A Dozen Questions for Ricky Gervais
Guest blogger Paul Williams is a producer at washingtonpost.com.
While Ricky Gervais is best known in the U.S. as the creative force behind BBC's "The Office," and HBO's "Extras," he's also responsible for "The Ricky Gervais Show" series of podcasts -- a cult hit that helped to put podcasting on the map. Gervais teamed with writing partner Stephen Merchant and producer Karl Pilkington for five seasons, largely made up of the pair mocking Pilkington for his outlandish and bizarre theories. And the round baldness of his head.
Last week, we solicited readers' questions about the podcast, his shows, career and more, then sent a dozen to Gervais. His answers are below.
Washington, D.C.: Would you ever want to host the Oscars?
Ricky Gervais: I don't think so. Although I will be there in spirit this year as I'm helping the great Hugh Jackman out with some gags for the script. He called me out of the blue and we've brainstormed a few times on the phone.
He is a really nice guy and was recently voted sexiest man alive. (I don't think the chart went down far enough for me to appear). I feel like Cyrano De Bergerac. I think he'll be a great host.
McLean, Va.: Is Karl Pilkington really real, or is he just a character (or a person who's slow-wittedness is enhanced for humor)?
Ricky Gervais: Karl is definitely a real person. If he is acting, he keeps it up 24/7.
Having said that he is not a completely useless fool. He is a good dancer and cartoonist. He has also recently discovered a knack for home improvement.
There was a recent Internet conspiracy theory that Karl was an actor called Graham who merely reads from a script written by Steve and I. Karl wasn't annoyed at being accused of having no thoughts of his own, but what he hated was the fact that someone would think his name was Graham.
More after the jump...
Chicago: I love the podcasts, but fear that any significant attempt to bring Karl Pilkington out from behind the mic will have an ultimately sad Harvey Pekar-on-David Letterman effect. Where do you stand on Karl's overexposure?
Ricky Gervais:The reason I want Karl to become world-famous is because I know he will hate every minute of it. I dream of the day he will have to run home from the supermarket with people shouting his name and slapping his completely round bald head.
McLean, Va.: Do you have any career suggestions for ex-President George W. Bush?
Ricky Gervais: I'd like to see him do spectacular music and comedy evenings in Las Vegas. He'd do a few big production classics, "Copa Cobana," "Viva Las Vegas," tell a few stories, bring on some guests for a bit of banter ... it would be amazing.
Alexandria, Va.: In a Swiss Army Knife fight, who would win...Dwight Schrute or Gareth Keenan?
Ricky Gervais: I think Dwight has a weight advantage. This is mainly due to the fact that he is played by a huge lumbering monster called Raine Wilson and Garreth is played by weird baby bird-type creature called McKenzie Crook.
London: Can you explain why Stephen Merchant became a friend who is an important part of your initial success with "The Office," and not one of your friends whose head you squeeze?
Ricky Gervais: Well, 1. his head is harder to reach, as Karl explains in this clip and 2. I think I realized early on he wouldn't appreciate such behaviour. He was a very sensible young man when I met him. Some would say square. He won't even try crack.
London: A recent entry in your blog suggests that you wouldn't want to be stuck in an elevator with one of your fans. What is the worst thing a fan has said or done around you?
Ricky Gervais: My fans are great but I do like to insult them on my blog for a laugh. The worse thing one has done was shout "do the dance" at the Live 8 Concert. At first I refused but you'd be surprised how persuasive 250,000 people can be.
Atlanta: How does your strong belief in science, as opposed to organized religion, shape your great body of work?
Ricky Gervais: It crops up quite a bit in my stand-up shows. Here's a clip from "Animals" in which i deconstruct The Old Testament.
Also my new live show, which is still a work-in-progress, will be called "Science."
Newport News, Va.: "The Office" and "Extras" were so wonderful. Can we expect a new series from you and Mr. Merchant?
Ricky Gervais: The next Gervais/Merchant project is a movie we are shooting in the summer, but we are also writing the spin-off TV series. We're doing it the "MASH" way round.
We are also working on a project to animate the audiobooks for U.S. TV.
New Haven, Conn.: Do you think that the people who take a business-like approach to the arts, like publishers or movie producers, have had more of a positive or negative effect on the arts?
Ricky Gervais: Definitely negative. In my short career I have learned that the film industry cares about one thing, and one thing only...money. They all talk a good talk. They may even convince you that they're different.
You can't change that, so you have to avoid it or get final edit.
Seattle: Ricky, Have you considered these parallels: Spongebob/Ricky -- optimistic and cheeky; Patrick/Karl -- bald, pink and stupid; Squidward/Steve -- annoyed fan of the arts.
Ricky Gervais: I have never thought of that before. But now you mention it, it fits perfectly. I particularly like the fact that I come out the best in this comparison.
Monkey thumper: Is there anything that makes Karl happy? You have touched on this before in your podcasts, that the best it seems to get for him is "it's a'right." But surely something must make him happy...no? Somewhat related to this, what is Suzanne like? What's in this relationship for her?
Ricky Gervais: Karl is happiest when he's moaning about something. Luckily there is always something for him to moan about. We discuss happiness quite a bit on "The Ricky Gervais Guide to ... Philosophy" (out March 17th). At one point we offer Karl the chance to design his perfect life. He basically chooses the life he has now but with a boiler that never breaks down and where if he asks me to stop squeezing is head I do so immediately.
His girlfriend Suzanne is smart, optimistic, and normal. Yeah, weird i'n'it?
| February 20, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
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