Ricky Gervais has never been one to mince his words. Last night, after a screening in Manchester of his new film, he made some fresh observations about his frequent collaborator Karl Pilkington, and the infamous Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.
Gervais compared the latter with the lead character of his new film (and The Office) David Brent: “Trump has more in common with Brent than he has with JFK. He’s an entertainer, and he just wants to be more famous. I don’t think he ever thought he’d be president – he just thought it was fun.
“He only thought of politics a year ago! He can’t believe his luck, can he? And neither can all the privileged people in America going ‘about time, we’ve got a spokesman.’”
Gervais’s comments are likely to offend some people, but the comedian is past caring. “I know that everything I say will offend someone somewhere in the world, but so what?” he said. “Just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right – some people are offended by equality. You don’t need to try and offend these days – don’t worry, it’ll happen. Comedy at its best is saying ‘we’re all idiots, and that’s cool’. Don’t worry about it – we’re all gonna die, so who gives a fuck?”
Gervais expressed that, when creating drama, it is important to sympathise with all characters, despite how unlikable some of them may be. He compared this to real life: “I know an American negotiator in a SWAT team,” he said. “He has to go to situations with an ordinary guy taking his wife hostage with a gun. The first thing he does is try and sympathise with him – he has to get into his head and work out what a bad day he’s had. I asked my friend what if he can’t talk the guy down, and he said ‘then I get him near a window.’”
Gervais did not seem to think that any more work with frequent-collaborator Karl Pilkington is on the cards. “It’s difficult,” he said. “I couldn’t get Karl to do stuff even when he had no money and I was offering him money and fame.
“Karl is now a little bit too wise: He’s wise to me and he’s travelled the world. I just don’t think it would work. It got to be a strain even towards the end of Idiot Abroad, because he did know stuff. And you had to cut that out. If he laughed on the podcast… we edited it out. He’s forty-five now – he can’t keep being a moron. Although he is still good at it, and does have a head like a fucking orange. And he’s got a grumpier face with lines now, so he’s like an old orange.”
Despite Gervais starting his career as a member of the failed new wave duo Seona Dancing, he stressed that the 15-track accompanying Life on the Road album exists only because that is what his character would do: “I’d hate people to think that this is me trying to be a popstar,” he said. “When I bring out my own album, ‘Ricky Gervais Sings the Classics’, that’s when it’s all over.”
Although it’s not perfect, this journalist loved the new David Brent outing. It’s more direct than the awkward humour of The Office – despite a lot of the great bits having already made it to the trailer, there are plenty of laughs to be had. Perhaps even more noteworthy however, is the tragedy of the film – Brent’s dejection reaches new levels of pathos than before, meaning, in a way, this might just be the most emotional film of 2016. Life on the Road marks the end of a chapter for Gervais, but what an end it is.
David Brent: Life on the Road is released in cinemas on Friday 19th August. Watch the trailer for the movie below: