I’m a stickler for comedy, in all it’s forms-stand-up, sitcom, filmic, theatre, novels and whathaveyou. I can’t get enough of how these talented wits can eke out what we do wrong and what we think is ‘right’ but ends up looking downright silly or plain stupid.
Now, I’ve watched most of the work by Ricky Gervais, who has contributed greatly to British popular culture, in recent years. Be it, TV films, podcasts, books and stand-up tours, this bloke has done it all…and I’m sure has still a lot to give us.
I believe it’s his inherent philosophical perspective, which he gets his characters to reflect, in such a seemingly simple way, that has struck chords in the hearts of his audiences globally.
I cannot help but notice the recurrent, or should I say, central theme on which his oeuvre is based on- i.e. dysfunctional elements in so-called ‘normal’ folk!
Gervais uses the camera to zoom into the weirdness that makes up our ordinary lives, things which we usually cringe about and feel embarrassed about. He also makes the camera pan (sometimes, suddenly, as if to jolt us up) and get us to see something which we otherwise wouldn’t have noticed or acknowledged-and then laugh about it!
It’s as if he gets the camera to do much of the talking, as if the camera is telling us “Oi, look you lot…this is what we do! Ain’t it funny!” Gervais likes to put silence to good use too, his actors emote and express much more and only use dialogue when Gervais wants them to make a point in bold!
That’s probably why there are some who don’t quite get his brand of comedy. Indeed, one would need to keep his/her brain switched on to watch and take in the sort of humour he portrays; to mull over afterwards.
It’s as if Gervais wants you to debate about (whether with others, or to yourself) what he has to say; to really question yourself on what really matters- and what doesn’t-in the lives we are leading/living today.
With his previous work, he has taken a more flippant and haha-that’s-soooo-funny! approach, but his more recent work – a television programme, called Derek – is subtle, very sensitive and sweet in nature. Something that has astonished me and even made me shed some tears of appreciation when I watched it the first time.
Derek and Hannah are beautiful characters because they have something which stand them out from the rest; they have pure souls carefully brought out through Gervais’s inimitable narrative, stoic stance and rational approach.
“For me, insanity is super sanity.
The normal is psychotic.
Normal means lack of imagination, lack of creativity.”
– Jean Dubuffet
I honestly don’t see why most of the British press created a vendetta against Derek, which is just another TV programme, only it is full of thought-provoking messages.
In a recent press meet, Gervais said: “Everything I’ve done has polarised people, but I wouldn’t have it any other way…I hope that watching Derek might help viewers reassess their attitude to older people.”
I’m appalled to deduce that they have chosen to instigate people’s viewpoints (and therefore jazzing up their readership figures) using Gervais’s brand/auteurship.
Anyways, no offence to anyone concerned here – it’s just fair comment, after all. 🙂
Here are some quotes from the main cast to help you see why I love this programme so much:-
Quotes from Derek:
“I love working here, but I’m always sad.”
“Is he handicapped?’ asks the council inspector
– “Yeah. He’s too kind for his own good,” says Hannah.
“If I am ’tistic [autistic], will I die?” asks Derek
– “No,” he’s told.
” So will that change me in any way? Would I be the same person?” he asks.
-“Yes,” reassures Hannah.
“Don’t worry about it then” says Derek to the council inspector.
“I loves it here…all my favouritest people are here.”
“Egg with sideburns”-description of Dougie’s hairstyle.
“He [Derek] is a better person than the rest of us.”
Quotes from Hannah:-
“She has five bedrooms-but no space for her mother.”
“I’ve never understood budgets when it comes to things like this. It costs what it costs. If it costs more than some person in a suit thought it would, it doesn’t mean we’ve overspent or anything, it means your stupid guess was wrong”.
Quotes from Dougie:-
“From the moment you’re born…from the moment your head pops out, someone gives you a slap! Y’know, to make you cry.”
“And that’s it, innit. For the next 70 or 80 years, that’s what life is. Someone giving you a slapping and a load of crying.”
“What I find fascinating is how it’s [his hairstyle] never come to fashion, when you think of the things that have come and gone.”
“You’re like a f**king magpie coming in here getting anything that’s shiny. You didn’t give a s**t about your mam; it’s been Hannah who’s been looking after here all this time!”
“Oh, you’ve been busy? Well, it doesn’t matter anymore does it? Your mam’s dead!”
Do ya see what I mean?!
Gervais gives us heaps to think about here – whether we like it or not!
All episodes of Derek are available to view on Netflix worldwide.