Ricky Gervais Takes a Stand in His HBO Special

There's not a single politically correct bone in Ricky Gervais' body, thank god.

His hilarious Ricky Gervais: Out of England: The Stand-Up Special airing at 9 p.m. ET and 10 p.m PT, starting this Saturday (Nov. 15, shows no topic is off limits, from Nazis to obesity.

Gervais jokes in his routine about being called the "rotund comic" and tells the story of going jogging with his iPod playing and getting snapped by the paparazzi. Next day, he sees the photo in the paper with the caption "iPudge." In person, he has no problem chatting about his shortcomings, although his self-effacing humor carries an air of confidence.

Gervais, the media darling who created The Office for British TV and Extras for HBO, combined material from his three sold-out British tours for this special taped last summer at Madison Square Garden. He chatted about the special with a group of TV writers, popping up on stage in his trademark black T-shirt and pants -- apparently it's not just Simon Cowell and Michael Kors sporting this look.

Gervais says he never really tried for a career in comedy, it all just came to him. Unlike most comics, there's nothing tragic in his background, no horrible home life or a driving ambition to become a star.

"I didn't have tough times. I wasn't trying. I had a normal job for seven years. I was a people watcher. I was a funny guy and a comedy fan. It was just one of those things that happened when I was about 36," Gervais, now 47, says. "I met Steve Merchant and we started doing stuff together. It wasn't that romantic struggle of coming up through the clubs."

Because he started so late in his career, Gervais says it has helped him take his success in stride. In fact, his delayed launch into comedy probably helped him when it came time to do The Office for British television.

"We didn't compromise at all. You know, if the BBC didn't let me do (The Office) my way, I was just going to walk away. I look back now and I shudder," Gervais says. "I never networked. I didn't have a burning ambition to be famous. What excited me was a chance to write and direct my own sitcom. Which was, you know, a dream I had from 36."

While he's best-known for his comic roles, Gervais charms to stand-up, which pops him right in the spotlight where he likes it.

"I like being the last bastion of self-censorship, it's exciting," Gervais says. "Stand-up is more of an evolution. The audience chooses the best bits for you. It's nearly cheating (in comparison to writing scripted comedy). I'm proud of The Office and Extras because I think it's a harder drive to do a narrative piece of comedy that is hopefully not just funny, but has some sort of pay-off or point to it all."

Rumors are running high right now that Gervais will make a guest appearance on NBC's The Office, but it's difficult to know how that would work. Certainly, the door seems to be slammed shut on his character returning to the paper business. But Gervais does say that he's trying to persuade creative partner Merchant to do another Extras special.

"I don't want to come back for a less-wanted encore," Gervais says. "But unlike the English Office which we definitely killed dead, it's never-say-never with Extras."

That wouldn't happen for a while, if ever, says Gervais because of the crazy schedule he and Merchant have in the next year. They are writing a film, which is set to begin production next year.

He does, however, have some advice for all those Americanized versions of comedy shows now on the air, from Kath & Kim to Worst Week.

"I think The Office is the first successful British remake of a sitcom since Sanford and Son. So the stats are against you, so don't take it personally. It really is just luck," Gervais says. "You're all meant to say I was being humble there and it wasn't luck."


VMAs 2017