Ugh, the headline is needlessly snarky, I know. What I meant to type was, “Ricky Gervais explains the differences between American and British humor, and then goes on to explain why he’s funny.”
You can probably guess a lot of the differences in humor styles without ever reading the column—Americans are a little unsubtle, a little hamhanded, and much less into “embarrassment comedy” than our friends across the pond are—but Gervais goes on to describe the cultural differences in manners.
In my three extremely short jaunts to England (I know I’ve typed about this once before here at Evil Beet, but for the life of me I can’t remember its context), I noted that my chronic over-warmth was met with a certain amount of suspicion. And then I finally figured it out: what we in the U.S. call “politeness” can ring “inauthentic” elsewhere. In turn, I think it’s too easy for us folksy-folks to equate the British idea of “gracious” with “brittle.”
It took me a long time to acknowledge the benefits of not being overfamiliar with strangers: small-town, down-home hospitality can seem disingenuous and totally out of place, especially in a big city where it’s better to be aloof and skeptical of friendliness than to be scammed, robbed, and beaten in an alley by your new BFF. Sorry if that sounds cynical! But there’s a lot to be said for respecting personal space and boundaries, OK.
Gervais expounds on this cultural difference very nicely:
Americans say “have a nice day” whether they mean it or not. Brits are terrified to say this. We tell ourselves it’s because we don’t want to sound insincere but I think it might be for the opposite reason. We don’t want to celebrate anything too soon. Failure and disappointment lurk around every corner. This is due to our upbringing. Americans are brought up to believe they can be the next president of the United States. Brits are told, “it won’t happen for you.”
How bleak! Maybe it has something to do with all that gray—err, “grey”—weather you guys have over there.
February 19, 2012 at 1:00 pm by Jenn
His newest, Life’s Too Short, premieres Sunday on HBO (I posted a great clip over here).
Anytime Gervais writes a column for the Huffington Post—admittedly, they’re all timed to promote his latest project—I always take notice. His newest article, “On Fame,” lends Hollywood some much-needed levity. It also goes far in explaining why he really gnashed his teeth at the Golden Globes last year:
But if The Office reflected those quaint docu-soaps of the 90s that followed ordinary people having their 15 minutes, Life’s Too Short reflects the more modern age—desperate, fame-hungry monsters who will do anything just to be on the telly.
You know, so-called role models living their lives like open wounds to accumulate column inches, so they can then get some ghost-writer to spread those inches over several “autobiographies” to cash in on their infidelity, drug abuse, life of crime and personal tragedy. You can’t help but think many should have called a doctor before they called a publicist.
I’ve always been fascinated by the subject of fame. Probably because I’ve never really understood it. Or rather, I’ve never really understood why people would put fame above all else. And it seems to be getting worse. A recent university survey asked a sample of ten-year-olds what they wanted to be when they grew up. They answered “famous.” Just famous.
I guess I always wanted to be eminent. That’s the old word for fame, by the way. Being known for something. Being known for being good at something. Maybe even the best at something. “Fame” used to be fused with “respect” in some ways. That’s what distinguished it from infamy. But not any more.
Ah, Ricky! Bombastic, wise, sage-like Ricky. Read the whole article! You might discover he doesn’t irritate you at all.
February 3, 2012 at 2:30 pm by Jenn
So, that was the Tweet that set off a tirade of Christians to bash Ricky Gervais, saying that if he had any Twitter followers, they must be heathens and athiests and horrible, bad, bad people – much like him, I guess, huh?
See, though I am a Christian, I think people are entitled to think and feel how they choose to when it comes to religion, or just, you know, living their lives. Who would I be to say what was right for me is right for everyone else? I also think that anyone who wouldn’t support their fellow (gay or lesbian or otherwise) man in whatever endeavor they chose, as long as it wasn’t harming the livelihood of others, is in the wrong here. I mean, seriously, can you believe some of the garbage @GodsWordIsLaw is peddling? “I don’t know any normal man that stands up for queers”? Who even says stuff like that?
Sounds to me like some Christians are completely missing the point of the holiday they hold so dear – because insulting people based upon their thoughts, ideals, sexual preferences, or otherwise, don’t sound very “Christian-like” to me.
December 23, 2011 at 4:30 pm by Sarah
The clip itself stars Gervais and Johnny Depp—two people who, lately anyway, have kinda set themselves up to be believably insufferable—so there’s plenty of schadenfreude here, a lot of devilish mirth. Ugh, I just hate those tinted sunglasses. And that hat! Does Johnny Depp really wear a hat like that, like, outside? What a doof.
Life’s Too Short is a mockumentary starring actor Warwick Davis—get it? Because Warwick Davis is really, really short? Don’t make me explain these things—with tons of celebrity cameos. The series arrives on BBC Two next month. And HBO has picked up the series, too! Yay! Aren’t you excited?
(Top image via Whatculture)
October 27, 2011 at 9:30 am by Jenn
When you consider that his television career is only 12 years old, Ricky Gervais is incredibly prolific. Now the comedian is set to begin work on a spanking new television series. And the premise? Atheism!! No surprise there—if there’s one thing Ricky Gervais can’t get enough of, it’s telling people he’s an atheist.
Titled Afterlife, the new series will follow an atheist who dies and goes to heaven. Maybe it’ll be kind of like a bleak Touched by an Angel for the Richard Dawkins set, with Stephen Merchant playing Roma Downey (I wish!). But here’s the really exciting part: Gervais is collaborating on the show with writer and former executive producer of Dexter, Clyde Phillips. They’re writing the pilot right now. Like, they might literally be sitting at a desk together right now.
Ricky Gervais can be insufferable—in fact, I’d call his schtick “affably irritating”—but it helps that he’s witty. And if there’s one thing Gervais likes to talk about besides atheism, it’s his old TV show The Office (UK).
July 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm by Jenn
I noticed that on Fridayish a lot of celebrities tweeted about something called “Carmageddon,” and I thought it was so weird that a 1997 computer game was suddenly getting this much visibility. So I googled for answers. Turns out the LAPD actually asked celebrities to go on Twitter and announce that the 405 Freeway will be closed all weekend. Yawn.
Speaking of the freeway, this is not Kathy Griffin‘s best look:
However, this is a very good look for Ricky Gervais:
In spite of his technical difficulties, I still say Steve Martin is the only old man who should be allowed on Twitter:
As for Sarah Silverman, she is so right about this next thing. She should be a theater critic!
I think Yoko Ono is trying to get all existential and meta:
(I read that and snorted, and then I looked up and stared at my off-kilter lampshade, which is always and irretrievably off-kilter, and then I sloooowly realized that maybe Yoko Ono wants me to tilt my entire living room to match my one lampshade.)
Rob Schneider hasn’t made a good movie in ages—or ever?—but his career could be worse. He definitely has his priorities straight:
P.S. Jerry Seinfeld just joined Twitter. Should we tell him about Google+? Or should we let him wait five years?