“If you’ve come here to revise for your thesis, you’re f*cked.” Meet Ricky Gervais.
Ricky Gervais is a man of many, many talents. BAFTAs, Golden Globes, The Office, the introduction of Karl Pilkington to the world at large, Extras, Flanimals… suffice to say, he’s not been a lazy comedian.
Science is the latest in his list of four stand-up acts, and from the offset you know it’s going to be just as funny, smart and fascinatingly insightful as the last ones were. Even if you’ve only seen one, or none, it’s hard not to find his self-deprecating sense of humour endearing. He’s open and frank about everything, from his childhood, to the size of his member, to a serious crime he once committed. Though with him, it’s hard to tell fact from fiction, something he relies on in building the audience up and knocking them down repeatedly over the 80 minute-odd running time.
He tackles a variety of issues, and each seems to flow into the next without a single moment’s hesitation or a rather tangential sentence connecting the two. He once again returns to the issue of fat people and political correctness, something he feels passionate about – you may think Frankie Boyle steps over the line more than anyone else, but you’d be wrong. The difference between the two is Frankie’s comedy tends to rely on the fact he’s being taboo, whereas Ricky’s telling jokes and doesn’t care who it offends.
No one is safe from his barrage of criticism, and it’s interesting to see him openly admit to the amount of cash he can spend or discuss his distaste for autograph hunters. Clearly, he’s a funny man and an entertainer, but like every other level-headed celebrity he wants the spotlight to switch off when he goes off-stage. Sadly, it never does, and his increasing fame makes for some amusing situations when he’s constantly accosted by people wanting him to sign endless piles of his own material.
Delving back into Biblical issues again (always a favourite – his dissection of Genesis in Animals was nothing short of legendary), he talks about Noah and the concept of evolution, the 5 million species of animals and the illogical nature of religion. He’s never offensive with his views – bear in mind he spent a significant amount of time as a God-fearing child – but he’s unrelenting in his placement of science above all else.
It’s also interesting to hear an extended version of the brief bits of intelligence and wit we hear in between Karl Pilkington‘s endless verbalised idiocy. Gervais is by no means a stupid man – he’s extremely intelligent, very knowledgeable and is able to back up any point, however controversial it may seem, with a lot of evidence and theories that support his views.
He may not see Science as educational, but it’s hard not to walk away feeling slightly enlightened, although the joke he tells in his encore (c’mon, an encore in stand-up is hardly a spoiler) is likely to ruffle the most relaxed of feathers and reminds you that for all his charm, wit and intellect, he’s still Ricky Gervais, the man responsible for David Brent and his infamous dance.
There’s also a few special features to be had – a wonderful half-hour chat with Karl himself, a bit on New York, and the day Karl met Warwick Davis. That last one has to be seen to be believed. It really is incredible, and hysterically funny.
He’s disturbed, sick, depraved, arrogant, prejudiced, hateful, selfish, and an utter genius when it comes to turning all of that into appealing comedy that will have you bent double with laughter from start to finish. A triumph for the man, and one people will love seeing him improve upon in the many, many coming years of his career.