When the funniest man in England took over Madison Square Garden earlier this month, HBO was on hand to tape the concert. In November, Ricky Gervais, original star and co-creator of The Office, will trot out his first televised stab at stand-up comedy.
At a Thursday press tour session organized by the Television Critics Association, Gervais told reporters that he assumes the persona of a “brash, ignorant, right-wing character” in the comedy special.
“I don’t really do gags,” he said. “It’s quite anecdotal and more about flights of fancy. I want to keep doing stand-up because I’m just starting to get good at it and I like the romance of it. It’s the last bastion of no censorship.”
In a sneak preview, Gervais struts onstage wearing a crown and red cape, then mocks obesity as an illness, bemoans the unfairness of defining Captain Hook by his disability and challenges the audience: “What are you going to do next, call Stephen Hawking ‘Dr. Chair’?”
Asked about his influences, Gervais said: “They’re all Americans, going back to Laurel and Hardy 100 years ago. They understood that you have to create empathy. I don’t care if you have the best lines in the world, you have to like the guy. Adolph Hitler had some good lines. Never liked him.”
Gervais said he’s not particularly surprised that the American version of The Office has flourished. Downplaying differences between Yankee and English humor, Gervais noted, “I suppose you could say that British like the underdog more. You guys like winners.”