By Simon Vozick-Levinson
April 09, 2007 at 12:00 PM EDT

It’s no exaggeration to say that Ricky Gervais has attained godlike status among discerning TV comedy fans. He deserves every last word of rapturous praise — but he’s a cruel, fickle deity. He gave us the best sitcom franchise it’s had in years with the original U.K. edition of The Office, then pulled the plug on the show after a paltry 14 episodes. A reprieve came in the form of the excellent Extras, but again, Gervais and Co. walked after a mere two seasons of six episodes each.

Well, he began to repay those karmic debts to the world late last month, when he participated in Britain’s 2007 Comic Relief telethon. Gervais helped rake in a significant amount of cash for charity, of course. Perhaps almost as importantly, though, he came through with another blindingly brilliant bit of television. (You can check it out below.) His Comic Relief appearance starts off as a straightforward pitch for African aid, but about two minutes in, it morphs into vintage Gervais. I won’t spoil the wickedly funny twists for you, but expect to see one or two of Ricky’s famous friends join in the fun — and I’m not talking about his loyal foil Stephen Merchant.

(And if you’re still jonesing for more Gervais after that, try a couple of must-see interview segments he did last year with Garry Shandling and Larry David, both of which YouTubers have helpfully archived.)

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