I’m pleased The Office did well. It was funny and forward-thinking and a deliciously accurate vision of middle-management in the UK. The American one works less well, as much as I love Carrel and the cast. Because the brilliant thing about The Office was that there was an undertone of Capitalist, corporate talk, team building bollocks that had a pertinently comic value when situated in Slough.
I wasn’t really that arsed about the way the USA took him to heart, and he started to tone up and make films and get awards and make smug acceptance speeches. It never really irked me. Good on him, really. Even when he performed stand-up shows without putting the graft in, he seemed to perform admirably.
I don’t begrudge anyone success. Apart from Piers Morgan, obviously.
Personally, I felt Extras was shitter than The Office. You can’t count An Idiot Abroad because he was rarely on it. Which brings us to Life’s Too Short, which divided people into two camps.
The first camp saying that Gervais was mocking disability and finding comedy PURELY in the premise of a short person being bullied and hampered by his height. The second camp said that Gervais had attempted to de-stigmatise a taboo. Short people are PLURAL. Some are losers in life – why shouldn’t they be? Why should disabled people in the creative arts always elicit our sympathy or empathy or compassion?
Second camp have got a point. I can laugh at all sorts of bleak shit. It’s important to. To rule out laughing at the disabled is, in a very real way, another form of prejudice and hampers the revolutionary spirit of many disabled people seeking equality.
However, the point about Life’s Too Short (and I didn’t see much of it, to be fair) was that it just wasn’t very funny. Watching a dwarf trying to climb a bookcase or ring a doorbell, or fight a tall person in itself is just not funny to me. Not out of some PC, right-on obligation. It’s just not very cerebral. And it’s not clever enough to be perceived as excellent visual slapstick, like say The Three Stooges.
Gervais has become a bit of a twitter hero. Regularly writing vehemently atheist articles and defending his use of the word mong. So when he asked us to keep an open mind about his new one-off venture Derek; I tried.
I was sceptical after the adverts I’ll be honest. Gervais in a second hand cardigan, jutting his chin out with olive oil on his head? The clues were there.
But I do concede that I was profoundly shocked after watching the miserable affair.
It was thirty-five minutes of unadulterated crap.
It was like watching six teenagers get stoned and then try and do shady impressions of disabled people, before telling each other how sad they were when their Nan died.
It was a twenty five minute “spastic” impression, followed by a ten minute “we’re all God’s children” dose of sentimentality in order to justify it.
It was Gervais and his lucky bastard mates, doing impressions to each other of disability “for a laugh” in their fucking LA mansions, and then having the audacity to inflict it on us as some sort of fucking artistic mission.
And not just Gervais and crew. Everyone at Channel 4 (Hey, we just like to make brave programming choices), everyone involved in production (Working with Gervais was such a creatively electric time) and all of the fucking actors. No matter how desperate they were for work.
There is an implication that those of us who did not see the “bravery” of Gervais’ work are thoughtless, mass-market, tabloid-fodder without the insight or clarity of thought to negotiate and confront stigma.
Fuck off, fannies.
Stay tuned for Ricky’s next work; the beautifully executed Rape-Com, Just Say No. Because if we don’t see the humour in rape, girls… we’re letting the rapists get away with it…