Raymond & Mr Timpkins Revue
Reginald D Hunter
Rev Obadiah Steppenwolf III
Roy Chubby Brown
Ruth E Cockburn
A late entrant to the world of comedy, Gervais only started to try to tap his talent for making people laugh in 1998, at the age of 36.
Before that, he had spent seven years spent as an entertainments manager for a student union.
And his initial ambitions were musical, playing in a failed Eighties band called Seona Dancing.
He later, briefly, managed the band Suede, before landing a job on London's XFM radio station where he started developing a taste for comedy, and a character called Seedy Boss who would later become The Office's David Brent.
Ricky Gervais: Science on tour
Movies are keeping Ricky Gervais busy these days; yet somewhere between the promotional junkets for The Invention Of Lying and writing and directing Cemetery Junction, he’s found the time to troll round the country on a stand-up tour.
However, he doesn’t seem to have quite found the time to polish off the writing. This show is substantially the same as a work-in-progress show he performed in London back in April, but there’s little evidence of the work actually having progressed, with straightforward routines offering plenty to enjoy, but few surprises.
It’s still a pretty funny 70 minutes, as you’d expect from a comic of Gervais’s talent, but Science feels like he’s treading water. Given that he’s such a perfectionist on his screen work, he seems happy to settle for the adequate, rather than the excellent, on stage.
His shows rarely have much to do with their titles, and Science is probably the most tenuously named yet, as he’s the first to admit. Reading the first paragraph of the Wikipedia entry for ‘science’ is as deep as it gets, unless you count the debunking of the Noah myth or the homophobic prejudices of the religious Right as striking a stand for rationality over superstition.
But we start – after an hilariously inappropriate video by gifted American stand-up Louis CK – with Britain’s Got Talent, and Gervais questioning what qualifications Amanda Holden has to sit in judgment, save for breaking up with Gervais’s old Extras guest star, Les Dennis. It’s graphically gross but forensically pedantic, repeating the points with subtle shifts in emphasis, heavily influenced by Stewart Lee’s style, but made more accessible.
A couple of other comedians are channelled over the night, too, recycling Russell Brand’s famous line about heroin being ‘a bit morish’ and offering a selfish take on the charity Christmas gifts that relies on a very familiar attitude, though the gags are Gervais’s own.
This is why the show never really flies, it sounds too much like a club set that other people could – and in some cases have - done. His extended deconstruction of Noah’s Ark, as told through a kids’ book, for example, is a ridiculously easy target. That doesn’t mean it can’t be funny – and in the early stages this proudly atheist routine is – but the sarcastic comments run out of steam before the legend does. Likewise a rant against fatties is both enjoyably vicious and largely predictable, while the inherent stupidity of opposing gay marriage is nicely encapsulated, but quickly degenerates into descriptions of increasingly depraved sexual activities, using shock as a substitute for surprise.
But taste always takes a holiday when Gervais is on stage. He’s far from PC, and if it’s behind a cloak of irony, it’s sometimes hard to see. An extended routine about an obsessed at the front of a Ken Dodd routine is ruthlessly offensive about someone who’s clearly a troubled woman – especially given Dodd’s well-publicised troubles with a mentally ill stalker. While many of Gervais’s comments are as funny as they are unkind, they are far from guilt-free.
His delivery, as always, is of the cheeky child – saying the latest rude thing he’s heard in the knowledge it will provoke a reaction from the grown-ups, then trying to act all coy when it does. His favourite stance is to jut his face towards the audience – making him almost look as if he’s wearing a cheap cardboard cut-out mask of himself - and pull a fax-innocent ‘what did I say?’ shrug. The fact his voice cracks into a high, vivacious laugh is something of a giveaway, though.
The engaging tongue-in-cheek performance helps ensure this is a fun night. Yes, he does mention his Golden Globes, of course, but rather more cheesily, he’s selling his autographs for £10 a pop at the merchandise stall. Poor chap, must be down on his fortune – that, or keen to avoid the dweeby autograph-hunters that’s another of his bugbears.
An entertaining hour and a bit, yes, but falling short of a memorable one. Maybe Gervais is spreading himself just a little too thin.
|Date of live review: Thursday 15th Oct, '09|
Review by Steve Bennett
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This man is a fraud! In fact I am reminded of the story of the Emperor's new clothes. Sooner or later some little boy or influential critic will get up in the audience and slag him off and everyone will stop laughing with him because they think it's cool and that they should. Instead they will see him for what he is - naked and devoid of any humour and talent whatsoever!
When he eventually gives Richard Herring his comedy persona back I might forgive him - not likely to be soon as Gervais recycled most of Christ On A Bike on his Inside the Actor's Studio' Appearance.
Science was very disappointing, relies on shock humour too much and not even funny jokes, stick to telly Ricky
Very disappointed with the Science set. Recycled jokes designed to provoke nervous laughter. Remember when you were funny Rick? I remember listening to how proud of The Office you were. Rightly so, but you can't be proud of this. Get back to writing with Smerch.
Everyone I know who likes Ricky Gervais doesn't like comedy, they watch the office as if it is the only sitcom in the world, and tell me i don't understand when i say that he is just not funny. I've seen Ed Byrne, Jimmy Carr, Frankie Boyle and even Reg D Hunter in the last year as well as Ricky Gervais and i was laughing almost for all of there routines...except Ricky Gervais. For those of you that say he is a breath of fresh air against political correctness, i saw watch proper stand ups like Jimmy Carr and Frankie Boyle, the do cross the line sometimes but are funny, instead of crossing the line for the sake of crossing the line. The only episode of the Simpsons I have never seen more than once, the one he wrote. When people say he is Britian's best comedian, well it makes me feel glad I'm at least mostly Irish.
Deeply deeply untalented, unfunny man
Terrible live show Fame. £30 for 40 minutes too big for his boots!
He tells jokes about Stephen Hawking. Coming from someone that thought Joey Deacon was the BBC's gift for light entertainment, I think it's superb that we've finally got someone that's both offensive and funny at the same time. The fact that he's also managed to conquer Britain and America with his comedy suggests that I'm not alone on this one. He's a guilty pleasure, as all the best pleasures are.
The Ricky Gervais Show: Season 3
An Idiot Abroad Series 3
Ricky Gervais: Science
An Idiot Abroad
The Ricky Gervais Show
Extras: The Special
Ricky Gervais: Fame
Ricky Gervais Live: Animals/Politics/Fame
All three live shows
For Your Consideration
Extras, Series 2
Ricky Gervais; The Story So Far
by Michael Heatley
Flanimals Of The Deep
Third in Ricky Gervais's series of illustrated children's books
Edinburgh Fringe 2007
Ricky Gervais: Fame!
Edinburgh Fringe 2011
BBC: Ricky Gervais and Warwick Davis discuss the making of Life's Too Short
Invention Of Lying
Ricky Gervais: Fame
Ricky Gervais: Politics
Ricky Gervais: Science
West End run