Director: John L. Spencer
In his first stand-up special since 2010 Ricky Gervais wastes no time being desperately irreverent. This of course is default-setting stuff for Gervais. He has no interest in checking his privilege, not when he can whip it out and waggle it in your face. He was broke, and then he wasn’t. Rich white males can get a hard time too – apparently. Usually by nobody-trolls on Twitter. And so the thing to do is not only retweet and re-troll them but to remember it, many years later, and celebrate those little 160-character-assassinations – make the joke, make it irreverent-af and then explain it. Explain the fuck out of it. Explain it with high-pitched incredulity. Then, maybe then, it’ll be funny. If it’s not – laugh hysterically as you repeat why it was clever. Rinse. Then repeat.
For some reason that evades me entirely now I wanted to like this. I could see that Gervais was playing a role as he celebrated free-speech and questioned transphobic accusations. He is not the first – and won’t be the last – comedian to do this. He likes lining up hypocrisies. And he has some semblance of a point as he cruelly rips on Caitlyn Jenner. Her special treatment can seem odd and cruel when she has crimes against her name (or were they not against her name? Were they against Bruce’s?)
But all too quickly Gervais’ too-pleased-with-himself grinning, gurning clown behaviour is both irritating and insulting. Yes, sure, like he could give a fuck. But isn’t that part of the problem and certainly so far from any solution.
All of his boasting around entitlement – which he presents as some meta-prank, extremism mocking idealism – involves him being a dick. Making no great point unlike say, Dave Chappelle. Instead he stays in mocking, smug mode as he over-vents and dredges up these pathetic Twitter battles. Twitter will be the death of us all. Avoid it. Or use it cautiously. But don’t make a stand-up special around it. Sure, nobody-trolls say stupid things, sometimes even on purpose. But why the need to feel like you’ve won. If there was any security in “success” this aim for provocation would never even be required.
Gervais “jokes” about not having children, mimes kicking a dead baby that he neglected – which is supposed to be hilarious. Or shocking. Or even vaguely something.
And then he goes back to congratulating himself for being a powerful voice in atheism. And whatever else.
His cruelty might be a sham. He apparently thinks its worthy of a show. But all it actually shows is that his cleverest trick was not only inventing and inhabiting David Brent, but never quite realising how close to his comic creation he was and is in real life. That it was no great stretch to play a loathsome loser. Or that he simply enjoyed it so much he’d carry on ad-infinitum.
Speaking of stretch, he has this bit about distended testicles. His ball-sac dangling so low now. Bigger even than his penis. This took me by surprise, even if it was just another boring, lazy trope around aging. I’d always imagined him to be pretty much nothing but a huge fucking knob. Despite his biological argument against that he comes up with no lasting proof here. Maybe the most work he put into this show was the ironic title?
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