Following his second turn hosting the Golden Globes, Ricky Gervais helped out fellow ex-pat Brit Piers Morgan by granting him an interview, as played last night on CNN.
Gervais wasn't the least bit apologetic about his roasting of Hollywood and the HFPA during the Globes — and why should he be? Isn't that what a good comedian is supposed to do at one of these things. As Morgan found out, Gervais did relay one really great tip about awards shows: Since every 10 minutes, three or four more audience members become losers, the room really becomes that much harder the longer into the show you go.
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Here are some rules of thumb for comedy that Gervais dished out last night, as told chronologically during the hour. These are not all of the rules, naturally. But he made some solid points that ring true, whether you're doing your first paid weekend gig or hosting a big televised ceremony. On with it then:
1) "My main aim isn't to shock people, at all," he said. "I want to make people laugh. I want to do a good job. But on my terms, really. It's not a popularity contest with me. If someone said, 'Oh, you could make that joke more palatable. More people would like you.' I'd go, 'That's not my joke then.' I do this for me, really. And I think you have to be true to yourself."
2) "They hired me for a job and if they didn't want me, they shouldn't have hired me."
3) "No one has the right not to be offended. And don't forget, just because you're offended, it doesn't mean you're in the right. A lot of people are offended by mixed marriage. It doesn't mean they're right."
4) "There's nothing you shouldn't joke about. It depends what the joke is. Comedy comes from a good or a bad place. And I like to think that mine comes from a good place. You know, when you see my stand-up, on the face of it, I'm talking about taboo subjects, but they're to get me to a position. They're to get the audience to a place they haven't been before."
5) "I think a comedian's job isn't just to make people laugh, I think it's to make people think."
6) "I think with comedy you should have no prejudices. As soon as you have prejudices, it falls down comedically. Comedy is an intellectual pursuit. Comedy appeals to the intellect, not the emotional. As soon as you go emotional, it stops being funny. It starts being rallying. That's why a real racist joke isn't funny, because it's not true. And someone in the audience is going, 'Well, he's having a go at something that I can't help. You have a go at things that people do. If someone goes crazy, and trashes a hotel room, talk about it. But you don't talk about their sexuality, or the color of their skin."
7) On the Globes and awards: "It's also the worst room for a comic, because, Jerry Seinfeld said he'd never do an awards show, because they're not there to be made to laugh, they're there to see if they've won an award. And of course, as it goes on, with everyone that wins, three people lost. So it's exponential that people would go, 'I don't care anymore!'"
8) "My strategy is to make me laugh. If there's anyone in the world like me, that's a bonus. I'm very Darwinist about this. You do your own thing, and then you see if you survive. And I wouldn't have it any other way. Because if you start second-guessing and you're trying to find people that are like you or are changing to make certain people like you, you're finished, and you're finished as a comedian, more than any 0ther thing in the world. You know. It's not my job to worry about what people think of me. That's a job for a politician. I don't care what people think of me. I care that I've done a good job, and I care that I've told the truth. If it's funny, what a great bonus that is."
9) On mocking/roasting the rich and famous: "I'm not judging them. I'm not judging them for what they did. I'm confronting the elephant in the room. They hired me. Like I'm going to go out there, and not talk about the issues in their industry. I've got to be an outsider there. I mustn't come out there as everyone's mate, and schmooze. That's nauseating. I've got to come out there, and I've got to roast them."
Gervais also defended his last-second joke about being an atheist by thanking God at the end of the Globes telecast. Here's how he explained it to Morgan:
10) "If you start trying to be cool and sexy, you've lost it. You've just lost it, certainly as a comedian. You must never take yourself too seriously."
11) On opinion versus fact: "If you got me here and said, Ricky, I didn't find you funny. I've never found you funny. You've got an annoying face. I've never liked you. I'd say, that's fine. But if you say, and I saw you eating a squirrel in the park. I'd go, no no no, no you didn't. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they're not entitled to their own facts."
12) "As a comedian, what you try and do is be as funny onstage, or on a telly, or in a film, as you are in a pub with people you know and trust and drink with."