Ricky Gervais the Golden Boy
Emmy Award winning actor, and comedian, Ricky Gervais has crossed the pond to dominate and aggravate the Americans with his raw and untamed humor. Gervais returns to host “The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards” and vows this is his last.
At last year’s award show, Ricky took swipes at everyone from Mel Gibson to Sir Paul McCartney. In a recent interview, there was no mention as to who would be his target for the upcoming awards show. However, he talked about his favorite comedians, the Golden Globes and the Office.
“The 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards” on Sunday, January 16, 2011 on NBC. This year’s show will again be broadcast live coast-to-coast from 5-8 p.m. (PT) and 8-11 p.m. (ET) from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Don’t be late for the Golden Globes:
Ricky Gervais: I mean the Golden Globes are going to run like clockwork, I’ll tell you. We’re going to start at 5 o’clock whether people are ready or not, okay. So in fact I’ve bought all the Hollywood foreign press a watch this year so they can’t be late.
How did you feel things went last year hosting the Globes? Were there things you learned from that that you’ll apply this year?
Ricky Gervais: That’s why I’m doing it again. I had such a great time but like anything you do for the first time you go, “Oh, let me do it again. I can do it better. I can do it better.” Do you know what I mean? It’s like the first time I had a go at golf I wanted to go around again because I said, “No, I can do it now. I can do it now.” So, yes, I want to give it one more go.
I think it went well. I really enjoyed myself. I think I pitched it about right but as I said I think I can go a little bit further. I don’t know I just think I can really go out and really throw away the shackles of worry. I mean I don’t mean I’m going to go out and again get drunk and, you know, have absolutely no planning or input. But I think I can certainly have more fun with it and I think I can have more fun with the room as well.
I also sort of gave myself this weird restriction that I wrote it like a few days before in about an hour all my – all the lines, right. And if you noticed, that all the lines are about the people that are about to come out. And I’ve realized I can reference anyone in the room. I can look down and just go, right; I can go for anyone here. So I probably made it a little bit harder for myself than I could have.
So I’m going to have even more fun with it, probably go a bit further, push the boundaries a little bit more. I think you always should. And I, you know, what’s the worst that could happen? I didn’t expect to be invited back a second time and I certainly – and I won’t do it a third. So I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve got nothing to lose. So, yes, I’m going to go for it.
Ricky Gervais: Well I don’t know. I suppose you always – I’ve carried the same sensibilities with me all my life. But you evolve. I suppose I deal with trying to say something challenging and interesting. You know, I think a comedian’s job isn’t just to make people laugh, it’s to make them think. I’m not a lever of broad anodyne comedy. You know, I don’t see just going out there and saying things the audience could think themselves and often have, there’s a place for that.
But I also feel a responsibility, you know, I’m playing venues where people come out and there are tens of thousands and they’ve traveled a long way and they’ve got a babysitter and they’ve found a car parking space and paid $70 or whatever and I think that I better have something special to say. So I always try and be different. As I say I always try to be quite challenging. I mean I want people to laugh and I want to gasp as well. I get as big a buzz from gasp as I do a belly laugh. But I think I do stuff that I’m proud of as well.
And there’s six billion people in the world. So if you do something for you that’s a nice single vision and not like anything else, there’s enough people to go, “That was great. I haven’t seen that before.” That’s, you know, I think I want to people’s favorite comedian as opposed to in a mob. I wanted The Office to people’s favorite sitcom as opposed to, you know, watched by loads of people and their tenth favorite.
So you always feel that, you know, I think that’s true of all art that originality is the most important thing and I think that makes – that will find a connection. The point of art is to make a connection with someone else, another human being that you may never meet or whatever, but I think the size of that connection with the individual is important. And I think you do that by being true to yourself. And if you’re true to yourself you are different to everyone else and I think you won’t be homogenized and watered down and, you know, like ten other acts.
So and I did – I suppose I did have a revelation this time around that I did sort of think this is a privilege. I mean with stand-up it was the fourth or fifth thing I did. You know, I mean in my list of things that I consider myself, a stand-up was probably fourth, you know, and now I think it’s great. I love the fact that it’s outside the novel or something, it’s the last bastion of self-censorship. You know, what a privilege to be able to say anything you want to hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people.
So that’s how I approached it. And now I can’t wait for my next stand-up because I can go, “No, I know where I went wrong there. I can be even better this time.” And I think you should. It’s like, you know, every day I become conscious for the first time. I know how to improve. I know what excites me now. Every day is a new day and you want to improve. It’s like, you know, you can rub out the blackboard and start again. I mean those things still exist, right, but you can say, “Right, today I ‘m going to do my best work ever from now on.” And I say that every day.
It’s also the sequel to the animation as well which starts on the 14th of January. So yes, second Globes, second special and second – and I think I’m better second time around. I genuinely think that. I do. And I think me and Stephen write things that are on their second viewing and we write them with that in mind and we were very conscious of that with The Office.
We were putting in jokes that we thought people wouldn’t even see the first time around but we said, “You know what, someone will see them the fifth time they watch it.” And what a compliment people have listened to the podcasts five times or watched The Office five times or, you know, so, yes, it should be a good year. The year of the sequel.
You mentioned that you enjoy getting a gasp as a reaction from your audience. Do you genuinely think people get your jokes?
Ricky Gervais: Because I think comedy and drama are different branches of the same tree. You know, it doesn’t matter whether you’re watching a horror film or hearing a joke, it’s the surprise that’s the good bit. It’s the bit you didn’t expect. And as I said, I don’t consider myself just a comedian. People watch things I do and they go, “That wasn’t very funny.” And I want to go, “No, it wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t meant to be.” Some of my favorite things, they’re not belly laughs. They’re just watching with a warm feeling. You know, I – you know, The Office wasn’t just a comedy, it wasn’t (knock) about comedy. We purposely – we took out some jokes. We took out some big events. We took out some great plotlines because it interfered with the reality or it interfered with the romance or it interfered with the existential mood of the piece.
You know, you’ve got to take the whole package and something you put in takes away something else, something that you take away makes something stronger. And so it’s my choices that count as a writer and a director. No one else’s. So it’s all or nothing. People can’t cherry-pick. They’re not allowed to cherry-pick, not in art, you know. You can do that with a menu but you can’t do it in art. You take it all. And if people say, “Oh, I wish you’d done this.” I say, “Well you make it yourself. You do your own show. You do your own show and you can have it exactly as you want it because that’s how my shows turn out, exactly as I want them.” And when I’m – of course I know that gasp is coming and but it’s there for a reason. It makes a point. And comedy is a release. Let’s not forget that. Comedy is a release. That’s why we do it because it’s obviously it’s the industry built out of humor and the reason we have humor is to get through. You know, the reason we have humor in our evolution is to get us through adversity.
And it’s no coincidence that some of the most depressed people have the best sense of humor and create the best comedy. And I say it in the special we use it as a sword and a shield and as a medicine and all these reasons. And I love taking people on an emotional journey and it doesn’t matter if it’s a film, a TV show or a piece of stand-up. It’s to take people on a journey they hadn’t been on before. And that’s important. And I want it to resonate as well. You can see a stand-up and he does a thousand brilliant puns, great. You’ll laugh for an hour. You’ll be looking at your watch after about half an hour and you won’t remember one of them. But if someone comes out there and he tells you a story, someone shambles out on stage and tells you a story then there’s nothing can compete with that.
Whatever happens with innovation in entertainment, you know, there’s going to be something that makes Avatar look like Steamboat Willy one day. But I’ll tell you, whatever that is, it will never compete with one human being telling another human being what an awful day they’ve had. It won’t.
How surprised were you and how quickly afterwards did they invite you back?
Ricky Gervais: Well the strange thing was they said they, you know, during the show, “Great. We’d love you to do it again.” And I went, “Well let’s see. It’s not over yet.” And so yes, they invited me back on the way they thought it went and my performance which is nice and very flattering and the way it should be but then I saw I think the ratings went up about 18% or something so I thought it was on the cards. But yes, and I wasn’t going to do it again but then I thought, “Oh no, I could improve.” That’s what I really thought. And there’s something in me that really it’s exciting. I like the jeopardy. I like the jeopardy. It’s live and there’s a quarter of a billion people watching and a room full of the most powerful people in the world. I like that jeopardy. I love it. So that’s my extreme sport. That’s what gives me an adrenaline rush, thinking it could be the end of my career.
Why will you not host the Golden Globes in 2012, if asked?
Ricky Gervais: Well the truth is I’m not a host. I’m not a presenter. I don’t think I should be doing it at all. I do these things for fun. I don’t even count these things as part of my career really. Well there’s loads of things I do that I don’t count as part of my career, you know. I think the things that I’m – I think are more time lesson that I portray is in the beginning. I’d have had to invented the concept of award ceremonies to be as excited about them as I am about doing The Office or Extras or, you know, whatever. But I suppose I want this to be great and go out on a high. I think you’ve always got to think that you’re going to do a good job and it’s going to be fun and – because you’re in control. And if you’re in control and it turns out exactly as you wanted it to, then you’ve got no one else to please really and I always try and – I want to do things that I’m pleased with. And so if I’m bad, I shouldn’t do it again; and if I’m good, I shouldn’t do it again. So that’s the thinking really.
I was tempted to do a third season of The Office. But hopefully I’m going to leave it just right and that’s my plan.
What comedians do you enjoy?
Ricky Gervais: Oh, I can give you a list. The best – the most exciting stand-up in the world at that moment is Louis C.K. The bravest most honest comedian out there. He made me look at myself harder. I want to tap into that. Lack of fear. He’s got no fear, man. Chris Rock, just incredible. Jerry Seinfeld, you know, the master. And I should say I just did a – I did a special – this is the perk of being famous, okay, there’s not many actually. But this is one of them. I just did a special, myself, Louis C.K., Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock. We sat in a room for 4-1/2 hours and I’m just editing it down now to an hour for a special and we just talked about comedy. We talked about what we hate, what we love, how we approached it, our first bit we ever did, why we wanted to be a comedian.
And I think it will fascinating for anyone in comedy but it’s not in, it’s not really an exclusive club and it’s nice to just – it was great. I mean it was a great experience and I think it will be interesting to watch because it’s never been done before quite like that. So I’d have to site those three straightaway.
So, yes. That’s stand-up though, you know. Larry David I think along with Seinfeld has created some of the best TV comedy. Mitch Hurwitz and, you know, I love Arrested Development. Yes. Christopher Guest has never let me down. A God amongst comedians I think.