New York Magazine

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Skip to content, or skip to search.

Having a Laff Yet?


Ricky Gervais, with Orlando Bloom and Ashley Jensen.  

“That’s exactly what we’re saying,” he says. “That it’s too easy. It’s not what half of you wanted to do. And you shouldn’t have done it if you didn’t want to do it.” After Extras, Gervais will continue touring his live stand-up show, film an HBO special, and shoot and direct a film he’s written called This Side of the Truth. As for his next collaboration with Merchant, he’s looking toward something more dramatic. “It excites us more. It’s the thing that lasts,” he says. “It’s easy to make people laugh. People laugh at anything. You know what I mean?”

Granted, when you’ve created the greatest comedy in TV history, you might be excused for thinking that this whole comedy thing is pretty easy. “You know when you play tennis with someone who’s nowhere near as good as you,” he says, “and you have to say, ‘Okay, you can play in the doubles area and I’ll only use one arm’? That’s what me and Steve feel like when we’re doing comedy in England. It sounds arrogant. But the first time I won a BAFTA, I thought, Wow, this is amazing. Then they called out someone else who won a BAFTA, and I thought, Well, they’re rubbish. They’re awful. I’m not so proud of this now.

Okay, what did you expect him to say? I’m just so happy for this opportunity? It’s really great to work with such talented people? Hey, a lot of TV comedy is shite. A lot of celebrities are shameless embarrassments. Gervais is only too happy to point this out, even at the expense of sounding like he’s chastising the world for not being more like Ricky Gervais. He used to be afraid of how people would react to him, but not anymore. “A journalist wrote a piece about me, earlier in the year, saying my stand-up’s awful, Extras wasn’t very good, emperor’s new clothes, and thank God this is the end of his career,” he says. “And that week I got nominated for four Emmys, signed up for two Hollywood movies, and had the fastest-selling live tour in history.” This led to a revelation. “When I first came into this, I was scared of the press. Now, I’m not scared of them. How can they hurt me? Them saying I’m rubbish can’t hurt me. Them not liking me can’t hurt me. Them saying I’m fat and stupid and not funny can’t hurt me.” He’s realized there’s only one person who can really hurt him. He repeats this knowledge like a mantra, and it rings true. “Only I can ruin my career. Only I’ve got that power,” he says. “Only I can ruin this. Only I can ruin it.”


Current Issue
Subscribe to New York

Give a Gift