Ricky Gervais, Derek & Clive and Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

Filed Under Records, Sitcom

Chicago’s Stop Smiling magazine has a fantastic interview with Ricky Gervais in its UK issue. Fortunately, you can read the interview on Ricky Gervais’ own site.

Some of the treasures to be found are Gervais’ more British influences. And as someone who consider himself “a cult comedian who got more famous than he should have,” there’s a lot of material there. The most curious to me was Derek and Clive, the alter egos that Dudley Moore and Peter Cook took for a series of recordings in the 1970s that started as an incredibly filthy private joke that became so widely bootlegged that they actually ended up releasing them (Gervais mentions bootlegging them himself). According to the wikipedia entry on the pair the recording of Ad Nauseam features a rant about the death of Peter Cook’s father from cancer delivered with full knowledge that Dudley Moore’s father was dying of cancer. I’m intensely curious and can’t wait to hear them. Sadly the first Derek and Clive Live (Gervais’ favorite comedy album) doesn’t seem to be available over Amazon so you’ll have to be a Acquisition-enabled Gervais to get it.

The second point of interest to me was Gervais’ intention to never do the wonderful series concluding The Office Special. His gateway to creating the special was to acknowledge the reality that there was a documentary crew filming the characters and proceeding from there (leading to David Brent as Austin Powers at a pub appearance, something that will crush any wayward desires to ever yell “Yea Baby!” again). It specifically made me think about the American Office and how, if ever, they should address the camera’s effects on the employees of Dunder Mifflin. If you keep to the reality of it being a serialized documentary, the season ending kiss with Pam and Jim should certainly affect Pam’s impending wedding. As the characters begin to acknowledge the cameras with glances and occasional short conversations more and more, it might be a question they have to deal with. I’d hate to see the show become about reality entertainment however (though Steve Carell’s Michael Scott’s willingness to extend his fame might be hysterical to watch). It may be one of those things best swept under the carpet, particularly because once you open that particular box, you have to keep on dealing with it. But since Gervais used it so brilliantly I wonder how Executive Producer Greg Daniels and crew could handle it.

(BTW, you should really pick up Stop Smiling anyway. It’s a great mag and if you’re a Withnail and I fan, there’s an interview with Bruce Robinson as well.)

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Posted by Jack on 08/17  at  02:55 AM

With regards to “The Office”, I think Ricky Gervais might just be overthinking the concept.  The second you start to realize that the camera exists in the U.S. version of “The Office”, the show makes no sense at all. The shots and framing make no sense, and the lack of visceral acknowledgement of the camera crew makes no sense.  Anyone see any gaffers running around Dunder-Mifflin?

So I think the conceit that it’s a “documentary” is acceptable.  But it’s not so fully fleshed out that one would think “Hey, why aren’t they mugging for the camera more…”  What I find great about “The Office” is how the idea of the documentary explains the framing, but beyond that… Who cares?

To me it all plays out more like a “fly on the wall” situation rather than a true documenatry being filmed.

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