Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Ricky Gervais, er, Karl Pilkington Show

    HBO's The Ricky Gervais Show just completed it's first season.  Although the title has to be just to make marketing easier, I have no complaints about the rest of it.  It's one of the funniest things I've experienced, with or without the visual (it was originally released as audio only, but HBO added animation before they aired it).  Three men sit in a room and talk.  Well, Karl Pilkington talks.  Stephen Merchant, Gervais's long-time partner, laughs at Karl, and Ricky himself seems to frequently get quite angry.

     The topic for the season finale was "Freaks".  Basically, Karl talked about his favorite freaks, and eventually made a top five list.  One freak that was mentioned was a man whose head was on backwards.  To give you some idea of how things go, Karl brought up the man and described him, and then Stephen asks a reasonable question, in this case, if you were the man, would you rather walk forwards, and just try to turn your head, or walk backwards, where your head can see fine, but the rest of you would be messed up.  Karl answers with something totally unexpected and idiotic at whole new levels.  Karl's answer to the backwards head was that he would walk sideways, so no one would know.  At this point Ricky laughs derisively and calls him on the stupidity.

     It's hard to decide if Karl is for real or not, but after an entire season, I'm leaning towards Karl being genuine.  If not, he's a comic genius.  Now Gervais and Merchant, the brains behind the British The Office and Extras could conceivably come up with and write for such a ridiculous character, but it just doesn't feel like they are.  It feels like they've found this totally unique man and they just get off on talking to him.  Karl himself never gets angry or upset, he takes their comments and laughs with good humor.  He even allows his diary to be read on the show, which is perhaps the funniest segment.

     Also in this past episode, Karl was asked what he'd like God to say to him once he got to heaven.  After the necessary qualifying questions, of which Karl has plenty, his answer was about the same as you'd expect for anyone wanting a tour guide and an understanding of the place.  No deep understanding, new meaning, anything like that.  Karl just wants to know that basics.  He's a simple man, but the humor coming out of this show is anything but.  It's comic genius.

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