NPR FOR THE DEAF: Portrait Of ‘A Chilled Out Enterainer’ As A Young New Romantic

DANIEL RALSTON REPORTS: In honor of his appearance on Fresh Air today, I have compiled what I consider to be the Best of Ricky Gervais from YouTube. Here are a few favorites, with context:

The Office
If you haven’t seen The Office UK, just go buy it. It simply IS the funniest show of all time. The US version of the Office has a completely different (still very funny) tone, but the original BBC version manages to strike a chord with me every time. It’s the creeping sense of desperation and boredom we all feel at our desks, told through the face of Tim (Martin Freeman), and the absurd lengths we go thru to sate our bottomless appetite for approval and connection, as illustrated by the countless psychic crotch kicks we watch David Brent (Gervais) take. Here is my favorite scene from Season 1. David Brent has organized a training seminar to help the office develop their teamwork skills. The receptionist Dawn has just broken up with her boyfriend Neil, so everyone in the office is walking on eggshells. Brent, as per usual, has failed to notice any of this, and invited everyone to participate in a series of exercises. The well intentioned workshop leader is forced to deal with Brent trying to run the show.

The follow-up to The Office is/was the less widely seen, but equally hilarious Extras, which follows the triumphs and tribultions of an out of work actor struggling to get by doing extra work (or “background artistry”). Gervais is Andy Milman, who plays the straight man to his dimwitted best friend Maggie (Ashley Jensen), his hapless agent (Stephen Merchant, co-writer and co-creator of both The Office and Extras), and the vain celebrities who show up on the different movie sets each week (Kate Winslet, Ben Stiller, Sam Jackson, etc.). In this clip from Season 2, Andy has a little bit of success with a BBC sitcom that he wrote and created. One of the genius elements of the show is that the sitcom within the show (called, When The Whistle Blows) is basically The Office, if it were done as a conventional sitcom. The boss has a catchphrase, there is canned laughter, and the critics hate it, but it is getting great ratings. In this clip, Andy gets into the VIP section of a club only to find himself a few feet from David Bowie. Andy decides to unload his problems, and Bowie works his magic.

Stand-up Comedy
Ricky Gervais is also an engaging stand-up comedian. Here is a clip of him discussing nursery rhymes from his DVD Animals. Here is a clip from the stand-up DVD Politics where Ricky talks about Hitler interpreting Nietzsche.

Talk Shows
This is a clip from last week of Gervais on The Daily Show. Ricky is always a great talk show guest, nothing seems pre-planned. This appearance features an amazing story about urinating in a sink.

Odds N’ Sods:
I have no idea where this is from, but it is really funny. It’s a clip of Ricky Gervais interviewing Chris Martin from Coldplay (sample question: Is it true you don’t trust black people)? A short film about seducing a woman. A video detailing the treatment and care of disabled people. Finally, the video for David Brent?s cover of “If You Don?t Know Me By Now.”

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