Ricky Gervais: 7 Things American Audiences Should Know

The British comedian has won more American awards for his comedies than most people in the industry. His original “The Office” series, which inspired the Steve Carell version (which he also produced), is an international hit and beat out some serious competition to win the Golden Globe in America before the NBC version was even a glimmer. He and co-creator Stephen Merchant then followed it up with another award-winning BBC comedy, “Extras,” which was shown in America on HBO. These are the things you know about Ricky Gervais. You probably have also seen him in bit roles in A Night at the Museum, Stardust, and Christopher Guest’s For Your Consideration. His movie coming out this week is Ghost Town.

But Ricky Gervais is more than just a writer-actor-comedian about to make it to super-stardom in America. He’s a comedic genius whose talents have only been seen by those lucky enough to get “The Office” on DVD and catch “Extras” and his many appearances on “The David Letterman Show” and “The Daily Show.” To get you caught up on all things Gervais, we decided to share with you seven things you may not know about the eclectic comedian.

1. His podcast is an international success – “The Ricky Gervais Show” draws millions of listeners from across the world to hear the ramblings of Gervais, Merchant, and the other-worldly figure Karl Pilkington. The fifth series just debuted on iTunes this week at a very reasonable price. Intriguingly, the star of the show is not Gervais, despite the name. It’s Pilkington. The man, who really does resemble an orange has some of the most outlandish and hilarious ideas about life in general. In the first series of the show he presented a way to control population growth: It would be for people to live to the age of roughly 75 and then start aging backwards. A couple years later the Benjamin Buttons movie is set to sweep Oscar season based on the same premise. Coincidence? Or is it Pilkington’s genius?

2. Gervais has three live comedy specials –
Animals, Politics, and Fame are three of Ricky’s live gigs that you can find on Amazon. Jon Stewart has described Gervais as a man who loves facts, and basically, his shtick is to take facts about animals, religion, politics, etc. and play off them. For instance, the other night on “The Daily Show” Gervais exclaimed “You can lead a cow upstairs but not down.” A simple fact that you may or may not have known. He then added, “Imagine being the guy that found that out the hard way.” Gervais’ blend of facts and satire leads to hysteria and all three DVDs are great for anyone looking for a quick laugh.

3. FlanimalsGervais is also an established author. In addition to helping Karl Pilkington release a couple books, Gervais has a collection of books called Flanimals. It’s a series of books for children about imaginative animals Gervais makes up. He details what they look like, their habitats, and their behaviors. The illustrations are always wonderful and witty, but do not expect “Office” style humor, this is strictly a book for kids (and stoners).

4. Ricky Gervais on “Alias” – Some of you may remember, but right around the time that “The (original) Office” was hitting it big in America, Gervais was a hot commodity. He did a one-episode guest spot on “Alias,” in which he was actually called upon to act. Gervais, who had never considered himself an actor, was cast to portray a terrorist. There’s even a slow-motion shot in the episode in which Gervais actually looks pretty scary.

5. Gervais wrote a “Simpsons” episode –
Gervais has always said that even though some American TV shows have copied BBC comedies to various degrees of success (“The Office,” “Coupling”), he insists that even THOSE shows were inspired by American comedies like “The Simpsons.” A couple seasons back, Gervais was awarded the distinct honor of both writing and starring in his own “Simpsons” episode, in which he tries to seduce Marge via song. The song “Lady Blue” is very reminiscent of “Freelove Freeway” from season one of “The Office.”

6. Seona Dancing – Speaking of Ricky’s musical talents, he was in an 80’s pop group called Seona Dancing. Thin and resembling David Bowie, this is a far cry from the Ricky Gervais we’d grow to love and laugh at. Music has been a major part of Ricky’s life. Before he was a comedian he was a radio DJ, and also music adviser on the BBC drama “This Life” (thanks Wikipedia).

7. This Side of the Truth blog – Currently, Ricky is prepping his film This Side of the Truth with Jennifer Garner, Tina Fey, Rob Lowe, and Jason Bateman for release. Along the way he’s been keeping video blogs and diligent postings about the film’s progress and anything that comes to Ricky’s demented mind at his website rickygervais.com where you can find out even more information about the man. The blogs themselves are hilarious, as making regular video blogs and postings would not be something Gervais would do. For instance, a more recent posting:

Did our first screening of This Side Of The Truth.

It went very well. Everyone loved it and said nice things, but it doesn’t really count as the audience was mainly made up of people I know and friends of people I know.

David Mitchell from Peep Show was there. I nearly didn’t recognize him as he has lost so much weight. He used to look like a little fat owl but now he’s properly thin and healthy. I went over to say hello. I’ve only met him a few times before and I should have just told him how good he looks.

What I actually said was, “Fuck me, have you got AIDS?”

He hasn’t.”

Ghost Town is receiving highly favorable reviews (82% on Rotten Tomatoes) and comes out this Friday.