Balance October 2017 - 28

T H E B I G I N T E RV I E W

for you." I said: "I don't want to follow Ali G! There's
enough room for two comedians in this world!"'
On a show brimming with edgy comic talent,
Gervais is remembered for his outspoken news
reporting. However, as he points out, there was
nothing that outrageous about him, given everyone
on the show was near-the-knuckle.
He adds: 'They were saying the most
horrendous things and I thought, how can I stand
out here? So I asked [hosts] Daisy Donovan and
Iain Lee to pretend to be offended. So I would say
things and they'd go, "You've gone too far". I wasn't
saying anything worse than anyone else on that
show, but people said [he mimes typing]: "He's
the most-offensive..." No, I wasn't. In fact, I had
more of a conscience than most. That's where it all
started. I remember managing my own [destiny] -
how am I going to stand out?'

E NJOY S OME
RARE RICKY

1999 Golden Years
Gervais and Merchant's
Comedy Lab pilot about
a man obsessed with
David Bowie

CULT STATUS
And that is the genius of Gervais: original thought.
While becoming a favourite on The 11 O'Clock Show,
Ricky was working on a pilot with Xfm colleague
Stephen Merchant for the show that would become
The Office. The rest, as they say... And he explains:
'Whatever is the biggest thing in the world, the
next biggest thing will be the antidote to that. If
you have a market where 90 per cent is this, the
antidote is going to make up the other 10 per cent.
The 90 per cent might be 20 things doing it,
but that antidote is one thing. It's the single
biggest thing. And that's the same with any cult.
'The biggest thing in Britain at any one time - a
band or a comedian - is often biggest because
they've pandered to everyone in Britain. But they
don't sell a ticket outside the UK. Whereas a cult
in Britain - and a cult in every other country - is
10 times bigger than the biggest thing in Britain,
because there are 7 billion people in the world.
If you do something that is slightly different,
everyone in every country is going to go: "I haven't
seen anything like that before." A world cult is
bigger than the biggest thing in any country.'
Fame followed, and he adds: 'You don't
experience world fame because you're not there.
You get reports that The Office is the biggest thing
in Chile. Most people rate fame and success as how

THE BIGGEST THING IN
BRITAIN AT ANY ONE
TIME IS OFTEN
BIGGEST BECAUSE
THEY'VE PANDERED TO
EVERYONE IN BRITAIN
28

2001 Spaced
Gervais cameos in the
second season of the
Simon Pegg sitcom

big they are on their doorstep, because that's the
thing they see. If you step out and see your face
on a bus and your friends and family think you're
famous, then you're the biggest thing in the world,
whereas actually that's not true.'
Ricky became one of the biggest things in the
world in 2004 when The Office won two Golden
Globes. Within days, Christopher Guest - one
of his comedy heroes - reached out, as did Matt
Groening (who asked him to appear in The
Simpsons) and JJ Abrams (who asked him to appear
in Alias), while David Letterman ('Instrumental in
breaking me in America') was another champion.
'Mental,' Ricky marvels. 'Absolutely mental.'
He continues: 'I kept it at arm's length, because
I always thought that you have a pile of goodwill,
which you can use up in the first weekend or spread
out over 20 years.'

END OF BRENT?
2004 training videos
Gervais and Merchant
made two frankly
brilliant corporate
training videos for
Microsoft (yes, really).
The closest you'll get to
more Office.

2009 Sesame Street
Just when you thought
you couldn't love Ricky
any more...

2011 The Simpsons
Everyone knows about
the episode he wrote in
2006. He also appeared
in a Brit-dominated
2011 episode.

2013 guitar tutorials
As Brent, he made
a string of online
guitar tutorials.

BA LA N CE October 2017

I've been fortunate enough to meet Ricky a couple
of times, and his charisma, energy and likeability
are striking. However, he has sent Balance into
quite the emotional tailspin. It seems we might
have seen the last of Office hero David Brent,
despite the movie David Brent: Life on the Road
hinting at more. But Ricky says: 'I don't know. I
think I'd be pushing my luck. It was nice to revisit
him. But I don't want it to look like it's been a long
time (with the character). When you add it up,
there's about 12 hours of Brent in total. That's about
half a series of the American version! But the main
thing is, it would get too sad. Because it's so real, it
would be too tragic: a 60-year-old man wanting to
be a pop star and failing. I want to leave him with
people thinking he's all right now.'
 Our time, regrettably, is almost over. But before
we go our separate ways, he leaves us with this gem:
'All the things that I know now, all the things I've
learned, even the things that seem like revelations,
I feel like I sort of knew them already. You don't
have to learn that if you're nice to people, they're
nice back. You don't have to learn about hard work.
But when you're proved right again, you know
deep down that it's right. All the things that are
clichés are true. Love and being kind are the most
important things. When it comes down to it,
they're all that matters. We are machines and so
without these good feelings and being kind, we
are nothing. We are plants.' B
Ricky Gervais's global tour Humanity, London's
Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith, 4-19 October



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance October 2017

Balance October 2017 - 1
Balance October 2017 - 2
Balance October 2017 - 3
Balance October 2017 - 4
Balance October 2017 - 5
Balance October 2017 - 6
Balance October 2017 - 7
Balance October 2017 - 8
Balance October 2017 - 9
Balance October 2017 - 10
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