Ricky Gervais is a comic genius. Period. Look no further than The Office. You can argue about the rest, the Golden Globes, the movie misfires, that unnerving cackle, whatever. The original British version of The Office was simply perfect, and its legacy is undeniable. Can we move on?
Wonderful. Thank you.
Now, people — fans of Gervais and haters alike — I want you to try harder. By that, I mean, I don’t want you to hyperventilate every time Gervais does something a little provocative — or seems to do something a little provocative. Take for instance the recent Internet outrage over Gervais tweeting photos of himself dressed up as Hitler and as Jesus. Well, it wasn’t Jesus, actually. It was his character from his 2009 movie, The Invention of Lying. And the Hitler photo, alongside Churchill, was from an old 2005 DVD promo apparently. Not that it matters. My point is that we need to stop acting like citizens of Rock Ridge — and their state leaders — when it comes to such petty matters. Not for our own sakes, but for comedy’s. I mean, we’ve become so predictable as an audience about certain
hotwarm-button issues that we’re no longer a challenge to any comedian worth his salt. We keep overreacting, and there becomes the risk of two negative developments. One, a comedian could lose his gift, settling for the low-hanging fruit of easy outrage over carefully constructed, specific, original humor. Worse, he or she could lose total respect for us as an audience and lose interest.
Fortunately, Gervais doesn’t seem like a candidate for the latter, what with his blog and tweets and podcasts. (Throw in the fact that he walked away from The Office and Extras to tackle new challenges when he could’ve milked them for all they were worth for years, and it’s clear Gervais is not the type to rest on his laurels.) But I wish we were a more demanding audience, tougher-skinned, and less prone to hysterics. So Gervais once dressed up as Hitler? So he once told Conan O’Brien he contemplated wearing a Hitler suit to last year’s Globes and making a Mel Gibson joke? I’m so glad he didn’t. The resulting Führer furor would’ve been unbearable, and even a comic genius might be tempted to confuse controversy with creative success.
Are we too easily manipulated, PopWatchers? Can we all agree to let laughter (or silence) be the ultimate verdict on such matters?