On Sunday night, the New York Comedy Festival brought Ricky Gervais to 92Y for a conversation with NY Times media critic Bill Carter. The beautiful thing about a comedic chat is that no one is going for punchlines and you get a glimpse inside of the mind behind the artist. Fortunately for his fans, Gervais is fairly upfront about how he feelings towards society and the industry, and has no problem speaking his mind. He’s not offensive, he simply tells how he feels in a very matter-of-fact way, even if there are individuals who may find him offensive. As he aptly put, he and Larry David have been grouped in the ‘cringe’ category of comics who go for uncomfortable humor – which is true – and hilarious.
While he wasn’t promoting a book or CD, Gervais did have the opportunity to discuss his upcoming series on Showtime and his continued work in England that will eventually make it to the US. His podcast, starring him, collaborator Stephen Merchant, and friend Karl Pilkington, set a Guinness World Record as the most downloaded podcast ever. Although, as Gervais noted, people get into the Guinness book for not cutting their fingernails. Nevertheless, the show is the next great phenomenon from the comic talent that is Gervais.
Host Bill Carter touched on a few topics, included Gervais’s infamous Golden Globes hosting gig where he managed to offend everyone in Los Angeles – as he put it ‘ I wasn’t in a room full of wounded soldiers.’ He also delved into his thoughts on American and British humor. Americans are raised to believe that they can do anything, the British are raised to believe they won’t succeed at anything. Gervais firmly believes in the power of creativity and going after your ambitions, which is reassuring to hear from someone whose humor has raised the ire of those in power while attracting a large fan base.
Gervais is a very thoughtful comedian, it’s not as though the audience is sitting intently waiting to hear a joke. He’s entertaining, but also very perceptive in terms of what he finds funny and why humor is such an important tool to use. He’s part philosopher, part prankster, and part comedian. By the way, if you’re offended by anything he does, he doesn’t give a fuck.
Thanks to 92Y for the use of it’s photography.