Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why I love 'The Ricky Gervais Show'

Ricky Gervais / Funniest man on TV today?

Announcer (off-camera, voices over as classical English horns play in background):  For the past few years, Ricky Gervais, Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington have been meeting regularly for a series of pointless conversations.  This is one of them.

(Three funny, real-life English blokes calmly walk into the radio studio and take their seats. The red "recording" light turns on. It's show time.)

Ricky Gervais (as himself): Hello, and welcome to 'The Ricky Gervais Show' with me, Ricky Gervais. Stephen Merchant.

Stephen Merchant (now animated): Hello.

Ricky Gervais (also animated): And that little, round-headed buffoon that is Karl Pilkington.

Karl Pilkington (very animated, but looking a bit timid): Hi.

A comedy round table /
Stephen Merchant, Ricky Gervais 

and Karl Pilkington
Sometimes, you just want to stay home on a Friday evening, turn on the TV set and be entertained while enjoying dinner. It could be a funny line of dialogue delivered humorously by a comedian. Or, even the simple sound of cackling laughter.

The Ricky Gervais Showan animated series that wraps up its second season next week, airs Friday evenings on HBO (9 p.m. ET/PT, with repeats throughout the week). It satisfies my hunger for good comedy on many levels.  It's entertaining and funny ~ occasionally thought provoking, too.  And, to hear Gervais cackle ~ even in animated fashion ~ is pure delight. Get him going and the cackling laughter can be contagious. This is a show where you'll definitely want to activate the closed-captioning on your TV set.

Ricky Gervais / cackling laughter
We live in prosperous times thanks to Gervais, the visionary British comedian, who created The Office and Extras, and whom I consider to be one of the great comedic minds of our time on either side of the pond.  Plus, he's not afraid to poke fun at public figures, either.

During a recent "The TV Column Live" Q & A chat with Washington Post TV columnist Lisa de Moraes, I asked her if there were a better comedic genius than Gervais working in TV today. Her response:  "No, because he dares to look foolish, and he dares to bomb (cough Golden Globes cough) and he dares to go out of his comfort zone (see An Idiot Abroad). He's great.  I don't always love his results, but I applaud his nerve and creativity."

Partners in all things comedy /
The animated Stephen Merchant

and Ricky Gervais
Like Seinfeld, which was a show based on the concept of being about "nothing," The Ricky Gervais Show grew out of a wildly successful podcast that was produced in Britain and, as the announcer at the beginning of each broadcast states, it's a show based around the premise of a "pointless conversation."

Simply, the raison d'être of The Ricky Gervais Show is to entertain and make us laugh. The podcast episodes are animated in a style that's reminiscent to classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons like The Flinstones. Here, Gervais and his creative partner Stephen Merchant take delight in poking fun at their friend and producer Karl Pilkington, drawing out his thoughts and (sometimes ignorant) observations about whatever they happen to be talking about ~ endlessly and mercilessly ~ and goading amusement in Pilkington's theories and personal life.

Real life Ricky Gervais
For the whole half hour ~ and it's works. This is hilarious, unscripted comedy at its best, an animated and visualized version of an audio podcast featuring three funny blokes who happen to be friends. And, thanks to it airing on HBO, the show can take liberties in its content and language.  Plus, as Gervais commented to critics after being notified last year that The Ricky Gervais Show had been renewed for this season: "This can run and run as long as Karl remains a global village idiot."

Karl Pilkington / sympathetic hero
Pilkington is good fodder as the frequent target of Gervais's humor to the point of becoming a sympathetic hero. He maintains a sense of calmness not matter the odds that he's likely to say something that will dig himself into a deeper hole than he's already gotten himself into. Some episodes, you simply wonder what stupidity will spew from Pilkington's brain.

Earlier this year, Gervais spun off a travel documentary series, An Idiot Abroad, that aired in the U.S. on the Science Channel and in Britain on Sky 1. (It has also aired in Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Norway and Finland.)  An Idiot Abroad captured Pilkington's reaction to cultural idiosyncrasies as he explored the Seven Wonders of the World. It turned into a social experiment of global proportions. Ironically, one of the show's central themes was Pilkington's lack of interest in global travel, which Gervais and Merchant exploited for good, cackling laughs.

In both The Ricky Gervais Show and An Idiot Abroad, Pilkington has probably concluded: "With friends like these, who needs enemies?" Then, again, who knows what's going through his mind?

Postscript: On April 11, 2011 HBO confirmed that The Ricky Gervais Show had been renewed for a third season in the U.S.  The third season will debut on April 20, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Love it and love Ricky Gervais!! Thanks for the chuckle!