Stars with work to do: Ricky Gervais

Published: 28th Sep, 2009

Somehow, totally impossible to like…


Now, we’re not big on bandwagon jumping, but it certainly does seem like there’s a swollen mass of people who wouldn’t stop to aid Ricky Gervais were he becoming ever softened beneath a thundercloud of alleyway jabs, stomps, and insanely exaggerated rabbit punches. The man, for one reason or another, is really difficult to like. And yet, we really want to like him. We’re just having a bit of trouble.

For starters, The Office was really good. But just good. In the same manner that most British sitcoms are rubbish, it shone, but in a contextual way. Were you to heap it in alongside The Larry Sanders Show, Seinfeld, Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and even the US version of The Office, it wouldn’t be quite so noticeable for its big shiny brilliance. It was simply a very well constructed British study of idiots, as has been the strength of other great shows like Fawlty Towers and Peep Show, and the faux-documentary style used on the programme stretches back to Spinal Tap, around fifteen years earlier. So, Gervais created something very good, very funny, but by no means groundbreaking – and what really sticks in the craw is that he appears to view himself as something of a visionary. He isn’t one.

Also slightly bugging us is that post-The Office, he has seemingly oscillated between being rather smug and, at other times, a little bit desperate – such as during his uncomfortable rehashing of his famous Office dance during Live 8, in which he didn’t just play David Brent, he appeared to become him.

Extras, unfortunatelywasn’t nearly as witty and poignant as those involved seemed to think – it rather resembled a parade of serious actors self-consciously sending themselves up for a giggle. Although it was possibly only them who were giggling.  And, worst of all, are his chat show love-ins with his old buddy Jonathan Ross, where the two men have a massive fight using masked compliments instead of fists and baseball bats. Serious bricking up of the Interestment lounge, and much dramatic dry puking often ensues.

Work to do Ricky. Work to do. Then we’ll be your friend.

Below is an awkward conversation with Garry “Larry Sanders” Shandling…

Josh Burt
About the author:
Josh has been a writer and journalist for the best part of twenty years and has written for modern staples like FHM and Cosmopolitan and The Daily Telegraph and The Sun. He has also written a small handful of so-so books that you can still buy.

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