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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The Office is alright but I can't see why it is viewed as being the 'most original comedy ever'. Programmes like The Day Today were doing this sort of thing half a decade before The Office came along, but because the concept was stretched out to half an hour people seem to have heralded it as the best thing since sliced bread.
All you people who dont find RG comical - are you serious? He is genuinely funny ,happy and comedic. He is the epitome of self deprecation
He has produced some brilliant stuff no doubt. But his world does have a feeling of cruelty about it. There were times when I felt sorry for David Brent.
Fantastic stand up. Genius sitcoms. Amazing podcasts. It is a shame that some people don't understand his satirical comedy, but just as he said himself, he doesn't want those people to find him funny.
There are David Brent characters in all parts of the world; the difference is Gervais takes them too seriously and decides it's OK to laugh at them. This is where his comedy fails to win everyone over. He might have appeared in films in Hollywood but surely that just demonstrates how little Hollywood understands or cares about comedy; they'll just run with the herd.
It's shocking to see that some muppets are unable to see the true genius of Ricky, his comedy is refreshing from the same old jokes that other comics churn out. He has found a level of comedy that sits above some people's interlect and sadly their understanding. He provokes thought and images that we try to ignore in ourselves yet we cant get away from. Don't like him? then you don't understand him.
Saw Fame last night (tickets bought for girlfriend's birthday). Possibly the worst £34+bf I've ever spent. Just not a funny show, no real thread, and just random stories. "What about global warming, eh?" Yeah, real smooth. "Then Karl said this..." - why not just get Karl to do a show instead? Was looking at my watch after 15 minutes. Couldn't wait for it to be over and was disappointed when he came back for an encore after 70 mins of drudgery. General mood on the tube home was of similar feelings of "erm... what was that all about?". Stick to sitcoms, you're a decent TV actor but the stand-up is terrible.
I am sorry to say this guy is just not funny. While I do admit that The Office has some clever observations, his stand-up routine is outdated and his overstated ego ruins any good material that that does manage to slip through. As for the episode of the Simpsons he wrote, yikes. Please leave us alone Gervais and take a long hard look at your material.
Gervais revives The Office, as Peter Kay sits down... all for Comic Relief
28/02/2013 Permanent link
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