Ricky Gervais's standup comedy is not for the squeamish. The man responsible for the cringe-inducing boss from the original British version of The Office
takes fiendish glee in jokes about teenage cancer patients, grotesque obesity, ill-conceived AIDS literature, and accidental homosexual incest. But Gervais never seems nasty or crude, partly because he also delights in jokes about the political implications of nursery rhymes and comparing sharks with Nazis (sharks, with their ability to smell the tiniest amount of blood from a mile away, would have found Anne Frank in a heartbeat). But his greatest comic target is ego--and all the ways human beings inflate themselves to ridiculous effect. "I hate talking about all the charity work I do," Gervais declares. He compares the Falklands War to holding a midget at arms length and kicking him, and he imagines a conversation between a fawning Hitler and the philosopher Nietzsche, who's just a bit put out to learn how Hitler interpreted his work. What makes Gervais so brilliant is the slippery way he turns everything into its opposite: when he's self-deprecating, he reveals all-consuming vanity; when he presents a guise of intelligence, he rolls out the dumbest thoughts imaginable. The comic collisions in the viewer's brain are sublime and very, very funny. Also included on the DVD of Out of England: The Stand-up Special
is an engaging interview with Gervais in which, among other things, he giggles about tackling taboo subjects and tries to figure out why one's friends are so much funnier than any comedian. Fans of Extras
or Gervais's destined-to-be-a-cult-film The Invention of Lying
should not miss this comedy special. --Bret Fetzer
Taped live before a sold-out audience at the WaMu Theater at New York Citys Madison Square Garden, Ricky Gervais: Out of England The Stand-Up Special is a high-spirited hour of offbeat observations and understated humor from the actor/comedian/writer/director. The show includes Gervais unique takes on such disparate (and often politically incorrect)issues as fund-raising, autism, fame, nursery rhymes, Nazis, moronic friends, obesity … and his penis size.