The Ricky Gervais Show – kicking Ducks where the sun don’t shine

The Ricky Gervais Show Title PagePsstt!? Do you want to listen in to a pub-chat? If yes, then bring your own beers and settle down to The Ricky Gervais Show.

The Ricky Gervais Show was initially made for radio, broadcast on XFM, before later making the switch to TV, being commissioned by and broadcast on HBO, and shortly after on British Television courtesy of Channel 4. It is currently re-airing on E4.

It is one of those shows like Seinfeld and Father Ted I could watch on an infinite loop or as easily dip in and out of containing as it does so many standalone comedy gems.

The title is perhaps now a misnomer. The original radio show featured Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant with little broadcast input from Karl Pilkington, its show producer. But over the years his input has increased and now is pivotal and the show could just as well be called the Karl Pilkington Show – if almost certainly not having the same ratings-pulling power.

In any case the show works because of the sum of the Gervais Merchant and Pilkington parts, not due to any one of them left alone.

The Ricky Gervais Show Studio CartoonEach show begins with the three of them sitting in a studio behind a desk as Ricky Gervais introduces all of them to us as we watch each morph into cartoon caricatures of themselves.

And better prepared as cartoon forms to inhabit the surreal fantasy world of their rambling imaginations.

Merchant and Pilkington are captured pretty faithfully if Gervais not quite his spit as having the distinct style and look of Fred Flintstone  – whenever we are shown his wife she too as the uncanny resemblance of Fred’s wife Wilma – I have not seen Ricky Gervais’ wife but I am betting she does not look very much like Wilma Flintstone! The cartoon-style of the entire show is in the spirit of Hanna Barbara if with an audience of adults in mind.

Three people in a studio is a cheap idea for a TV program and just shows you don’t need millions of dollars or even thousands of them to make engaging telly.

The Ricky Gervais Show - bar sceneAs previously suggested The Ricky Gervais Show is like listening into a bar-room conversation – but being teetotal is not a prohibition to appreciating it and certainly you don’t need to be dirty drunk to get the best from it either though a beer or two may better ready your spirits for it.

The subjects are often random and rambling, sometimes making a point, other times pointless, and the pointless subjects being none the poorer for having little purpose.

There is much laughter in the Ricky Gervais Show despite no studio audience present or canned laughter on tap, rather Gervais and Merchant, and Gervais in particular, are often unable to contain their mirth and sometimes even reduced to tears by the statements of Pilkington.

The last episode I dipped into was the Future episode from Series 2 which re-aired Sunday November 6.

Future as you might imagine was their musings and Karl Pilkington’s in particular of how the future might look, in particular the not-too-distant future, toward this century’s end. And their predictions for how the 21st Century might pan out were never going to be as high-minded and rigorously researched as those pondered in the current Channel 4’s science series Brave New World with Stephen Hawking.

The Ricky Gervais Show - Future episodeThe first of which was read out by Gervais from an academic study speculating what the world might be like in 75 years time and considering that androgyny could have become a common-place. And this being the Ricky Gervais show and in particular this being Karl Pilkington this topic is not taken up but completely digressed with him retorting that ‘this isn’t what I’ve heard (!)…I’ve heard that we’re all going to go ugly’! And this because ugliness will need to act as a form of population control – ‘we won’t want to do it with each other as much!’.

The Ricky Gervais Show - Karl GoogledPilkington then continues on how we have changed physically over time and how this will likely develop with parts of our body becoming like our appendix, redundant! Giving as an example our little fingers ‘who don’t do much compared with our other fingers’ and this being the boozy logic of a pub another body part is not offered up as a redundant example but the chat changes track with Merchant then suggesting that in the future we will become ever more integrated with technology (which does actually mirror a prediction in the first episode of Brave New World regarding remote mind control but I digress!) giving the example of a chip in our head to allow us to access the world wide web directly, or more specifically the human mind home page Google!

This then leads Pilkington to make the metaphysical point of whether we will any longer be us  – where would we end and Google begin…but we did not linger on this sobering thought long instead moving on to BBC Quiz Show University Challenge and how Pilkington in awe of how much knowledge these Degree students have and how in order to try and get at least one question correct he answers ‘Egg’ for each! And that rather than even trying to answer the questions asked by quizmaster Jeremy Paxman he instead tries to predict which of the university students will answer the next question correctly! As said this is the conversational logic flow of alcohol accept they are in a studio with tea or coffee the only liquid available!

The Ricky Gervais Show - Evolution of PantsNext up is Satellite Navigation and how poorer our lives will be now we can never got lost on our travels! Pilkington asking whether Columbus would have found America if he had had access to GPS, based on the reasoning that ‘he only found it because he got lost’!

The show then moves onto Pilkington being asked to make some predictions for the future. As this was Pilkington I knew only to expect anything – and I was not disappointed. The screen-shot at the foot of this post lists his entire ‘Top Five’ and I will merely focus on three of his fevered imaginings.

HIs first one was that trousers would stop being made! His rationale being that ‘kids today are wearing trousers ever closer to around their their ankles’! So naturally we will come to a time when we just won’t bother wearing them anymore.

His second prediction was that we are all going to get (physically) weaker. The basis for this being that ‘they used to say an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ but now we are recommended five fruits per day. This is an observation that may not resonate outside of the United Kingdom!

His final conjecture was that there will be more letters in the alphabet. This because we are running out of words (!), then citing ‘Bozwellox’ (and no this word is not made up but a recent addition to Shampoo!) as an example of desperation for a plausible sounding new word.

Finally Merchant asked Pilkington what he would do if he discovered this was the final day on earth, not just for him but the whole of humankind. Merchant himself first reflected that he may smash up a bar and darkly that  he might even murder a person as there would be no repercussions and it would be both his and the victim’s final day on earth. Gervais commented that he would still be depriving that person’s final eight or so hours on earth before looking to Pilkington for what he would do. Pilkington pauses.

‘I’ve always wanted to kick a duck up its arse’!The Ricky Gervais Show The Future