Monday Miscellany – Make ’em laugh Make ’em laugh Make ’em laugh: as long as Ricky Gervais is okay with it

I think being on holiday really fucks with my blogging schedule because I have nothing to moan about. When I’m not weary and emotionally destroyed by work then I realise I have nothing to bitch about. This tells me nothing more than that my mission to get another job is something I should definitely be devoting my time to. Maybe being more fulfilled in my professional life I might actually stop being such a moany bitch here. Still, what would I talk about if that was the case? Look at me now. I’ve had this window open for fucking ages and I still haven’t got further than this rambling introduction. I hate feeling uninspired when a deadline is upon me. It leads to rather ridiculous and stupid things. So we can pretty much just accept that this is going to be a load of shit.

Today I read an article in which Ricky Gervais is quoted as saying that most comedies these days are “gross out, lowest common denominator” because they produced by so many different voices. Speaking about his upcoming Netflix film Special Correspondent, Gervais claimed that the website will enable the auteur the chance to shine. It’s not that I think he’s wrong; if we’ve seen anything with the rise of Netflix’s original programming and films it’s that they’re really fucking good. The problem I have is that Gervais thinks it’s okay for him to put himself in the position of judge, jury and executioner for all comedic outputs.

Let’s be honest, Gervais is not an unfunny man. He’s been responsible for some of the greatest television the BBC and Channel 4 have ever produced. The Office will go down in comedy history and for good reason. It changed things and is a source that people have and will continue to copy for their own gain. Then there’s Extras which, thanks to the Patrick Stewart episode, I will always be thankful for. Derek, despite all of the controversy, was a genuinely funny and lovely programme. These shows all proe that Gervais can write funny stuff whilst still making you give a shit about the characters. Even Life’s Too Short, which was patchy, had some incredibly funny moments. I mean if nothing else, Gervais showed the world that Liam Neeson is not just fucking intimidating and wonderful but also incredibly funny. So, yeah, there’s lots of evidence that Gervais knows what he’s talking about.

However, there’s just as much out there that suggests he just as shit as the “homogenised” and “safe” comedies that he’s bemoaning. Has he forgotten the shitty The Invention of Lying and the underwhelming but fine Cemetery Junction? Is he handily forgetting the fact that he starred in “comedies” like Ghost Town, two Night at the Museum sequels, Escape From Planet Earth and Spy Kids: All the Time in the World. I realise that his argument was about creating a film from scratch but if he cared that much about the standards of Hollywood comedies then he surely wouldn’t lower himself to appear in anything sub-par just because the money was right?

Ricky Gervais has, for some time, appointed himself as the true king of comedy because he has had a few successes. These successes have clearly gone to his head and he thinks he’s untouchable. You can see it in that smirk he always has when he’s in something he thinks he’s better than (see my Muppets 2 review). The problem is, he no longer thinks he has to question himself. Even in terms of Special Correspondent and the teaser trailer, Gervais doesn’t come across as the funniest person there. I realise he’s a secondary character and the trailer has been edited to focus on Eric Bana but in the old days Gervais would come across stronger.

There’s something kind of desperate about the release of the upcoming The Office spin-off Life On The Road. I mean why was there need to resurrect the character when he was given such a great send off years ago? It’s like the increasingly cringey cameos Gervais made on the American version of The Office. It just wasn’t needed except to remind everyone that Gervais had once created a character that was beloved, funny and original. Now he’s just doing the same thing over and over. In a similar way to Alpha Papa not being able to recreate the joy of Alan Partridge in the early days, Life on the Road will only remind us how good David Brent was in the beginning. However, people will watch the film. If that’s not the same kind of ploy that Gervais was discussing then I don’t know what is.

Gervais has made a name for himself by saying controversial things and using topics that were bound to polarise people. I don’t mind this. Nobody will ever agree and there are plenty of times I’ve stated an opinion and highly offended people. It’s not going to stop me being honest so why should he. What I find ridiculous is the idea that Gervais can happily criticise people for creating comedies that aren’t his cup of tea whilst he himself has been responsible, at least in part, for some of those films. Not everything is going to be great: that’s just fact. Money is what drives people at the end of day and if a studio thinks they’ll get more money for a mindless comedy then that’s what we’ll see. If it weren’t for the idea of sure-fire hits, I wonder how many of Gervais’ films would have been produced?

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