Just for creating The Office, his comedy-god status can never be revoked—and his career has only mushroomed since. But the bigger Ricky Gervais gets, the harder it’s becoming to tell if he’s still sending up rich, self-important celebrities or turning into one. (In his forthcoming Netflix comedy, he plays an uplifting simpleton. Yikes.) Gervais, for his part, says not to worry. He’s still the same run-of-the-mill comic genius he’s always been:
GQ: Last night you tweeted “Hope you enjoy my stand-up. If you don’t please let me know because I don’t give a fuck.”
Ricky Gervais: Yeah. We’d been out to dinner, and I’d just got back. It was because I was getting loads of tweets that Science was on TV, and everybody was tweeting me lovely things, so instead of going, “Oh, thank you so much, I really appreciate it,” I thought it was more in character. My stand-up persona of not giving a fuck. I was going along with the persona of the comedian that says the unsayable. Which isn’t true. Comedians who say the unsayable don’t usually get TV specials. I’m very considered. I can justify every joke I’ve ever made, really.
GQ: You once went on a British chat show and when the host noted that you were looking newly fit and trim and asked how come, you replied, “AIDS.”
Ricky Gervais: The joke there is that it was small talk. If that was the answer, I wouldn’t have said it. But what’s wrong with it? How would people be offended?
GQ: Well, to joke about a disease that is killing loads of people…
Ricky Gervais: I do that all the time! I do it all the time. If you can’t joke about the most horrendous things in the world, what’s the point of jokes? What’s the point in having humor? Humor is to get us over terrible things. That’s all it’s for. That’s why you should laugh at funerals. Of course it’s the wrong thing to say. That’s why it’s funny.
The SNL mainstay and star of Movie 43 offered GQ some pointed love advice:
For Valentine’s Day, could you give our readers some tips on how to land a fiancée like Olivia Wilde?
Oh boy. First off, when she’s speaking, keep your eyes open. Also say “please” and “thank you”—that was very helpful. And most important: Just mean what you say and say what you mean.
That’s very genuine. Recently, Olivia joked that you guys had sex like Kenyan marathon runners. So you guys wear short shorts and numbers on your backs?
Yep, and we have a guy who gives us little cups of water. To be honest, she was misquoted. If there’s any legitimacy in entertainment journalism, I’d be remiss if I didn’t correct it: The actual quote was “We fuck like Kenyan marathon runners.”
Oh, sorry. Yes. Totally different.
Things get lost in the translation. But everything after, from the word sex on, is accurate. When we’re both done, we tear through a little piece of tape. And you gotta put Band-Aids on your nipples, otherwise you’re really raw.
Is the reigning king of comedy jumping from the silver screen to…Broadway? Amy Wallace sits down with Judd Apatow and hears all about his (surprisingly mature) plans for the future.
Now, as the cameras roll, Fox and Mann chitchat with the hockey studs while Apatow calls out funny lines for them to say, many of which are being scribbled on Post-it notes by a circle of women who sit around him in director’s chairs: Annie Mumolo, who co-wrote Bridesmaids, Paula Pell of Saturday Night Live, and Jenni Konner, who co-produces Girls. When it is discovered that one of the players has fake front teeth (and can remove them), Apatow yells out, “Do you miss your teeth?”—and Fox spits the line right back.
Though Rudd and Mann are reprising the roles, Pete and Debbie, that they played in Knocked Up, This Is 40 isn’t a sequel exactly. It’s more like a spin-off—”like Rhoda off of Mary Tyler Moore,” Apatow says—in that it drops back in on the lives of two characters who played supporting roles in the first film. Ask Apatow why he has returned to familiar territory, and he says, “I want to do the sequel of all of the movies I’ve made. Why wouldn’t you do ten Superbads? Forget another one. I’d follow those guys every year for the rest of their lives.”
In August Notaro delivered an off-the-cuff standup set about being diagnosed with breast cancer just days earlier, that earned instant praise from comedy bigwigs Louis CK and Ed Helms, who were at the show that night. (Their tweets: here and here.) Below an excerpt of our interview with her:
GQ: Were you ever mad at the universe or fate or God, or whatever?
Tig Notaro: No. No. Not in the slightest.
GQ: How did you manage that?
Tig Notaro: I’ve had an embarrassingly amazing life. Not that I was prepared to die, but I just thought of all the people that have suffered for their entire life—and then die. I’ve traveled the world, and been in love, and my career has exceeded my expectations. I didn’t feel angry, because I have nothing to be angry about—it just happened. Anger just didn’t make sense to me.
GQ’s Lauren Bans explains why gay characters don’t give you a free pass on racist jokes:
The latest example comes courtesy of Glee-master Ryan Murphy’s new NBC comedy The New Normal. The show’s leading gay couple Bryan and David (Bonus points: David is a doctor. Who likes football. And doesn’t speak in jazz hands. En garde, Will & Grace-era mellifluous homotyping!) are in search of the perfect surrogate. All seems well and fine, except for the sitcom also features an “Oh no you did-eeent” black secretary who steals her boss’s credit card. And an Asian mistress nicknamed, uh, “Hello Kitty.” Plus a slew of jokes centered on the idea that lady genitals are more disgusting than a Van Halen tour bus toilet. (At one point, Bryan, just imagining a vagina, whines, “Ewwww, they look like tarantulas!”) Weirdly enough, the same dynamic exists on the new CBS sitcom Partners. There’s a leading gay couple, and this time a Latina receptionist who they “found on a subway platform” and who threatens to “cut” them every half second. We’re calling it gaycism: the wrongheaded idea that having gay characters gives you carte blanche to cut PC corners elsewhere. Take Modern Family, the familiar but funny ABC darling that modernly features a gay couple with an adopted Asian daughter, and not-so-modernly grounds about half its humor on Gloria’s (Sofia Vergaga) Taco Bell chihuahua Spanglish, with nary a reflexive gasp from critics. (Please take a moment to imagine if Two and a Half Men featured a bombshell Colombian who mispronounces everything. There’d be critics calling for Chuck Lorre’s proverbial half man to be proverbially cut off.)
Full essay here.