Home Television Television-related Interviews US Townhall RealStories presents: RICKY GERVAIS
US Townhall RealStories presents: RICKY GERVAIS
Written by Scott Katz   
Friday, 10 December 2010 02:46

Ricky-Gervais-resize-02Comedian Ricky Gervais returns for a second stint as host of the Golden Globe Awards, which will be given out on Sunday, January 16, 2011.  This 68th annual ceremony will air live on both coasts, beginning at 8pm Eastern and 5pm Pacific times, from the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills where they have been held for the last 50 years.

So what can fans of Mr. Gervais look forward to on this go-round?  The actor promises that he can, and will, take things further this time with his comments to, and about, the various celebrities in the room.  He felt that last year's ceremony went well, but now that he's done it and understands the venue, he can do it much better the second time.  However, he states emphatically that he won't be back for a third.

2011 is also a pivotal year for fans of Mr. Gervais' hit television series, The Office, which will be losing its star, Steve Carell after this season, the series' seventh in May 2011.




USTH: As you look back on these last seven seasons with The Office, what are your overall feelings about the show and about doing the show on American television – working it in the American television industry and also working with the cast and with Steven Carell?

RICKY GERVAIS: Well, you know, I came to America the first time in 2004 to the Golden Globes and there we'd done our little version of this English sitcom which we were so proud of. We couldn't have been prouder of it because, you know, personally I had never tried my hardest at anything in my life as writing The Office.

And it's like I had a revelation at 39, 40 that this is the greatest feeling in the world to do something you've tried your hardest at and it turned out exactly as you wanted. And I sound like some sort of strange born-again artist, right, but that's the way I felt. I couldn't believe it.

And then we went over and we thought we were making up the numbers. And you've got to remember that America is my Mecca in terms of entertainment. Everything I've ever loved on TV and film has come out of America from Laurel & Hardy and the Marx Brothers through Woody Allen who I think brought modern comedy to the movie screen – great works of art in film and in TV.

And the last 10, 15 years TV took on film and beat it on many levels. There is nothing as audacious in TV as The Wire and The Sopranos. And it even beat it as an art form because with the pressure of movies to make their money back in the first three hours of opening, you know, they don't give it time to evolve and it's these focus groups and begging people just to come out and just like it enough to do it again.

Whereas things like The Wire, if The Wire had been based on ratings it would have been canceled. And it's amazing and they kept that up. It's like an art factory those things, like Sopranos and The Wire and so TV had that to give us. It had to give us - there was no pressure. It was much more about the work of art itself as opposed to the industry.

And so to come to America and then win the Golden Globes and then to be asked to do a remake was ridiculous. I didn't even think about it at the time because I thought, "Well nothing's going to come of this." That's me being British. That's how we think, "Nothing will come of this." And then we cast Steve Carell who, by the way I must say joking aside, I always joke about him, I always tease him, I hope people know that I think he is one of the nicest people I've ever met genuinely. There's no one like him. He's untouched by Hollywood. He's untouched by his fame, his cachet. He's just a lovely family man who loves comedy and the work and he's done an amazing job above and beyond the call of duty.

We never knew the remake was going to be this successful. I mean, it's the first successful British remake of a sitcom for 30-odd years, Sanford and Son or All in the Family or something. And they made it happen, that team made it happen. So honestly I don't think anyone has a bad word to say about Steve Carell. And it's a great ensemble cast. They've kept the level up for, you know, 100-odd episodes. It's a success story commercially and in terms of an art form.

And there's differences in this one. It had to be. It's not so steeped in that the realism, it's slightly broader. It hasn't got that existential quality. It's sort of lighter. You know, people are better at their jobs and more fun and all that but that's true. That's the difference between English and Americans really. It has to be that way. It really shows the difference between our two nations, I think, – the English and the American Office.

Americans are told they can be the next President of the United States. British people are told, "It won't happen to you." And it did happen to me. And so it's strange that I've come full circle. It started with The Office and the Golden Globes, and it's just great. So looking back, it's been ridiculous. It's been like a dream. I'm going to wake up and I'm still – I'm 36 still working in my old job. I'm still working in the office where I got the idea from and I'm going to wake up and go, "I just had the best 12-year dream I've ever had."


USTH: That's great. Congratulations on all your success. You've mentioned that you don't like to do comedy that's very safe or anodyne – that you do comedy that has its share of gasps from the audience along with the belly laughs, but that it always comes from a good place that you can justify to a critic.  That being said, 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. [an American comedian who stars in the FX series, Louie, and also starred in a film that Gervais co-wrote and co-directed, The Invention of Lying]. 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 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 cite 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 – I love Arrested Development. [Also,] Christopher Guest has never let me down –a god amongst comedians I think.
USTH: Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today and for sharing your insights with all of your many fans.
The Office airs every Thursday night on NBC at 9:00 PM, and the 68th Annual Golden Globe Awards, hosted by Ricky Gervais, will air on Sunday, January 16, 2011, also on NBC.



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