Bill Carter of the NY Times moderated a fascinating and highly entertaining conversation with multi-award winning Ricky Gervais, said by some to be the most influential British writer/comedian in the USA since Charlie Chaplin. Ricky of course created The Office which is now shown in 90 countries. Even China is considering creating a version, which should be especially funny,when they try and translate it into all of the dialects spoken in China.
Ricky has won three Golden Globes, two primetime Emmy’s, and seven BAFTAS. I’m not even sure what a BAFTA is, but I’m sure it’s something special since he admits to winning seven of them! (LOL)
As I walked into the 92nd Street Y, I ran into Caroline Hirsch, New York’s reigning Queen of Comedy, and the creator/producer of the NY Comedy Festival. This event is part of that festival and Caroline always brings in the biggest stars from the comedy world to play in special venues.
The event was opened by a man named Buddy Teich,who is described as the benefactor of the Y’s “Funny People” series. I know Buddy as the man who seconded my application to become an LA Friar, when Milton Berle sponsored me for membership many years ago. Uncle Miltie was a good friend of mine, and honored me by sponsoring me for membership while I was out in LA. I had been writing some material for him, and one day while I was at his house, he suggested bringing me into the LA Friars. He was the Pres. at the time.
When I asked him who would second me, he said his friend Buddy Teich. That was the last time I saw him until last night. I know he didn’t remember cause it was so long ago, but it was great to be able to see him again and reminded me of my friendship with the legend known as Mr. Television.
Ricky had lots to say about a lot of things. He started out by saying that just before he came over he ran into Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters on the street, and Dave had invited him to his show tonight. He was all excited about going, until his girlfriend reminded him he had to appear at the Y. So much for Dave Grohl and Foo Fighters!
A little known fact about Ricky is that in 1982, he and his friend Bill Macrae formed a British New Wave group called Seona ( Shawna) Dancing, with Gervais writing and singing the lyrics. In 1985, one of his songs became a #1 hit in The Philippines, which he still can’t understand.
On people being offended by the jokes he told while hosting The Golden Globes this past year: They should see my stand-up act! It’s not like I was playing to a roomful of wounded soldiers. In referring to his remarks about The Tourist starring Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, he described it as, ( and I’m paraphrasing ) “gently ribbing two of the most talented , … or did he say pampered,… people on the planet about one of their films.” The reason I’m paraphrasing is because just as he said two of the most … people my attention was drawn away and I only heard it subconsciously!
On the possibility of hosting The Oscars : ” They don’t want me. They want someone nice and pleasant! It’s a night of glamour. I’d be fired immediately!”
He had a lot to say about Karl Pilkington, from The Ricky Gervais Show, who Ricky and Stephen Merchant have made into sort of a cult celebrity. They met when Karl was producing a radio show for Ricky in 1997, and Ricky was struck not only by his unusual sense of humor, but also his directness, and his inability to be pretentious. That and the fact that “he has the roundest head Ricky Gervais had ever seen on a human being!”
Some of Ricky’s most important thoughts:
Ricky thinks it’s important to laugh every day, and that humor makes you bulletproof to the big and little miseries we all have to suffer!
In discussing the difference between British and American humor he said that in England, everyone wants you to be as miserable as they are.
In America, every kid grows up thinking that they can be President. In England the attitude is more like, ” Don’t bother trying. It won’t be you!” That’s why the character of David Brent is so perfectly British. He’s a man who thinks he’s above his own station in life.
He and Larry David create what might be seen as “comedy of embarrassment”, because an Englishman really tries his best to get to his grave without ever being embarrassed.
There’s nothing like doing your own thing, and not having to listen to anyone else!
They also showed clips from “Life’s Too Short”, a fake documentary from Gervais and Merchant starring actor Warwick Davis (Prof. Flitwick in the “Harry Potter” movies) that premieres on the BBC later this year and on HBO in 2012.
It was a packed crowd, and a fun and insightful look into the mind of Ricky Gervais!