Ricky Gervais, At Your Service

The ever-hilarious Ricky Gervais, a.k.a the mastermind behind The Office, Extras, and The Ricky Gervais Show, is hosting the Golden Globes again on January 16. Consequently, he hosted a conference call with reporters yesterday to promote the upcoming appearance; here's what Gervais had to say about Steve Carrell, the American Office versus the British Office, Louis C.K., and table-making.

On hosting the Golden Globes a second time:
Like anything you do for the first time, you say, “Oh, let me do it again! I can do it better! I can do it better.”

I’ve done enough of these award things that they know what I’m doing and hopefully I won’t blow that either way. Hopefully I won’t say something that’s so horrendous that I’ll never work again. Or worse, saying something so anodyne that I won’t ever work again. If people know where you’re coming from and know what the target is, then you can really get away with murder. Cue O.J. Simpson joke.

On his stand-up show:
A comedian's job isn’t just to make people laugh but to make them think. I’m not a lover of broad, anodyne comedy. I want a gasp as well. I get as big a buzz from a gasp as I do a belly laugh. The point of art is to make a connection with a person you may never meet. The size of that connection with the individual is important. You do that by being true to yourself.

On the power of storytelling:
You can go see a stand-up that does a thousand brilliant puns. Great. You laugh for about an hour. You look at your watch at about half an hour. And you won’t remember one of them. But if someone comes out there and tells you a story, then there’s nothing to compete with that. Whatever happens with innovation in entertainment, there’s going to be something that makes Avatar look like Steamboat Willy one day. But I tell you, it will never compete with one human being telling another human being what an awful day they’ve had. It won’t.

On The Ricky Gervais Show:
It really doesn’t count as work. It’s really strange. This is now a multi-million animation around the world on its second season and it’s three blokes in my office just talking rubbish. It just goes to show that all the best things are labors of love. From [the book series] Flanimals being me just trying to make my nephews laugh, to the podcasts, hanging out with mates, to the "I worked in an office for seven years and I used to people watch." [In] stand-up you just talk about things that interest you. I know how lucky we are to be able to do that. Unlike The Office and Extras, I do want this one to run and run, because we’d never run out of Karl.

On the American Office and Steve Carrell:
We’ve made so much money off of Steve Carrell. He’s like a big goose that laid golden eggs for us. Now we need some other shmuck who will get up at 6 o’clock every day for seven years. ... [But] there’s no one like [Carrell]. He’s untouched by Hollywood. He’s just a lovely family man who loves comedy and the work and he’s done an amazing job above and beyond the call of duty. We never knew the remake was going to be this successful. It’s not so steeped in the realism, it hasn’t got that existential quality. People are better at their jobs, it’s more fun. But that’s the difference between the British and Americans really. Americans are told they can be the next president of the United States. British people are told it won’t happen to you.

On his favorite comedian:
The best, most exciting stand up at the moment is Louis C.K. The bravest, most honest comedian out there. He made me look at myself harder. He’s got no fear.

On being an artist:
For the first years of being famous, i was scared of using the word "art" 'cause I thought it sounded pretentious. I thought that was some sort of honor that was to be bestowed on me. But now I think it’s my responsibility to consider myself an artist cause that’s why I’m doing it. Doing it is the reward.

On creating good work:
Most things are rubbish and that’s true of any genre. Art, TV, furniture-making. Most tables are rubbish. But when you see a really brilliant table that the guy spent four years making and he was a master craftsman and it’s lasted 700 years, you want to cry. It brings a lump to your throat. And yeah, I want to bring a lump to your throat.

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