Nightline profile “Ricky Gervais: King of Unkind Comedy”

In case you missed it last night, ABC’s Nightline profiled Ricky Gervais, calling him the “king of unkind comedy” and introducing the segment by describing him as “hilariously offensive and offensively hilarious.”

The profile and interview rehashes the ol’ Golden Globes “controversy” even though everyone’s already over it, then asks about how Gervais employs Karl Pilkington in An Idiot Abroad (as well as on their podcast-turned-animated HBO series, The Ricky Gervais Show), Warwick Davis in Life’s Too Short, as well as the newest Gervais character, Derek.

On people hating on Gervais because Derek, he said it didn’t bother him at all.

“I created Derek. He’s a fictional character. If I say, ‘He’s not meant to be disabled,’ that’s the end of it. In Extras, there was a guy with Down syndrome, and I got an actor with Down syndrome to play him. If he was autistic, I’d get Dustin Hoffman.”

The piece covers his enormous success with The Office, and follows Gervais to the London neighborhood where he lives with his longtime girlfriend. He’s asked about his joke-writing process, and what’s offensive and what’s merely funny. His formula for funny? “Comedy is, at its root, undermining or flipping societal norms.”

Watch the whole segment below:

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Gervais is quick to point out that some audience members who cry foul on an “offensive” joke are confusing the subject of the joke with the target of said joke. He’s also miffed by how society chooses whom to elevate to celebrity. “There’s no difference between fame and infamy these days,” Gervais said.

Does this profile/interview give you a different understanding of Ricky Gervais, or does it merely reinforce the opinion you already held of him?

Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

View all posts by Sean L. McCarthy →

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