Ricky Gervais (near left) is one twisted soul. So am I, apparently, for laughing as hard as I did during some moments of last night’s premiere of Extras, the former Office manager’s new import on HBO. True, some of the humor was very dry and British (more deadpan even than The Office, and with some thicker accents), but then there were such fall-off-my-chair moments as Gervais’ Andy Millman embarrassing himself by trying to pass himself off as a devout Catholic (HBO has a clip of this scene here), or Kate Winslet (far left), dressed as a nun, offering phone sex tips.
As Stereogum notes, this is the second new premium cable comedy (after Weeds) to make an Anne Frank joke, though the running gag in Extras was more about Hollywood’s exploitation of the Holocaust (Winslet played herself as a shameless Oscar hound, taking a role as a nun persecuted by Nazis just so that she can win the damn trophy already). With its shameless, misanthropic protagonist and good-sport showbiz guest stars, Extras makes a worthy companion to lead-in Curb Your Enthusiasm, and I look forward to seeing Andy razz Ben Stiller next week. (By the way, you young ‘uns, that theme song is Cat Stevens’ chestnut ”Tea for the Tillerman,” adding a nicely dark-but-whimsical Harold and Maude vibe to the show.)