The British comedian tells Time Out about turning his podcasts into an animated series
Ricky Gervais, comic genius and mastermind of The Office and Extras, is poised to invade our living rooms once again, only this time he’s a cartoon. Along with sidekicks Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, the sarcastic Brit will star in a new animated series, based on the rib-tickling lunacy of the Ricky Gervais Show podcasts. We caught up with Gervais for the inside story.
Why did you decide to do an animated version of the podcasts? I think it was because fans had started just doing it anyway and putting it on YouTube. I think it was Wildbrain, the animation house, that approached us and did a little one-minute clip for us.
Are you pleased with the way your animated characters have turned out? With me, I have tried to make myself look fat and unattractive. But with these two guys…
Do you still get nervous about how your work will be received? We don’t care. I’m not doing an act. We love doing the podcast. We did it for fun and an experiment. The best thing that came out of this is that Karl is famous, which he really hates.
Will we see you work on a sitcom again any time soon? We’ve never said that we will leave TV behind. We resisted doing a film together because after the first episode of The Office, we were offered British films. We went to Hollywood; they said we could have up to £8 million [Dhs44.9 million] to make a film. We said, ‘We’ll come back when there’s a film worth making.’ Cemetery Junction [a film written by Gervais and Merchant and released in the UK earlier this year] is the first time that we were ready. When you think of things like The Sopranos, The Wire, Damages, they are beating film on a regular basis. Most films are terrible. There are things you can do on TV that you can’t do on film. There’s something about those episodic serialisations that are grand and operatic.
What do you think has been the key to the podcast’s success? Karl. No question. It’s the world eavesdropping on someone they’ve never met before. It’s three mates who have known each other for a while having a laugh. There are people who love the podcasts much more than anything else we’ve done.
Do bad reviews and critics bother you any more? I do things to please me. If you’re happy with something yourself, you become bullet-proof. To complain about critics in this business is like a sailor complaining about the waves. Go back to the beach if you don’t like it. The Ricky Gervais Show airs on OSN Comedy every Thursday at 11.30pm from August 12.
Best of the rest: podcasts
If Ricky Gervais’s podcast has tickled your fancy, try Time Out’s pick of the best worldwide offerings. Scotland’s Funny Bits A round-up of clips from the funniest moments on Radio Scotland. Topics range from rogue hairpieces to equally dubious politicians. www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts.
Best of Chris Moyles Non-stop nonsense from Chris Moyles’s breakfast radio show, bringing together highlights from the week featuring Moyles and a host of unsuspecting guests. www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts.
The Onion Radio News An extension of The Onion’s spoof news website, these podcasts take the form of news reports, covering everything from the tongue in cheek – ‘Fat Man Killed In Wicker Chair Disaster’ – to the downright bizarre. www.theonion.com/feeds/radionews.
Eight Out of 10 Cats Show-by-show highlights from this TV quiz led by acerbic comic Jimmy Carr, with guest appearances from British celebs, comedians and TV presenters. www.tiny.cc/8-10cats.
ToastFantastic Sarcastic hosts perform regular sketches that parody every aspect of daily life in South Africa, from egg farming to ordering a coffee. www.toastfantastic.com/podcast.xml.
Mr Science Show Nerdy it may be, but we like the way this Australian show’s host, Marc West, makes science interesting and topical, investigating everything from superheroes to boredom. www.mrscienceshow.com.
This American Life One of the most popular podcasts in the US, each episode is built around a particular theme, from camping to alien encounters. Our favourite episode? Putting a band together from musicians’ classified ads. www.thisamericanlife.org.