Ricky Gervais on Humor: "There's Nothing Funnier Than Real Life"
"It's my favorite thing, making the ordinary extraordinary. I think that resonates more, and then the funny is sort of easy."
"Real life is obviously the biggest influence on me," Ricky Gervais told The Hollywood Reporter during the comedy actor roundtable. "I try to write about what I know, I've always done that."
"It's my favorite thing, making the ordinary extraordinary. I think that resonates more, and then the funny is sort of easy." Gervais talks about developing his iconic characters, first David Brent of The Office and now the title character of Derek. "A normal person trying to do something big, and they're not equipped," Gervais notes as the funniest thing. "Not being ready or equipped is so funny, and with that, arrogance. Arrogance and stupidity, thinking it's OK."
"You're either laughing with them or at them, that's the thing." But there's a noted difference between his past character and the current one. "You laughed at David Brent [because] he had the blind spot. It was the difference between how he saw himself and how we saw him, whereas with Derek you're sort of on [his] side. He's saying funny things and they're meant to be funny."
"There's nothing funnier than real life," Gervais says. "It's euphoric. It just feels great. That's my inspiration, really."
He opens up about when he first discovered he was funny, and how deeply comedy influenced his life. "[At age] 5 [or] 6, I realized it felt good to laugh and make people laugh, and that was very important for me growing up. I was always attracted to funny people before anything else. And I sort of kept that, really."
"The first time I understood it was people doing it for my pleasure was Laurel and Hardy, and I still think it began and ended with them. It wasn't just the jokes or the lines or the craft. It was the fact that I sort of loved them, and I wanted to be their friend."
Gervais joined fellow comedians Thomas Middleditch (Silicon Valley), Jordan Peele (Key & Peele), Will Forte (The Last Man on Earth), Fred Armisen (Portlandia), and Don Cheadle (House of Lies) at the roundtable, where they discussed how they developed their humor and how they use it today.
The full Comedy Actor Emmy Roundtable can be seen on Close Up With The Hollywood Reporter when it premieres on Sunday, Aug. 23, at 11 a.m. ET/PT on Sundance TV and HollywoodReporter.com.
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