10 Reasons why Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have made life more enjoyable
|LISTS - TV LISTS|
With their new sitcom - Life's Too Short (featuring Warwick Davis) - due to start tonight, Shadowlocked gives you ten reasons why Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have changed our lives for the better...
With expectation growing for the dynamic duos latest sitcom Life’s too short and the sequel to An Idiot Abroad, we get the chance to look at everything Gervais and Merchant have given the world. They have won countless awards, written amazing bits of work, caused plenty of controversy and introduced us to the bloke who ‘has a head like an orange’. Basically they have made the new millennium a funnier place without having to use a laugh track to back up the jokes.
10. The Golden Globes
One of the hardest parts of a Briton's career is to try and make a name for themselves in America. Not only has Ricky made a name for himself, but he has become one of the most talked about celebrities - for good and bad reasons - in recent years; especially at the most recent Golden Globes where he was the presenter.
After ruffling a few celebrity feathers at his first attempt, the infamous award ceremony invited Ricky back for a second attempt which we were all ecstatic about. Well, maybe the Americans weren’t. By the next morning, everyone in Britain was searching for all his hilarious clips on YouTube where he criticised the biggest names in the celebrity world, whilst in the US of A he was headlining the news, with discussion rife about the 'disrespect' he had apparently shown the untouchables of the acting world. We loved it - them not so much - but whatever you thought of it, it was great entertainment and sent a clear cut message... if you want something to be serious, don’t hire a comedian.
9. Ghost Town
It was Ricky’s first lead in a movie where he played a slightly rude but lovable character who could see Ghosts when no one else could. The tone was just a tad different to The Sixth Sense, as it went down the comedic route rather than the ‘scary as hell’ genre. Unsurprisingly, Gervais gave a confident performance - despite this being his first lead role in a movie - and Ghost Town was generally well received by critics as a result.
More importantly though, It was the first sign that he didn’t just have to write something to be involved - although by the look of it, it was his influence to the character that made the movie a worthwhile watch - and it's a great sign for Gervais fans worldwide...
8. Stephen Merchant Cameos
Oggy oggy oggy, oi oi oi - okay, enough of that now. Unlike his partner in crime, Stephen features predominantly 'behind the scenes' as it were. However, on occasions Mr. Merchant has been partial to the odd cameo or two and, while short, these are always snappy and memorable.
In the Office he appears as the Ogg Monster - or as Brent likes him to be known as the guy who’s parents decided to ‘grow us a big googly eyed monster’ - and it doesn't last long, but it's great nevertheless. His wife also gets on the wrong side of the youngsters in Cemetery Junction and his simple response of ‘bit rude’ shows why we love these cameo appearances. His best cameo though has to be where ‘Barry from Eastenders’ is attempting to rob his house in the Invention of Lying, and the exchange between the two is exactly what we missed when Extras finished.
7. The Invention of Lying
Whilst Ricky had already starred in Ghost Town, we all waited with great eagerness to see their movie writing debut, and just like anything they have ever wrote it was original, funny and heart warming. Gervais once again took the lead role with a number of great casts to fill the other slots, and it was in all a success.
As a basic concept, Gervais’ character is the first person in the world to lie and is the only person who understands how to do it, meaning he can become rich, get women and make up the greatest stories of all time. However, it’s the morality of the movie that grips you as we see the protagonist question whether lying is right and if so, does it count?
A movie that keeps you guessing until the end and debating long after, Gervais and Merchant should be proud of their achievements. In terms of connecting with the movie, to describe it would be a really good watch where the main character is short, fat with a pug nose, as he attempts to seduce a female who is stunning and out of his league, and that’s honesty.
6. Stand Up
Stephen is currently undergoing a stand up tour of the country which he described as a way to find a girlfriend, but it's Ricky’s massive tours that will be going down in history. Never shy to make a joke, Ricky decides to take it out on fat people, celebrities, fat celebrities (Dawn French should avoid watching Fame), dwarves and himself; whilst avoiding any jokes about fundamental terrorists’ due to repercussions. Every tour is energetic (even during his rotund days) - and each improves on its predecessors - but the underlying brilliance of the gigs are that Ricky was never a stand up comedian. He didn’t do the grungy clubs and have drinks thrown at him, he was literally just a funny man and all doubts of his stand up ability were thrown out the window (quicker than Jordan’s singing career) when the World was introduced to Animals.
From there, the only way was up...
Extras always had a lot of expectation to live up to following the success of The Office, and it would have been easy to follow that format due to how much the public loved it, but Merchant and Gervais went for a darker comedy that could have brought Satan to tears. It wasn’t just the dark moments that were brilliant though; the relationship between 'Barry' (see Eastenders) and Merchant - Andy Milman’s agents - was nothing short of sublime.
They are arguably the worst agents in the world as Milman (played by gervais) searched for an acting career, but had to settle for mostly being an extra to an amazing cast of high profile actors who weren’t afraid to ridicule themselves. Everyone from Les Dennis to Orlando Bloom came flocking, and the Merchant-Gervais pull continued to grow.
There’s no second season syndrome here though as Milman moves up in the acting world and gets his own sitcom named ‘When the Whistle Blows’, or as his agent refers to as a ‘Sh#tcom’. His life changes dramatically after this and as a result the audience become more involved with the characters. Moreso, we get to witness the demons that he and his best friend Maggie have to face with this newly found stardom.
Overall, it was another amazing sitcom from the two, and even though it did not get the same attention as its predecessors, it's still a remarkable addition to the world of comedy.
4. An Idiot Abroad
At the moment it seems even Gervais and Merchant have had to take a step back, and this is due to one man...Karl Pilkington. Mr. Pilkington was originally introduced to the world through the record breaking podcasts by the trio. They met him as a producer one day and were fascinated by his outlook on life, whilst simultaneously being amazed by the roundness of his head.
Therefore logically Gervais sends him on the most expensive practical joke of all time, shipping him round the world to see its 'Seven Wonders' knowing full well that he will hate every minute. Funny enough, it's these reactions that helped create the most successful debut to any programme in Sky one history, and a second season has even begun already. It’s fair to say Karl struggles and moans with a lot of the areas he is sent to but, to be fair to the guy, it isn’t exactly five star hotels and gourmet cuisine.
Karl may only have a couple of entries on this list but give it five years and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a top 10 of Karl Pilkington moments. An Idiot Abroad is a fantastic watch and it shows that you don’t just need Gervais and Merchant in it to make a great show.
3. Cemetery Junction
Be Young. Be Free. Be Somebody. A confident début to the British movie market, as Gervais and Merchant move away from the realm of comedy and give us a movie that involves love, passion and dreams.
Merchant cameos and Gervais play’s a small role, but it’s the protagonists that really create a timeless hit. One of the lads is good looking and level headed; another is as cool and stylish as a young John Lennon; and the other is a bit of a dope - but lovable nonetheless - and the interaction between the three is extremely relatable as well as the rest of the story.
There’s one main love story and loads of other side plots that are just as gripping as each other, as we see three young lads grow up battling love, trouble and reality, and it's truly an inspirational movie about going out and grabbing the life you want. The soundtrack is also worth the price alone as we see Elvis, Elton and Bowie all contributing songs to the coolest sound track in recent history.
2 The Ricky Gervais Show
The Podcasts were record breaking and the animated version has possibly made the best programme on TV today, and yet all was created by three guys sitting around a table with no scripts. The main section of the programme is Ricky and Stephen talking to Mr Karl Pilkington about his views on life and certain questions that arise from each other or the fans. Now, I'm not sure how they do it, but each show leaves you laughing so hard that breathing becomes troublesome.
Furthermore, the animation is beautifully brilliant as it creates a new dimension to the characters and what they are talking about. Even Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane stated that it was ‘the best animation out there’ which, coming from MacFarlane himself, is one hell of a compliment.
Karl’s blank expression; Ricky’s weight problem and Stephen’s unusual lanky look all get the exaggerated treatment, delivering a number of fantastic scenes that mark an improvement on the already hilarious podcasts. There has already been two series on the box and thankfully a third has been commissioned, so we can look forward to getting to know the 'real' Pilkington all over again. Amongst others, we can look forward too: Pilkington’s Plumbers, a new game show called Look What We Can Do With Science (that involves removing as many organs as you can do before you die); learning about the amazing minds of monkeys; or why there could be a dish washer on Mars.
Unusual? Yes... but Karl always finds a way to justify it whilst angering Gervais at all costs.
1. The Office
The most successful and revolutionary comedy of all time (Ed: I'm sure Black Adder, Fawlty Towers or Dad's Army would have something to say about that!), as Gervais and Merchant’s career really begins; although the latter did have a stint on a retro corny quiz show looking very handsome indeed. The Office simply took the UK - and subsequently the world - by storm, as its unusual filming techniques and lack of laughs differentiated it from previous sitcoms. Many were confused as to whether it was a documentary or a comedy but, after some great reviews and word of mouth, it became the biggest programme on TV and received countless awards around the world (look out for the acceptance speeches).
The Office isn’t just about Brent though. There are numerous other sub-plots that involve hiding staplers in jelly or trying to win over the receptionist when you are terrible with women. McKenzie Crook puts in a nerdy and irritating performance as Gareth, but you can’t help love the guy - he may speak a load of trout, but watching him try to implement his office hard man status is worth it (if you know what he looks like you'll know this isn't possible).
Finally there is the new Ross and Rachel, or as we know them Tim and Dawn, who try so hard to distance their relationships due to co-worker involvement, but all we want them to do is kiss and fall in love (the power of good writing). The Slough paper industry may not be the most successful company in the world but it's certainly the most dysfunctional; and this is why we loved it.
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