minutes searching for googlewhacks, Mr. Gorman, a strange, deeply obsessive man, traveled more than 90,000 miles, around the world several times, in a googlewhack quest that is the subject of this hilarious show.

In his last performance piece, "Are You Dave Gorman?" Mr. Gorman, who describes his work as "documentary comedy," told the story of his attempt to find 54 people with his name. (He met more than 100.)

His new lark is even more random: an attempt to meet the owners of 10 consecutive, connected googlewhacked sites.

Mr. Gorman contacted the owner of a googlewhacked site, tracked this person down in France and asked him to find another googlewhack. Once that man discovered a site and contacted its owner in Washington, Mr. Gorman was on a plane to find him - and, of course, the next googlewhack. And on and on he went.

Mr. Gorman relates this picaresque tale with the help of an excellently produced slideshow, which includes Mr. Gorman's smiling mug in, among other places, Washington, Paris, Australia and Columbus, Ohio.

He appears to have a real affection for the people he meets, which is not surprising since many of them are obsessives just like him: they include a man who collects photographs of women with dogs, a single-minded creationist and a closeted gay man who might be Kylie Minogue's biggest fan.

Mr. Gorman describes each of them as "lovely, lovely people" - except the creationist, whose lack of interest in finding a googlewhack draws Mr. Gorman's ire.

Mr. Gorman delivers his half-embarrassed tales with the precision of Mussolini's trains, and his magnetic performance displays some of the oddball intensity of the early routines of Steve Martin (one of Mr. Gorman's heroes); his stories, filled with quirky observations and unpredictable turns, have many laughs but few jokes.

So what if his novel never comes out (although a book about his googlewhacking has)?

Mr. Gorman, the Picasso of procrastination, proves that much can be accomplished by avoiding that next deadline.

Here's hoping that he doesn't try to be taken seriously again.

"Dave Gorman's Googlewhack! Adventure" is at the Village Theater, 158 Bleecker Street, Greenwich Village, (212) 253-0623, through December 4.

November 7, 2004 at 04:01 PM | Permalink


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I found it interesting to observe Mr. Gorman's observation of the creationists booklet and how the teacher, a younger version of the creatinist, does not look at all like the 81 year old man the creationist has become over time. He posts a current photo of the creatioist over the younger face in the booklet to draw a laugh while ignoring the fact that in just a few short years Mr. Gorman looks very little like the picture of himself posted on his own screen. Mr. Gorman, live on stage, looks like a man enduring a hangover while the man in his video clips, book covers and programs, looks much younger, fresh and open to others ideas.

Posted by: dee | Oct 15, 2005 9:44:18 AM

Gibble Skwomb Is One!

Posted by: Jim | Jan 10, 2005 11:59:49 AM

Way to go Andrew!! After I posted my comment here I actually found two. They weren't accepted at the official googlewhack site (screw them!) but at least I can now die a happy girl.

Posted by: Lisa | Nov 11, 2004 6:56:26 PM

Found one. http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=syncopatic+convolution

Posted by: Andrew | Nov 11, 2004 4:41:36 PM

I tried, I really did, but the best I could come up with was 3 entries...it might not be a googlewhack, but yes, this is how I want to spend my mid-life crisis too.

Posted by: Lisa | Nov 11, 2004 2:26:42 PM

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