Ricky Gervais -- Concert Review

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No one specializes in outrageously bad taste quite as adorably as Ricky Gervais.

Even while spewing jokes that are the height of political incorrectness or constantly referring to his vast riches and fame, the baby-faced comedian manages to be utterly endearing, like a naughty child who knows he has gotten away with something and can't help but delight in it.

Performing at the Theater at Madison Square Garden as part of his current Out of England 2 tour, Gervais delivered a funny if shambling 75-minute set that clearly pleased his rabid fans.

After a short film featuring fellow comic Louis C.K. that set the bar for the outrageousness to follow, Gervais -- clad in his usual uniform of jeans and T-shirt and frequently indulging in generous swigs of lager -- engaged in mock tirades about subjects ranging from fat people (a perennial topic of his) to African famine to his fear of flying after 9/11.

Gervais often has made humorously self-deprecating comments about his propensity for laziness, and at times his performance did little to dispel that. He always is amusing, to be sure, but his lengthy routines --accompanied by slide show presentations -- devoted to deconstructions of a children's book about Noah's Ark and a scholarly tome about the prevalence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom seemed trivial and overly reminiscent of past bits. Even less relevant was his extended riff on the witticisms of Oscar Wilde, not exactly a burning topic of conversation these days.

He is far funnier when seemingly off the cuff, such as his simple, sotto voce comment, "I know it's wrong," after a tasteless joke about being supposedly sexually molested as a child, or his admission about leaving out certain types of material when performing in the flyover states: "I don't think comedy is worth dying for."

Gervais plays L.A. Live's Nokia Theater on Saturday and Sunday.

Venue: Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York (Wednesday, May 12)
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