-by Ken Plume
Ricky Gervais, along with Stephen Merchant, is the co-creator of both the original British and American versions of The Office and two series of the BBC/HBO hit Extras, as well co-host of the most downloaded podcast in history.
He’s written an episode of The Simpsons, performed a trio of sold-out stand-up tours (all of which have been released on DVD in the UK as Animals, Politics, & Fame), co-starred in A Night At The Museum & For Your Consideration, written a series of Flanimals books for children, and won more awards than you can shake a stick at. He also fronted the big Hollywood flick Ghost Town and makes his big screen directorial debut with next year’s This Side Of The Truth.
On Saturday, November 15th, he brings his US stand-up tour to HBO in the form of Ricky Gervais: Out Of England, airing at 9pm EST.
I’ve spoken with Gervais more times than I can shake that aforementioned virtual stick at, and this is our latest…
KP: I was just looking over my records and this is actually the fourth time that I’ve done an in-depth piece with you…
GERVAIS: Wow. Wow. There you go. Cool. I’ve got nothing new to tell you.
KP: And not once have you interviewed me. I’m kind of hurt about that.
GERVAIS: Well, we’ll do a mutual one. I’ll start. What’s the best interview you’ve ever done with me?
KP: I think it would probably be the second one.
KP: The nerves were kind of gone. You were successful but not quite as successful as you would eventually become.
GERVAIS: So still humble.
KP: You still had that touch of humility…
GERVAIS: No… Now I know you’re lying, because I’ve always been an arrogant swine. Even when I was a nobody.
KP: You covered it really well early on, though.
KP: It wasn’t until after Extras that really you just said, “Fuck it all.” Then all the pretense was gone.
GERVAIS: I know. Exactly. I might as well just admit it.
KP: But it was a beautiful point.
KP: Now, though, I’m sure this is going to be a complete disaster.
GERVAIS: Yeah, but that’s your job - to make it look good.
KP: And I promise I will try my best.
GERVAIS: All I do is give you one revelation.
KP: Oh, I get one?
KP: I like the fact that you’re parceling them out now.
GERVAIS: The reason I’ll never box again is because I killed a man. That’s not true. I’ll have to make something up to be exciting. Look, I’ll tell you what; we’ll stick to the truth and you make it look exciting.
KP: You should just throw out the name of a minor UK celebrity that I’ll never follow up on.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah. Oh dear.
KP: Or you killed Bill Oddie.
GERVAIS: Hey! Now there’s a reference.
KP: You took out at least one of the Goodies.
GERVAIS: Yeah! (laughs)
KP: As part of your long, ongoing Goodie feud.
GERVAIS: I knocked them off their bike.
KP: Yes, yes. While they were doing the funky gibbon.
GERVAIS: Wow. Well, that’s more than most British people know.
KP: Probably with good reason.
GERVAIS: You just summed up the Goodies.
KP: Yes. A bike and a funky gibbon. And being knocked off something at some point.
KP: I guess the big news since we last talked was that you finally took the plunge and tried to conquer the US.
GERVAIS: Well, I don’t know if I’ve ever taken a plunge. It’s sort of been drip feeding. But they had The Office on BBC America, and then the Golden Globes helped a little bit - and then, you know, Extras on cable, but I think it’s that nice sort of cult thing. The right people are aware of you and the offers came in and I took a few little cameos. Obviously with Christopher Guest. He’s a comedy hero. Ben Stiller, I’d worked with him on Extras. I returned the favor there. And we know what happened with Night At The Museum. I think it made about 800 million dollars or something. That was fun. I only got half of that, obviously.
KP: That’s why you’re now on your third agent.
GERVAIS: (laughs) And I did a film called Stardust to work with De Niro. I got him in Extras. So yeah, I need more than one reason to do a film. And Ghost Town, there was loads of reasons. It was the funniest script I’d read. It was really collaborative. It was just my sort of role. It was that sort of unsympathetic sort of smart assed curmudgeon, and it had some redemption - which is one of my favorite themes now. But I’ve never really done things to up my profile or further my career. I’ve done things that were fun and were right. And I probably turned down some things that were fun and were right, but I was busy on other things that were more fun and more right.
KP: Now, when you say redemption is one of your favorite themes now…
GERVAIS: I never understood it growing up. I was one of those kids that didn’t understand things like the prodigal son. I thought, “Well, why is he getting all the attention? He screwed up once.” But as you get older you understand that, you know, forgiveness is possibly the greatest virtue. You’ve got to be a very cold person not to genuinely accept a heartfelt apology. And in fiction it is the most beautiful theme. I think we did it in The Office. I’m particularly proud of how we did it in Extras with Andy Millman, who was basically body snatched by fame - this trivial, awful, shallow, shiny object - and left behind the total opposite of that, which is friendship. And that was a joy. I was more excited about that than all the guests and all the funny lines put together.
KP: I would say that Andy was a willing participant in his body snatching…
GERVAIS: Well, of course he was, but that’s what it is, isn’t it? When you become a zombie you like eating flesh…
KP: And you’re wondering why all your friends don’t…
GERVAIS: Yeah. This metaphor’s gone… I don’t know what we’re doing now.
KP: I’m waiting to see how far you take it.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Wow. What I’m saying is he was a willing participant, but it wasn’t his fault. It’s like that episode of Batman when they gave Robin a pill and he was suddenly bad. Batman knew he couldn’t help it. He had to fight him, but he still loves him.
KP: Do you think it’s sort of a case where you get in too deep after a certain point?
GERVAIS: Are we still on Batman now?
KP: We could still be on Batman if you want to talk about that instead…
GERVAIS: No. (laughs) I tried to throw in a worse metaphor so you took your eye off the first one.
KP: You almost accomplished that.
GERVAIS: What I’m saying is yeah, these people are willing participants, but it’s not their fault because, by definition, they have been body snatched. It was gradual. It started off, you think he’s an alright guy - and he was a very normal man. More so than David Brent. Cleverer than David Brent. A more normal person than David Brent. But because of all those things, he was a more dangerous man than David Brent in many ways. And when he put his mind to it, he decided that if he couldn’t beat them, he’d join them. And when we were first writing Extras, we realized that there was something missing with Andy Millman, and that was that he was alright and he didn’t care. And we had to give him that obsession. We had to give him this foible. We had to give him this jeopardy. And that was the fun duality with Andy Millman - that he was normal and funny and he was surrounded by idiots except when he needed something from someone. So when he talked to a director he was suddenly a bumbling fool who was on the back foot and would sell his soul, and he did sell his soul at the beginning of series 2 when, you know… and I wasn’t even saying he should have walked away. I’m saying that that’s one scenario that might happen when you give up integrity for success, in a way. I just think he would have been happier going away and doing something he liked on possibly even a smaller scale. And of course, a lot of it was a little bit of a parallel universe with my career. There but for the grace of God, go I. I always took the other route. But who knows. What if the BBC had said, “We want The Office to have catchphrases and we want you to appeal to four year olds.”
KP: Andy always struck me as a character that had a delayed sense of self-awareness.
GERVAIS: Well yeah, because… you see, that’s what happens as well, because these things are flattering. Some people say, “Oh, he’d never do that.” And sometimes the money goes up. Or their appeal goes down. Or they look around and they’re very Nietzschean about it. They start… people grow stronger on the things you leave behind. It starts getting to them. Some actors take roles because they don’t want another actor to take it. Some actors take roles because even though it’s a bad film, and they know it’s a bad film, they think they can make it a good one. Some actors take films because they think they won’t be asked again. Some actors take films because they don’t give a shit about the film and they want the paycheck. You know, there’s loads of reasons why these people take it. And they’re all fine. All those reasons are fine. But integrity is doing something that you know you shouldn’t really. There’s nothing wrong with doing a comedy that’s catchphrases and putting on wigs if that’s what you like. But it’s if you don’t like that - if you know there’s something better, if you know there’s something more in you, if you know you think you might regret it, if it’s not what you set out to do - than it’s a compromise. And I think compromise in art is a bad thing. And I think it’s a bad thing across the board, by definition, because you either care or you don’t. And if you care, I don’t know what a compromise is, really. One of my favorite sayings is “comedy is a horse designed by committee”. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a camel. Let me say now - I’ve got nothing against the camel…
KP: Well, that’s just to placate the Camel League…
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah. My favorite bit of the camel is the hump. So let’s get that out there. All I’m saying is, Andy knew… he took a risk with his happiness, and it didn’t pay out.
KP: So how close have you personally come to crossing that line?
GERVAIS: Well, you know, I get these little challenges all the time. Again, there’s nothing wrong with doing adverts. I think I did a couple first out, but I wasn’t proud of them. And when you don’t need to do them, how rich do you need to be? I remember I said I don’t do adverts, and I got offered… it was a drinks company in America, offered me a million pounds for a day’s work. And I thought about it and I thought, “That is a lot of money.” But I thought, “I’d hate myself.” And I said no. They came up with two million. They thought I was negotiating. Which annoyed me. So then I really wanted to take that two million, but I couldn’t. (laughs)
KP: So, because of your nonparticipation, you killed the re-launch of Mr. Pibb.
GERVAIS: (laughs) There’s things that sometimes I don’t do because I don’t want to have people sick of the sight of me. I could be on every panel show in England. I could be on telly every day. But what good would it… why? These people who look through the paper and go, “Where am I? Where am I? I’m not in the paper today. Maybe I don’t exist any more.” Jesus. You know, we put that in there when Maggie says to Andy, “You’ll never be happy because you’ll never be famous enough.” If you judge your happiness on how famous you are or how many column inches you’ve got, or ratings… then you won’t be happy. You’ll never be happy. You’ve got to be happy in what you do. And I couldn’t be prouder of The Office if it had got no ratings, no awards, I couldn’t be prouder of it. Because I enjoyed every minute of it. I enjoyed every minute of writing, acting, and editing. I did love the awards because I like the look on the other people’s faces. (laughs)
KP: Did you ever go up with a camera just to capture that moment personally?
GERVAIS: (laughs) It’s usually captured for me, but they always clap and smile like they’re going, “Oh, I’m glad you won.”
KP: See, at that point, you might as well get the digital camera out, go up to each of them in turn, ask someone to hold the camera, and take the photo as you’re holding the trophy.
GERVAIS: And go, “Look at you. Say it, admit it - you’re gutted. Admit it - you are absolutely dying inside.”
KP: “Would you like to touch it?”
GERVAIS: Yeah. “Admit it - you want to shove this Golden Globe right up my ass, don’t you?”
KP: “Come on, say it…”
GERVAIS: The Golden Globe is actually the perfect shape. It is a giant metal suppository. The Emmy? That would be like something out of Se7en. But the Globe, I think, wouldn’t cause too much pain.
KP: See, you should just invite the other four nominees on stage. You get them all together with you holding the trophy in the center.
GERVAIS: Hmm. Exactly. It would be like a group of firemen with a battering ram. It would be like that statue when they’re putting up the flag.
KP: Yes, with you holding it aloft.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Oh dear!
KP: That is the moment, I think, where they show their true acting skills.
GERVAIS: Yeah. (laughs) Oh dear.
KP: That’s a career defining moment. I noticed that, particularly on the panel shows when you rarely used to do it in the past…. I wouldn’t say panel shows - when you were a guest on a show…
GERVAIS: Yeah, I do chat shows…
KP: I was thinking like a Room 101…
GERVAIS: Oh, that was fun ’cause that was almost like a piece of work. Because… yeah, I mean, I try to be funny and stuff, so I would do things like that where it’s… I do chat shows and I do things like Room 101 and I do things like Desert Island Discs because it feels almost nearly a part of your body of work. Whereas when it’s like this… yeah. I mean, I would still do those. I do those sort of things.
KP: I was just looking at you as a guest on Vic Reeves Examines…
GERVAIS: My god. I think that may have been the first show that I did as a guest when I was just starting out.
KP: You were still on the 11 O’Clock Show…
GERVAIS: I know. I think that was the very first thing, and it was this thing about whistling, and it was… there was no pre-interview. Well, you could tell. It was totally made up as it went along. He’d made it up as he went along, and I had to react. It was quite a nice sort of shambles, as I remember.
KP: It certainly plays as an interesting piece of make it up on the fly TV.
GERVAIS: Yeah, yeah. I don’t think anyone was watching it.
KP: No, and I think Vic knew that.
GERVAIS: Yes, I think that’s exactly right. It was almost like radio that they filmed.
KP: There was a little segment showing what art little Vic had done at school…
GERVAIS: I think he takes those pictures quite seriously. I think he sells them now.
KP: He does, but I could see the look on your face going, “Should I give my real opinion?”
GERVAIS: (laughs) I can’t remember them. I did go to an exhibition and he was very funny. The art, you know… he’s very funny.
KP: And then you had the whistling gentleman from the pub come in.
GERVAIS: I can’t remember that.
KP: You sorta gave a look like, “I’m gonna have to react to this. I’m gonna have to be really positive.”
GERVAIS: Oh god. What was this on YouTube?
KP: Oh no. It wound up on the internet. Somebody put the entire series up that they had recorded on VHS.
GERVAIS: Jesus Christ. Yeah.
KP: Everyone has copies of something somewhere.
GERVAIS: Well, this interview is already on YouTube.
KP: It is. It’s already a two star rating.
GERVAIS: I’m listening to it back now just a few seconds out of synch just to make sure what I said.
KP: Have I already been reviewed negatively?
GERVAIS: Yeah, there’s some comments coming up now. I’ve never found either of them funny.
KP: Yeah. Well.
GERVAIS: Oh, there’s a good one. They go, “They both rock,” so it’s even.
KP: Yeah, but that’s probably John Hodgman saying that.
KP: You’re right. I mean, you’re not wrong.
GERVAIS: I like that in an intellectual.
KP: John’s a friend of mine. In fact I’m the one who send John your way all those many years ago.
GERVAIS: Oh, right. He interviewed me for The New Yorker.
KP: He was basically running up against a brick wall trying to get in contact with you, so I discretely passed along your cell number and said, “Just call him.”
GERVAIS: Excellent. Well he’s done a lovely turn in The Other Side Of The Truth.
KP: And now look, he gets in the movie.
GERVAIS: He’s great.
KP: And I never got a phone call.
GERVAIS: I didn’t know you could play a funny vicar.
KP: You know what? I’m probably less versatile than I think.
GERVAIS: (laughs) I would love that on my CV. Just the opening sentence. “Dear Sir or Madam, I would like to start by saying I am probably less versatile than I think. But this is what I think anyway. I am very versatile. And you just turn it around in the first two sentences.
KP: “My entire goal with this CV is to keep expectations low. I cannot fail to impress.”
GERVAIS: (laughs) Oh dear.
KP: “I’ve done very little in my life. As you will see.”
GERVAIS: “Remember - you have to gauge everything by calibrating it at 50% lower than everything I say, and then you will get a true reading of what I am really like as a person.”
KP: “I perceive myself as mostly competent.”
GERVAIS: Yeah. (laughs) “Although others have always disagreed.”
KP: Yes. “And I am always willing to be more competent.”
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah, “I am not capable. I’m very willing but incapable.”
KP: “Responds well to most criticism.”
GERVAIS: (laughs) Oh dear! “PS - my anger management classes are going very well.”
KP: Yes, “and you’ll be seeing me shortly.”
GERVAIS: John Hodgman is a very funny, nice man.
KP: And I see that you had many debates. We had a massive two and a half hour argument about what I thought was a vital choice that one should have to make. In fact, I’ll ask you the question if John hasn’t already.
GERVAIS: What’s that?
KP: If you had to choose - you could lose one thing painlessly, and your choice is either a finger or a toe. Which would you choose?
GERVAIS: Yeah, but do I get to choose which finger and which toe?
GERVAIS: Well, it would probably be a little toe on my right foot.
KP: That’s what he went with. I went with the finger because I was more interested in the balance issues.
GERVAIS: Well, I did think of the balance, but I think I use my right big toe a lot more on my right foot than I do on my left. I think I might be right footed and use that right toe a lot more. I’ve got a huge right big toe. It’s twice as big as my left one. In fact, it’s got toes of its own. It’s actually another foot. I’ve got two right feet and one left foot, so it’s nothing to me, that little toe.
KP: Purely for balance.
GERVAIS: Yeah. I swim in circles. Yeah I think so. I asked him what would he rather have - I think this is on YouTube - tiny penises for nipples or breasts for testicles. And he said it’s a no brainer. He said tiny penises for nipples.
KP: I thought his rationale was well thought out. Those breasticles…
KP: You know, he didn’t do the ultimate monkey’s paw and say maybe you could just wish for a small cup size…
KP: He automatically thought they would be double D’s hanging between. He could have specified.
GERVAIS: He asked me also, flight or invisibility.
KP: I think you made the valid point of saying it would have to be powered flight.
GERVAIS: Yeah. That was my fear, was that I’d choose that like in the monkey’s paw and it’s a stitch up and I’m just flying six feet off the ground and people are punching me in the face.
KP: So, if you had to choose salt or sugar for the rest of your life, which would you choose?
GERVAIS: You mean to add to things? Obviously you can’t live without either, but you mean… so I could eat a plate of food…
KP: As the sole additive that you had.
GERVAIS: As the sole additive, no doubt about it, I’d lose sugar.
KP: So salt is a no go for loss for you.
GERVAIS: Yeah, I’d like salt, I think. These are like Maggie questions from Extras. We do this all the time.
KP: But really, these are the questions that define who you are.
GERVAIS: In fact, I think in one episode she says what would you rather eat, too salty or too sweet? I said it doesn’t matter. If it’s too anything it would taste disgusting. She went, “Well, I’d have too salty, because I like crisps.”
KP: Let’s see if you think your way out of this one. So you’re only allowed one food item…
KP: And you have to eat that food item every day.
GERVAIS: Yeah, but you have to define what an item is. Because obviously, you’re not going to break it down to its component food groups. You’re obviously not gonna say a roast dinner. So what is an item?
KP: No, you could say a roast dinner.
GERVAIS: Oh, you can have a meal.
KP: Yes, but what is your meal that you would choose for perpetuity.
KP: But you can’t have anything else. No other variation. It would be that exact same meal for every meal for the rest of your life.
GERVAIS: Well obviously, I mean, surviving and health is very different to what you get sick of. So assuming you’d get sick of everything, I would go for something that would at least bring me health. So a rough estimate I’d probably have to go something like… oh god, it’s difficult. Because you’d need a chicken or fish in there, wouldn’t you. You’d have to have a chicken or fish. Oh god. It would all get bad, wouldn’t it? It would all get really bad.
KP: I’d say after the first week you’d pretty much regret it.
GERVAIS: Yeah, you’re screwed anyway, so you want to get all the groups. Oh, it’s got to be like a meat and two… I mean, the sensible thing to do would be something like a Cobb salad. I think you’re pretty much covered there.
KP: Yeah, but what kind of life are you leading then?
GERVAIS: Well, you started it. Cobb salad. I think you’re annoyed that I’ve come up with the best idea you’ve ever heard. And it shot through your head. You thought, “That’s brilliant.” It’s so much, it’s got everything. Avocados, it’s got chicken, it’s got bacon, it’s got the salad. It’s got every vitamin under the sun there and it’s got an egg. And you’re kicking yourself, and that shot through and you felt slightly stupid and you lashed out. And shame on you.
KP: And now that you called me out, I’m crying right now.
GERVAIS: Yeah. So Cobb salad. There you go.
KP: I chose a pizza with literally everything.
GERVAIS: (laughs) I take back my speech. You win! Why didn’t I think of that? A pizza with literally everything is the best answer I’ve ever heard. A pizza with literally everything!! Oh god.
KP: Now, admittedly, it’s gonna take a while to pick through things each meal.
GERVAIS: Oh god. I’d just have a piece of toast. I’m fine.
KP: But you got a buffet on a crust.
GERVAIS: It’s amazing. That’s amazing. A pizza with literally everything. Yeah. I mean, I’m looking at it now and it’s actually got a can of Coke and a pint of beer. Oh, amazing.
KP: You gotta monkey’s paw through these things.
GERVAIS: But you’d be fat and happy, but I’d be healthy and bored.
KP: It is a remarkable trade off that I probably would have to deal with, wouldn’t I?
GERVAIS: It’s funny, because that is… I am fat and happy. Where I see a lot of other people healthy and bored. (laughs) It’s like, that’s what I chose in life. I chose the pizza with everything.
KP: When was the last time you had a Cobb salad?
GERVAIS: I can tell you exactly when. It was the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles about a month ago.
KP: And prior to that, the last time you were in the Four Seasons Hotel?
GERVAIS: I think it was. I think the last time was when I was in the Four Seasons in Los Angeles. (laughs)
KP: So the Four Seasons is literally the personification of your wish.
GERVAIS: But salad makes sense when it’s 85 degrees and you’re sitting outside.
KP: No it really doesn’t, I wouldn’t think.
GERVAIS: It… yeah. Well, I only had it once. I was there a week and I had it once. I didn’t make a habit of it.
KP: Was it based on a recommendation? Had you had Cobb salad prior…
GERVAIS: No, but I like it because it is a little bit of everything.
KP: So you can feel healthy.
GERVAIS: There’s nothing quite like… I laugh at vegetables. They’ve got nothing. They’re smug and I laugh in their face. I should dismiss the avocado. But when you taste it, it’s like the banana of the vegetable world. It’s tasty, it’s fatty, chewy. There’s a bit of substance to it. And I respect it.
KP: That’s why the early Californians called it the calana.
GERVAIS: What does that mean?
KP: I don’t know, I just made it up.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Okay. Yeah. Oh dear. It’s like the chicken of the tree.
KP: It is literally the chicken of the tree.
GERVAIS: It’s the chicken of the tree. I want…
KP: That’s what avocado means in the native language.
GERVAIS: If the Avocado Society of America need a slogan: “Avocado - It’s the chicken of the tree.”
KP: I want to see the PSA that you do for them.
GERVAIS: I don’t even know if they grow on trees. Do they? I imagine they’re more on bushes, aren’t they?
KP: No, I believe they’re avocado trees.
GERVAIS: Yeah, but you believe some strange things.
KP: And I’m willing to put my complete sincerity behind it in hopes that you’ll go along with it.
GERVAIS: Yeah, but the difference between me and you is you’re gonna look it up afterwards on Wikipedia.
KP: I could look it up right now to make it really awkward.
GERVAIS: Okay, go on then. What is an avocado, as well? I think it must be a fruit. It’s got a seed, it’s got flesh, and it’s got a skin, so it must be a fruit, surely.
KP: Let’s see… avocado. We’ll go to Wikipedia because they’re never wrong.
GERVAIS: Don’t diss Wikipedia. I’ve dissed it before and I felt guilty because they’re a non profit-making organization.
KP: No, they are trees.
GERVAIS: They’re fruit then, aren’t they…
KP: It is a fruit, yes.
GERVAIS: It is a fruit, but I’ll tell you what…
KP: Also known as the butter pear, or the alligator pear.
GERVAIS: Yeah. It may be a fruit, but in a war, it would side with the vegetables.
KP: I would love to see the fruit-vegetable war.
GERVAIS: The tomato would be… well, it would literally go red because it wouldn’t know what to do, but I think they would sort of… The fruit goes, “You’re a fruit…” and it would look over the vegetables and the vegetables go, “Think of everything we’ve been through. Think of it.” And the tomatoes would go, “Okay, we’re gonna fight with the vegetables.” And all the plums and tomatoes would be going, “Fucking tossers. You fucking…” and the avocado would go over there and the fruits wouldn’t even know it’s a fruit. The avocado would go, “Leave him alone, leave him alone!” And the fruit…
KP: You sure they wouldn’t just call them, like, the Vichy fruit?
GERVAIS: Yeah, they’d be caught in the middle, I think. I don’t know. That’s interesting. I really don’t know what would happen there. Maybe you could talk to John Hodgman.
KP: Or would the tomatoes be the ultimate double agent?
GERVAIS: I don’t know, but I feel…
KP: The fruits going, “Listen, you’re the one who can pull it off. You need to go in there as a vegetable and find out what they’re doing.”
GERVAIS: I really think a tomato feels more at home with other vegetables than fruits. I genuinely believe that. There’s no tomato jam; there’s tomato ketchup.
KP: I think there’s no tomato jam because no one had ever tried.
GERVAIS: I know but it wouldn’t… it’s silly. There’s marmalade that’s made of oranges. There’s strawberry jam. You’ve got all the fruit jams you want. And likewise there’s no strawberry ketchup. So let’s be grown up about this. Let’s not look at the biology - let’s look into the heart and ask it, “What are you?” It would say, “I’m a vegetable.” It would look at other vegetables and go, “Listen, I don’t care about who my biological… you’re my real dad.”
KP: But do you ever think about the hurt that might be there? He might be the outcast of the fruit world, going, “I could have the taste really if you just give me…” “No. You do not taste like us.”
GERVAIS: Yeah, I think it’s been kept from him. I think no one has ever… I think it’s a revelation. I don’t think the tomato knows it’s a fruit, really. It’s so vegetable-y. It’s so…
KP: Do you think it’s like the white child raised by Indians?
GERVAIS: Exactly like that. Although we call them Native Americans.
KP: As do we.
KP: You know, really this interview is just a function of you tearing me down now, isn’t it?
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah, but you still are winning. You’re still up because you got ten out of ten for pizza with literally everything.
KP: I appreciate that. It’s how I win all arguments now. I just pull that out.
GERVAIS: Yeah. Have we done anything so far that you can use?
KP: Believe me, this is on par with all of our previous interviews.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Well, then I can only blame you.
KP: I’m completely fine with that. Really, aren’t these the important topics we’re discussing?
GERVAIS: They are. I mean they’re things that…
KP: They’re timeless.
GERVAIS: I was asking Karl Pilkington today… He was getting really stressed…
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah. I was saying, if you’re the last man on a desert island and there’s one orangutan, a female orangutan, and you have kids with it, little kids…
KP: So we’re already pushing past that initial choice…
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah. And I get him hooked in, like, he’s got no choice. And I can see it happening. I can see my slight of hand work when his eyebrows go down and now he’s… ’cause I don’t give him a chance to go, “Definitely not.” He’s already there.
KP: Now he’s a committed family man.
GERVAIS: And I know that I’ve got him there, sitting on the beach. And now he’s, like, fifty, and he’s shaved her arms and done something with her hair, and she’s slimmed down a little bit, and he’s got his three little oranguhumans just sort of running around. They look a bit like him but with shorter legs. And I say, and then the kids grow up and you’re there and you’re in your twilight years and you’re just sitting there holding hands with your wife. I said, would you look back and think it was weird, the first 30 years? You know, “I had houses.” And he thought about it for a while, and he goes, “I wouldn’t do it.” And he’d gone through this whole thing, the whole scenario with me, and then at the end he said he wouldn’t do it. I said, “Is it the sex?” He goes, “Well, yeah, but I wouldn’t…” I said, “Well, what if you can artificially inseminate her?” And he went, “I wouldn’t want to. Forget it.” I go, “Then you’ve got to populate the world.” He goes, “Forget it. If we couldn’t survive, we don’t deserve to survive.” (laughs) Oh god!
KP: I love how he called you out on your slight of hand, though.
GERVAIS: I know.
KP: Which was marvelous. The fact that you pushed right through that initial shock and go, “No, you’ve already got the kids. You’re committed.”
GERVAIS: But the thing is I know that I can hook Karl with a story. I know he’s just like the best person to tell anything to. So I go Karl… and he knows. And I go, “Imagine this…” And I’ve already got him because his brain’s going. It’s in there. I’ve caught him. I’ve trapped him. He’s come into the jam jar.
KP: You’ve already done the “ooh shiny” moment.
GERVAIS: Yeah, exactly. (laughs) “Oh, it’s amazing!”
KP: We were supposed to do an interview with Karl and never heard back.
GERVAIS: Oh, that’s ridiculous.
KP: He’s almost as elusive as Jonathan Ross.
GERVAIS: Oh yeah. He gets enough publicity. Speak to Karl.
KP: Although considering how much money he’s getting from the license payers, maybe I should just call the government and ask for an interview with Jonathan.
GERVAIS: Me and Karl have to earn our money in the free market.
KP: I have noticed over the past year or so Jonathan is making more and more awkward jokes about how much he’s wasting.
GERVAIS: Well, that’s probably to annoy the papers that say he’s not worth it. You get to a point where… that’s why I still say I tend to be arrogant at awards shows, because I like annoying the people it annoys. (laughs) So you get to that position where you think, “Why is my life annoying someone else?”
KP: So you’re saying you’re just going for the Daily Mail readers.
GERVAIS: Well, I’ve named nothing.
KP: I have, though, and you haven’t denied it.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Wow. (laughs)
KP: That was my own cunning trap, Ricky.
GERVAIS: I don’t know that I am going for the Daily Mail reader.
KP: I’m sorry, the ones who go for the coloring.
GERVAIS: I don’t know that…
KP: Because we both know about…
GERVAIS: I don’t think people are that are stupid, anyway. I think people read these things, but I don’t think they’re swayed either way. It’s a weird thing. It’s like… I don’t know.
KP: So who are the people that test you at this point?
GERVAIS: No, what I mean is… yeah, if a journalist says…
KP: You hate Simon Pegg…
GERVAIS: Oh, that was mental, wasn’t it? Because Simon was clearly joking.
KP: I love how they’re so desperate for some kind of feud - because there’s nothing happening in the news right now, by the way.
GERVAIS: Of course. Well, apart from the war and the credit crunch, yeah.
KP: They need to start a feud between you two.
GERVAIS: And Simon sent me a thing saying, “Apparently we’re at war because I called you a fat idiot.” And I sent back, “It’s glandular, you cunt.” (laughs)
KP: He wasn’t buying it though. Are you familiar with The Little Rascals in the UK? The black and white comedies?
GERVAIS: Yeah, I’ve heard of that.
KP: You just brought up glandular. I was doing some research about the film series. And they had, starring in the early versions of the series, these incredibly overweight kids to the point that they looked like they were three and a half foot tall and stuffed in sausage casings. That kind of overweight.
GERVAIS: Where they actually lose their eyes. Where their forehead starts meeting their cheeks.
KP: Yes, where it’s just a gradual descent and enveloping of all sensory organs. And they found out that one of the kids was glandular.
GERVAIS: Apparently it’s about 2% of obesity is glandular. That could be called genetically… basically not their fault.
KP: I think it’s the ones that you see in the papers when they’re two and they’re called, like, “Thunder Baby”.
GERVAIS: Then there’s the ones that we’re getting now, and you see the ones that are really fat, and then you see the parents are really fat, and you wanna go, “Well, yeah, because you’re feeding them what you eat. You’re feeding them too much.” Kids are mammals. They’ll eat what is put in front of them and they crave fat and sugar. You’ve got to control it. It’s killing them with kindness, that’s what they think. It’s terrible. And they’ve started something now - we’ve talked about this on the new podcast - they’re weighing the kids at school and they’re sending a letter to the parents saying “Your child is obese.” And my point is the parents will go, “Yeah, I know - we have to push him out the door to get him to school. We know how fat he is. We have to change his trousers every two months because he eats too much.” Like the parents don’t know when their kid is waddling and sweating from going one room to the other, of course they know he’s obese. But when he goes, “Mom, I want a biscuit.” They go, “Oh, give him a biscuit. It’ll shut him up. Give him a biscuit.” It’s ridiculous.
KP: Well, that’s why they’ve started spray painting them with those scarlet O’s.
GERVAIS: The scarlet what?
GERVAIS: What are they?
KP: O for “Obese”.
GERVAIS: Oh, I see. (laughs)
KP: “Oh, see, the fatty’s got the mark.”
GERVAIS: Although I don’t think you need to spray them. I think you can tell. It’s the ones that block out more light than the other children.
KP: They’ve also installed them with those backing up beepers.
GERVAIS: Yeah exactly. They have other children spinning around them in their orbit.
KP: “Child Reversing.”
GERVAIS: They start appearing on the ordinance survey map.
KP: Yes. “Oh, he’s now a landmark.”
GERVAIS: Yeah - “You can’t move him; he’s a permanent fixture.”
KP: That’s horrible. This is the audience of the future, Ricky, if they make it that far.
GERVAIS: Well, they’re good, fat people, because they can’t move. They can’t even use the remote after a while because their fingers are too fat. So if you’re on the channel their telly is stuck on, they just watch you.
KP: Yes, but imagine if you had the corner on the muumuu market at this point.
GERVAIS: That would be good.
KP: Now the market’s supplying all of these overweight people.
GERVAIS: Well, some of them don’t even bother getting dressed. They just lay in bed.
KP: Just lay in bed?
GERVAIS: Yeah. I’m starting to feel sorry for them now.
KP: They’d change if they could, Ricky. It’s not their fault they wished for the pizza with everything.
GERVAIS: Well, I do this on my standup…
KP: You go down…
GERVAIS: He weighs a thousand pounds, and my point is when he got to 500 pounds, didn’t he start thinking, “That’s a bit much?” That that’s heavy for what is essentially a land mammal? How does it get to that? How do you suddenly start getting 500… I mean, it’s different… by then, something else kicks in, doesn’t it? Something else kicks in.
KP: Sort of a self denial, or…
GERVAIS: I don’t know.
KP: Maybe they live close to a canal.
GERVAIS: Well, maybe some of them who do get to this point already have some sort of genuine mental illness. I don’t know. I don’t know why they don’t… because… Oh, it’s incredible. Some of them literally can’t move. There was this awful program…
KP: You’re going to name one of those wonderful documentaries that air in the UK…
GERVAIS: It was in the UK, yeah. It was called Fat Girls and Feeders. And it’s about these men who find women on the internet and they’re attracted to them, and these women are flattered, and then they feed them until they can’t walk anymore, and that’s their thing. It’s like something from a horror film. I mean, the mentality of the men.
KP: So it’s sort of like Hansel and Gretel?
GERVAIS: It’s weird. And they’re trapped. And they have to be saved by their family, and they just keep feeding them And they want to get them to the point… and what it is, it is a psychological disorder on the male part. They want to get them to the point where they’re totally dependant on them, so it’s a power thing over another human. So they have to wash them and clean them. Empty their bedpan. And it’s really, really strange.
KP: I’m really glad I found out about that.
GERVAIS: See, I brought the tone down.
KP: But now what you’ve done is you’ve rock bottomed it, so now we can only go up.
GERVAIS: Well, sort of. Except I could probably find some more horrific things to talk about. Or find some really horrific things to talk about and then laugh about them so you’re really in a turmoil. You don’t know what to believe anymore. I’ve actually changed your moral compass to a point where you would leave here now and you’d be a different person and you probably would do something quite horrendous.
KP: I’m waiting.
KP: When you throw the gauntlet down you’ve got to follow up on it.
GERVAIS: You can’t use any of this.
KP: Have you read the other interviews that we’ve done with other people? Surely you haven’t.
GERVAIS: Damn, I’m worried now. I was saying this because I thought you couldn’t use it. Now I have to go back and look at what I said..
KP: Trust me. One of the things we enjoy is the fact that at least there’s a conversational aspect to it. Even if, frankly, I’m gonna have sleepless nights over it.
GERVAIS: I think this will have people rushing to watch my standup special. They go, “Well, if he says those sort of things to a learned member of the press, what is he gonna say to a load of people in a room that are drunk?”
KP: Now, who are you saying it to again?
GERVAIS: I don’t know. I’m like one of those people - I’ve lost the will to live now. I just want a Mars bar.
KP: That’s good. We’ll call up Jamie Oliver.
GERVAIS: I’m seeing him tomorrow.
KP: Oh really. Are you now on social terms with him?
KP: Or does he have, like, a weekly barbecue?
GERVAIS: No, he’s a nice bloke. I’ve only met him a few times. He’s coming to a screening of Ghost Town.
KP: Is that what you’re going on Jonathan for this Thursday?
GERVAIS: Exactly, yeah. Yeah, that’s right. Wow. It’s like you’ve got a big telescope.
KP: Well, I keep up on happenings within the UK.
GERVAIS: I know. I was impressed last time when you started saying things from… you shocked me with one that was really obscure.
KP: Well, give me time, I’m sure there’ll be another. Now going back, speaking of the standup, I remember pitching and railing and wondering and questioning and querying you in one of our first interviews, after having seen you UK standup, about why it wasn’t being released to DVD in the US, and you claimed that the humor wouldn’t travel and you were wary about it crossing over…
GERVAIS: No, I did have to… well, there’s two reasons. Obviously, some of it won’t travel. Cultural references won’t travel. You would get references to some of my Big Brother winners and the Goodies and Jonathan Ross, but most people wouldn’t. So I take out all those very specific cultural references. And then anything else goes, really. I don’t take out anything else on concept or taste and decency. And the things that are left are all the universal subjects: Hitler, famine…
KP: Again, it’s a feel good night.
GERVAIS: (laughs) I could have released the videos, but I think 30% of it would be lost. So what I did was…
KP: It certainly would have cut off the bootlegging market.
GERVAIS: … I conflated them, and so it’s like you’ve got the greatest hits. I gave you the greatest hits.
KP: So we’re seeing the Amalgamated Ricky Gervais Stand-Up Special.
GERVAIS: You’re seeing like, oh, um… you’re seeing all three shows with all the bits referencing people you’ve never heard of taken out. And so who’s left? Hitler. Gandhi. Stephen Hawking. And I think when you’ve got those three…
KP: And you’re assuming Americans have heard of at least two of those.
GERVAIS: (laughs) When we have to do the DVD for The Office, we repackaged it for BBC America, and there was a glossary. And I understood the glossary of terms like “wanker” and “bender”. But they put in Shakespeare. And I thought, “Now that is too patronizing.” Because if someone’s getting that DVD and they haven’t heard of William Shakespeare, they are not gonna like The Office. Let me guarantee you that now.
KP: But you’re not looking at the other side. Maybe this was their clever way of getting some poor American to look at that and go, “Who’s this Shakespeare guy?” And that person went to the library they’d never gone to before, found Shakespeare, and went, “You know what? The Office has opened up an entire literary world to me.”
GERVAIS: I still stand by it. If you have heard and seen the British version of The Office, you have definitely heard of William Shakespeare. My Venn diagram would be two complete circles; one engulfed in the other.
KP: It’s not really a Venn diagram at that point, is it?
GERVAIS: And if you know what a Venn diagram is, you’ve seen the English version of The Office and you know who William Shakespeare is. (laughs) That would be another subset.
KP: Yeah, with about 15 or 16 states in the US that exist outside that Venn diagram.
GERVAIS: Yeah, exactly. (laughs)
KP: Now, if it also included, I don’t know, Days Of Our Lives, or some other soap opera…
GERVAIS: Well, yeah. It’s not a perfect system.
KP: It’s not, but you need to fix it, Ricky.
GERVAIS: Yeah. But then again, what sort of weird society is it that goes around giving you one choice of meal for the rest of your life?
KP: A society that realized that choices must be made.
GERVAIS: Death row is the only establishment that gives you one meal for the rest of your life, and it is only one meal.
KP: No, I think by law there’s a requirement of some kind of variety even there.
GERVAIS: Is there? That’s the saddest thing in the world, being given a last meal. I can’t even think about it.
KP: What if you were to ask for a taste of freedom?
GERVAIS: Yeah, exactly. A pizza with literally everything, and that includes a key to the cell. Oh, why is there still death row. Now I’ve brought the tone down again.
KP: You have. I think this is becoming one of the most philosophical interviews you’ve probably ever done.
GERVAIS: Yeah… May I just get serious? Stop capital punishment. There you go. Stop capital punishment. Stop killing people. Stop state condoned violence. It doesn’t do any good.
KP: This is why you’re so good on Comic Relief.
KP: Now I see why you don’t do any in-studio bits.
GERVAIS: Did you see the bit I did last year when I pretended to be in Africa and cry?
KP: Yeah, actually, I showed it to an audience at a film festival a few months back.
GERVAIS: Well, one of the execs at BBC said that when I cried, donations hit the peak of the night. And then when they realized it was a joke, they dropped. So in my own way, I have affected Africa.
KP: Yes. Someone can’t be cured of some kind of very simple disease now.
GERVAIS: Yeah. And that’s my fault.
KP: They lost the ability to buy at least a thousand mosquito nets because of you.
GERVAIS: And if you haven’t heard of The Office, don’t know what a Venn diagram is, and never heard of William Shakespeare, you’ve never heard of Africa, either.
KP: Well, that’s true. I think you need to start a Venn diagram of things that Americans have never heard of.
GERVAIS: (laughs) That’s easy. That’s everything in England. Everything in England except Simon Cowell.
KP: Just one circle that says Americans and one circle that says the world.
GERVAIS: America is the world. Let’s face it.
KP: You gotta think, “All we need is a war there.” Then we’ll know more than we ever want to know about it.
GERVAIS: No, you can’t have a war here. We’re an island. No one travels to have a war in.
KP: Could happen.
GERVAIS: Well, France would have a go. They’re very close. That’s happened before.
KP: Yes. I love the fact that France is waiting on the sidelines going, “Oh, we’re just itching for a fight.”
GERVAIS: Exactly, yeah.
KP: “Give us a moment - you’ll be ours.”
GERVAIS: It’s 22 miles. You can nearly walk it.
KP: For the people there, the wars of the Middle Ages never ended.
GERVAIS: Well, that’s where… oh, you don’t have that sign, do you - putting two fingers up. You have one finger, don’t you?
KP: I know which gesture you’re speaking of.
GERVAIS: You know what it comes from, don’t you?
GERVAIS: Yeah, exactly.
KP: Now we’ve got literally five or six people scrambling who are reading this interview looking to find our what we’re talking about, because we’re not gonna tell them.
GERVAIS: Well, I suppose it sort of makes sense, as well, because Americans are a lot younger. The post bow and arrow era. You’re showing that middle finger that was on the trigger.
KP: Yes - when you’ve had your pointer finger shot off.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah, exactly. I can’t pull a trigger. Well, John Hodgman couldn’t, anyway, because he’s had his fingers removed instead of his toes… Oh no, that’s you, isn’t it?
KP: That was me. He chose toe.
GERVAIS: Yeah, exactly.
KP: See, that’s my own way of making sure that warfare doesn’t perpetuate itself.
GERVAIS: Yeah. People can’t pull the trigger.
KP: But they can run. With a nice, even gait. And that was all I was really looking for in the end.
GERVAIS: Run away. Being able to run away.
KP: That is exactly it. That is what I chose. I don’t want to fight. I don’t need that fighting finger.
GERVAIS: Yeah. You can run away and count your nine fingers.
KP: I’ll still be alive to do so.
GERVAIS: I suppose so.
KP: So, in the end, I think I made the smarter decision. Obviously John, being the warring fellow that he is… as you’ve seen, he’s a very violent man.
GERVAIS: I think he wants to continue playing piano but without the pedal.
KP: The pedal just holds you back.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
KP: That’s because he was born and raised playing just saloon piano.
GERVAIS: I can imagine. John is the man least likely you’d ever see in the saloon. Except he’d be the doc who would go, “I don’t want to get involved. I’m just taking a bullet out. I don’t know anything.”
KP: “Why did I come from the East? Why did I let my wife talk me into this? I had a nice practice in Boston. She said, ‘Yeah, but the land is so cheap…’”
GERVAIS: (laughs) I’d love to see him in a really rough saloon!
KP: Sitting there with his fruity drink.
GERVAIS: Imagine if he got drafted. Imagine John in Saigon in 1972. Just with the same glasses on. Just in all his equipment.
KP: Sitting back, singing a Doors tune to himself.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Oh god!
KP: “This pack is really chafing on me. Can any of you help?”
GERVAIS: “My good man, if you don’t know what chafing is, please look it up. I have a dictionary in my…” (laughs)
KP: “Is anyone up for Scrabble?”
GERVAIS: Poor John! It’s like we’re a couple of bullies! It’s like we’re calling him a little bookworm behind his back. Just because he likes to read books.
KP: He’s rough and tumble. Have you seen the photos of him with his ponytail?
GERVAIS: I don’t want to.
KP: Oh, it’s a completely different John.
GERVAIS: No, I don’t like that at all. I don’t like the idea of that. That’s brought the tone down. That’s brought the tone down worse than having the go at capital punishment.
KP: So you haven’t seen the new book yet?
GERVAIS: No I haven’t, no. I wonder if he used my quote. I’ll be so insulted if he didn’t.
KP: Oh, it’s on the back.
GERVAIS: Oh is it?
KP: It’s rather prominent.
GERVAIS: You know everything. You’re like some sort of weird oracle. Unless you’re part… I think you’re, like, some sort of cyber creature. You’re permanently plugged into Wikipedia.
KP: Yes, I exist within my own matrix.
GERVAIS: Yeah. So have you got anything you can use for the interview yet?
KP: I think so.
GERVAIS: I think these are the highlights. Jesus I’m struggling.
KP: You’re struggling to find highlights?
GERVAIS: Right. I love the fruit vegetable war. That’s got to make it in the top ten. I love the one meal. I was so smug when I thought I did a better answer than you.
KP: I know. I was letting you go with that.
GERVAIS: (laughs) And the more we can insult John Hodgman, I think we’ve got a great interview.
KP: But I will say this. Let me make it clear - he is a wonderful person.
GERVAIS: Well, yeah, but you don’t need to worry about this because you’re in charge of the edit, anyway. So you can just leave out all the nasty things that you’ve said and you probably will.
KP: No no, I tend to leave them in because it preserves the flavor of the awkwardness.
GERVAIS: I quite like the fact that you couldn’t just cheat and say it’s editorial - you had to use it as a quote. You had to say it in this interview for real so you could say it as a quote.
KP: It’s the only way to preserve the integrity of this entire conversation, isn’t it?
GERVAIS: I started off taking this interview quite seriously and now I feel like a fool.
KP: So did I, and so do I.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Oh good. Well good. It’s been a pleasure.
KP: And so the standup, were you happy with the US tour?
GERVAIS: Loved it. Absolutely loved it.
KP: Was there anything that surprised you?
GERVAIS: It was great. I love the Kodak. I did two nights at the Kodak, and then that was my favorite venue in the world. And then I did Madison Square Garden, and that was just as good. I thought they were amazing crowds. In fact, doing America made me really love standup, and I’ve started working… I now work on my standup every day, a little bit, and I never did before. I used to sort of do it in… and now I can’t wait. I go to sleep at night and I wake up, and I’ve got a routine. I think of something new every, every night now. I can’t wait. I get a little adrenaline rush thinking, “This will be my best standup ever.” And it was because of the American dates. They were so smart, they were so on it. They all knew their Shakespeare. They knew what a Venn diagram was. And they’d all seen the English version of The Office.
KP: Now, which cities did you play?
GERVAIS: LA and New York.
KP: Cased closed.
GERVAIS: Well. In fact, on it I say it’s lovely to be doing this American tour. I go, “It’s not a tour. Let’s face it. I messed up and left out the middle bit.” I think that’s in the finished cut.
KP: Have you ever traversed the US via car or other means of transport?
GERVAIS: I haven’t. I’ve only been to LA and New York. No - I’ve been to Boston, obviously. And I think Texas, I went once. But no, it’s…yeah, it’s New York and LA all the way. And I think I’ve spent a lot more time in New York. Well, I know I have. It’s probably 95% of all my time in America has been New York. And when I say New York, I mean Manhattan.
KP: Don’t you have a residence now in New York?
GERVAIS: I do, yeah. So now when I say Manhattan, I mean the Upper East Side.
KP: So not only have you gone to only the elite centers of the US, you now live in the elitist part of the elite center.
GERVAIS: Yeah. It’s funny as well, because I’ve never been interested in politics. I never even watch British politics. But I’ve been following this election more than anything else. Maybe it’s ’cause I’m gonna be there. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent more time in America. Maybe it’s because Obama’s, like, the most charismatic senator in my living memory. But I can’t believe that one of the criticisms of him is that he’s elitist. What they mean is he’s educated. It’s sort of like, imagine not trusting a man because he knows about stuff. (laughs) It’s like the whole of America do to him what we just did to John Hodgman.
KP: Now you’re making me feel bad all over again.
GERVAIS: Yeah. It’s like, “Well, how were we meant to choose our president?” Just a drinking competition?
KP: Rock paper scissors?
GERVAIS: I don’t know what he’s done wrong by being sort of thoughtful and intelligent…
KP: I think you really just give them a wedgie, and whoever doesn’t cry gets to be president.
GERVAIS: Someone asked me what I thought of Sarah Palin the other day, and I said I know one thing about her and I don’t need to know anything else. And that is that she thinks that if you’re raped by even a family member, you should not have an abortion. There is nothing… I don’t need to know any more about her. In fact, I don’t want to know anything. That’s the only thing I ever want to know about her.
KP: And beyond that, in her municipality when she was mayor, she made rape victims pay for their own rape kit.
GERVAIS: Okay. Yeah. But the thing is… it’s like you’ve told me that Hitler cheated at Trivial Pursuit. I’m not going to hate him any more.
KP: Oh no, I’m not saying that that was meant to push you over the edge you’ve so clearly crossed.
GERVAIS: No, that is mental though. That’s proper… that’s mental, because that’s slightly weird because it’s almost like a psychological torture.
KP: Well, that’s like slapping someone and having them say thank you.
GERVAIS: It’s genuinely… Okay, yeah, now I got a little bit of an adrenaline rush there. That is worse. Okay, now I know two things. Jesus Christ.
KP: She’s just insane. Have you seen the video of her being exorcised of witchcraft?
GERVAIS: Oh, for fuck’s sake.
KP: Oh, YouTube is great. You can do a double watch of that and her talent portion of the beauty contest…
GERVAIS: Oh, someone’s put one on today that I saw. “Sarah Palin is like David Brent.”
KP: Oh really?
GERVAIS: Yeah, and she does this thing. They show the thing from The Office and this thing from Sarah Palin, and it’s just like it. It’s like when Brent lies, it’s really good. It’s really funny. I laughed, I laughed. Because I knew what was coming. I knew what they meant before they showed the bit from The Office, and it’s really, really good.
KP: So how does it feel to be a cultural touchstone?
GERVAIS: Well, the other day someone said McCain was like David Brent, so maybe David Brent’s just like everyone.
KP: So he’s an archetype.
GERVAIS: Yeah. Maybe he’s a cliché. Maybe I’m not as clever as I first thought.
KP: Maybe he’s an archiché.
KP: I’m glad that such a simple, stupid joke as combining two words got a laugh out of you.
GERVAIS: (laughs) That’s good. I like that. Unfortunately, I’m gonna have to go now.
KP: Well it’s not the first time I’ve head you say that.
GERVAIS: This is always a pleasure.
KP: And I still say finger and not toe. I should email you the contract… because we made a bet on the finger or toe thing. I was about to do a convention with the people we were debating with, and we made a public bet about who would be the winner and who would have more people choosing finger or toe.
GERVAIS: People are always gonna choose the toe.
KP: You know, and I don’t get it.
GERVAIS: People are always gonna choose the toe. Same as anything to do with eyes. Nothing’s gonna be eyes. I think they’d lose both hands before they lost both eyes. People want to see. People want to be out there and people want to…
KP: Why don’t people want to have good balance? And a steady gait?
GERVAIS: (laughs) I love this new campaign.
KP: And here’s the thing; we actually were so bad in our argument we pulled in the table next to us at the bar we were arguing at. And this lovely couple who were having dinner, going, “You know, we couldn’t help overhearing - what the hell are you arguing about?” So we let them in, and the woman goes, “Well, I’d pick finger.” “Why would you pick finger?” “Well, I’m a runner.” That made sense. That person’s a runner.
GERVAIS: That’s true.
KP: Her boyfriend, at that point, then picked toe. And we proceeded over the next 40 minutes…
GERVAIS: Because he’s a pianist.
KP: Well, we proceeded to destroy their relationship as they began arguing about it.
KP: And eventually left the pub ticked off at each other about the choices they had made.
GERVAIS: That’s amazing.
KP: I’m just saying - John and I bring people together.
KP: And tear them apart.
GERVAIS: It’s like the opposite of the Nobel Peace Prize.
KP: It is the Hodgman-Plume Peace Prize.
GERVAIS: And say hello to John for me.
KP: I will do so. His book comes out next week.
KP: Then he starts on his book tour.
GERVAIS: If it does better than the last one, it’s mainly due to my quote.
KP: That should be your quote on the third one.
GERVAIS: On the third one, yeah.
KP: “I would like to claim all responsibility for any sale that he might have gotten.”
GERVAIS: I think it should be all my quotes and just him on the back saying, “This is a book of Ricky Gervais’ quotes.”
KP: I don’t know why you don’t market that.
GERVAIS: (laughs) Yeah. I suppose that’s sort of what writing a book is, isn’t it? A book full of your quotes.
KP: Here’s something that aggravated me. There’s an author named Sarah Vowell in the US who does these wonderful books exploring history. Very much like what John does, but she does it for history and it’s actually true. I was reading the reviews of her new book on Amazon, and one of the criticisms was “It’s too wordy.”
KP: I mean, by it’s very definition, shouldn’t a book be wordy?
GERVAIS: That’s really good.
KP: Otherwise it’s just blank pages!
GERVAIS: Yeah. I think Leonardo DaVinci had a similar criticism where there was “too many pictures.”
KP: “You’re too thinky.”
GERVAIS: Yeah, “too thinky.” (laughs) That’s good. I like that. “John Hodgman’s too thinky.”
KP: Well, it’s been a pleasure yet again. We’ll have to make this like a yearly thing.
GERVAIS: It’s a deal.
KP: Yeah, I’ve heard that before.
GERVAIS: (laughs) No, definitely.
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