As with any popular existence, he is subject to the normal animosity imposed by the group who are at present too cool to be a fan of a well-liked figure. Anyway, he’s got a DVD/Blu-Ray coming out of that Invention of Lying film he did, so to publicise it he gave a small number of interviews. One of them was with us, yay!
We also gave him the opportunity to plug lots of other things – see if you can spot them.
Hecklerspray: ?So how’s your day gone so far, generally?
Ricky Gervais: (sighs) What do you want me to say?
H: Well… be honest.
RG: It’s a chore, it’s a chore (laughs).
H: Yeah? I imagine it would be.
RG: Why can’t people just watch the films and buy my DVDs and tickets without me having to do anything at all towards it? You know what I mean?
H: And why don’t celebrities want to have a chat with me without wanting to plug a product?
RG: I know – yeah exactly. We should just hang out and see if we get on before we try and plug my product.
H: And then maybe I’d suggest to people that they should watch the Invention of Lying
RG: It’s not even guaranteed, either. ’cause it’s not like I go “OK I’ll give you an interview but you’ve got to say nice things about it.” We could have an interview, I could be moaning and you could say, ‘not only is he a whinging f*cker but his film’s shit.’ It’s not even a guarantee.
H: The thing is, all the work is pretty much over for you after today. I’ve still got to review your DVD.
RG: Well don’t make it sound like such a chore, now I know what it sounds like, it’s terrible – whinging. Just get on with it; we’ve all got problems – Jesus Christ.
H: Alright, so you’ve got the Invention of Lying DVD coming out.
RG: (laughs) Thank you.
H: That’s out there now. The DVD menu, I’m not sure if you’ve looked at it, it’s probably the same as the cover [in appearance]. I haven’t seen the retail cover over here yet.
H: They’ve done something to your face.
RG: Oh, airbrushing?
H: Yeah! Everyone’s basically whiter, but you…
RG: Not only is it airbrushed, but it looks like I’ve had reconstructive surgery.
H: I think… yeah…
RG: You know how it looks when they find a bit of a skull? And then they build the thing and they say this is what man would have looked like 5,000 years ago? It’s like that isn’t it?
H: So it’s an approximation of what you look like?
RG: (laughing) Exactly, yeah. It’s an approximation of what a British film star looked like in the year 2009.
H: Sort of stretched…
RG: Yeah, stretched, yeah. A little bit wide, yeah. A little less fat at least, which is good.
H: That’s true, the stretching does help.
RG: Yeah, exactly.?It looks like I lost my eyebrows and I had to repaint them on like those old ladies do.
H: I didn’t spot that actually, I must admit.
RG: Yeah have a look at it – they sort of look light and fluffy.
H: I did enjoy the menu on the whole, mainly just because of that. So even if you don’t like the film…
RG: The thing is, they’ve airbrushed Louis C.K. and he still looks like a big fat ginger slob
H: But I didn’t think Louis, Jennifer or Rob looked that different to be honest, just a bit more ghost-like
RG: You don’t have to do a lot to Rob Lowe, he’s got the most chiselled… it’s ridiculous! He looks like an Action Man up close – his chin goes to a point
H: But what sort of utility does that have? Really? Apart from, I dunno…?
RG: Popping balloons at a kid’s party
H: I suppose maybe you could put cheese and pineapple on it, I don’t know.
RG: (laughs) Yeah, yeah.
H: So the concept of The Invention of Lying, where do you draw the line of what’s a lie? Because obviously you’d decided there’s no movies, or fiction in that respect. But then at the other end of the spectrum, everyone seems to say exactly what they’re thinking even maybe when it’s not necessary…
RG: Err, well yeah, that was obviously… yeah. I mean, it’s a house of cards; if you look into it too much it’s gonna be impossible. The joke was, that everything is exactly the same, except no-one can tell a lie. Not only do they not know how to tell a lie, but they’ve almost got a Tourette’s. The comedy comes from just saying what’s on your mind as opposed to being able to keep it back, and obviously that’s the fun in it. They still wear shirts and ties and have buttons and zips and cars and radio, so that’s the sort of joke. It’s sort of like a Flintstones-esque world where everything’s the same but made of concrete.
H: Well I liked the film, I’ll say that now to put you at ease.
RG: Oh thank you. I liked the film as well.
RG: I liked the idea, I thought that was nice. I like the fact that it’s probably one of the most subversive films in Hollywood because it was described as a Hollywood rom-com, which I like.
H: Yeah, well my especially favourite parts were the way it was written and directed. They are my two favourite bits.
RG: Well you’re saying all the right things.?What do you think of that lead actor, though? He was good as well wasn’t he?
H: The one who played Mark Bellison?
RG: Yeah, yeah – him.
H: He was alright, yeah.
RG: (laughs) They were my favourite bits as well, how it was written and directed.
H: With [regard to] the old acting business, how do you deal with the sincere scenes? I really struggle to imagine you being sincere in any sort of situation whatsoever.
RG: I think sooner or later you have to leave irony behind sometimes. In The Office there was a shift from a stupid putz who you laughed at, to someone you realised had feelings. The Christmas special moved to a complete drama by the end. Cemetery Junction is only drama, we’ve left all veil of irony behind. Myself and Steve [Merchant] have built our careers on laughing at things because they’re uncool; people being uncool, thinking they’re cool and that being funny. Whereas with Cemetery Junction the people are cool. They’re young and cool and they do things you get behind and go “that’s cool.” It’s like Saturday Night Fever, even though it was a man going nowhere working in a paint shop and living for Saturday nights – no-one watched it and went, “oh I get it, we’re meant to be laughing at him because his life’s going nowhere.” You watched it and went, “fuck me, he’s cool.” That’s the way we’ve gone with Cemetery Junction, there’s still social comment, there’s still a bit of tragedy. But if people think they’re gonna go and see a knockabout comedy from two blokes off the telly, they’re hopefully going to be disappointed.
H: So Cemetery Junction and Flanimals – your next two big projects.
RG: (laughs) Flanimals is the other end of the scale, which is only meant to be funny.
H: When is Cemetery Junction going to be…?
RG: I think, 13th April in the UK.
H: Really? That’s actually quite soon.
RG: The UK are getting it first, for the first time ever (laughs).
H: We’re getting the DVD of The Invention of Lying a few days later aren’t we?
RG: Well everything’s later. They’re getting The Ricky Gervais Show a month after HBO, Ghost Town… oh that was released the same day in the end ’cause I insisted. ’cause [it was going to be] a week later in England, we pushed back the American date so they both came out on 2nd October. This one is definitely ‘Out of England‘, which is the name of my American Tour (chuckles).
H: Oh yes, the American tour. Sell out is it?
RG: Yeah, I’m doing a couple of nights at Madison Square Gardens and a couple of nights at Nokia. At Wembley the first two days went, sold out, in about half an hour so I’ve put another date on. I can’t do too many.
H: [Confirming] Extra dates at Wembley Arena. You don’t want to miss nights in your pyjamas do you?
RG: No I know; everything’s a chore for me. I dunno why I do these things – I put these things out there and I get excited, and then I think, “oh fucking hell I’ve got a gig tonight.” “What are you doing?” “Oh, fucking Golden Globes.”
H: You’re basically a martyr.
RG: Yeah, exactly. And I don’t get paid for any of it.
H: Suicide bombers, in comparison, have it easy. They only have to do it once.
RG: That’s true, they don’t have to get up the next day do they?
H: (laughing) No… well… I better skip onto the Twitter questions ’cause I think we’re running out of time, ’cause I know you like Twitter. It’s funny how the media seemed to jump onto the fact that you leaving is now a backlash against Twitter.
RG: I love that! All I did… I mean I didn’t even know they were listening. I think I did two twitters was it? Or three?
H: I don’t know, I only heard about it after you left.
RG: I think I did two twitters, one was saying “Hi, they want me to tweet – I’m just testing it.” The second one was something like, “I went for a run.” The third one was, “I’m quitting Twitter because I don’t see the point.” It’s nothing against Twitter, I think it makes sense for young folk, the social networking and having a hobby. For someone in my position it was slightly undignified, it was getting close to living your life like an open wound. As far as celebrities chatting to each other in public, it’s like showing off.
H: It does mean that you’re now in the same exclusive club as Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter.
RG: What happened there?
H: Well she… I dunno… she was a big user and then she left, so now you’re featured in articles alongside her.
RG: I think you’ll find that the biggest proportion of the world don’t Twitter, so I’m in a not very exclusive club. I think you’ll probably find that 5.5 billion people don’t Twitter (laughs).
H: They don’t matter though, that’s the thing.
RG: Well OK yeah, I suppose the subset is people who did Twitter once now don’t any more.
H: Well there you go.
RG: I don’t know how many people of those there are, but I’m in that club yeah.
H: Maybe just two or three.
RG: What if I Twitter again? Then I’ll be in the club of people that don’t Twitter, do Twitter, don’t Twitter, DO Twitter. So now I’m really narrowing down the amount of people who’ve done that. So I might do one Twitter saying, “I’m Twittering again.” Then another one going, “No, only joking.”
H: Well, we’re transcending many levels of reality here.
RG: That’ll probably just be me in that club then.
H: Well if you do it enough times, yeah.
H: The first question I got was, [@the28wall] “Can we expect any more audiobooks and podcasts from you and the lads any time soon?”
RG: Err, yes, there’s one out today.
H: Yeah, to be honest I knew the answer.
RG: Oh, you were setting me up for a plug.
H: No. Well, yes, basically. That was an actual question though.
RG: That’s the last one for a long time, that’s number 10 of our ‘Guides to‘. The Guide to the Human Body. Oh no! The last one is in a month’s time, and that’s The Guide to the Earth. This is number 9, and number 10 will be the last one for a while.
H: There’s a question from David Schneider, he says, [@davidschneider] “Can I have some of your money?”
H: That’s David Schneider the comedian.
RG: Yes he can. But in a very roundabout way.
H: How would he…?
RG: Well because I donate 40% of all my money to the Inland Revenue, and they go towards building roads and hospitals and the police force. So if he ever calls a policeman to come round, then in a way, I’ve paid for a bit of that.
H: You’ve not started to keep your money offshore to avoid that sort of thing then?
H: That’s good of you, you’re giving something back.
RG: I’ve buried it all and bought a gun.
H: Are you going to guard that every night?
RG: Exactly, yeah
H: There’s another one, this says, [@delphatic] “Would you think of producing something like The 11 O’Clock Show so you could help other fledgling comedians make a break?”
RG: I probably wouldn’t, but you never know. Myself and Stephen are doing a bit of extra-curricular talent spotting and executive producing. We’re sending Karl [Pilkington] around the world at the moment for a programme for Sky 1 called Seven Wonders, we’re behind the scenes on that. We’re also developing a new show with Warwick Davis called Life’s Too Short.
H: Very clever title.
RG: Yeah, which is fantastic. So yeah, I suppose we’re being a bit Simon Cowell on the side, and we do it with American Office as well. That’s purely a sort of production/business mogul type venture. So yeah, it’s not out of the question.
H: OK, this is a question from Richard Herring (the comedian).
RG: It’s not really – this is not really from Dave Schneider and Richard Herring?
H: Oh yeah – they’re on Twitter. That’s the genius you see.
RG: Oh alright, OK.
H: Richard Herring says, [@Herring1967] “Can I have a million pounds please?”
RG: (laughs) Erm… err… oh dear… oh dear…Well, I think the honest answer is “no”, and the dishonest answer is “yes”.
H: Right, OK, that’s fair enough.
RG: I’ve covered my bases I think there.
H: [Agreeing] So you’ve got everything. The last question is from Dom Joly who says, [@domjoly] “Can you lend me some money?” There seems to be a theme here.
RG: There seems to be a theme here of other comedians pointing out that I’m richer than them, and I think implicit in that, is that I don’t deserve it (laughs).
H: Do you think they begrudge you? Is that what you’re saying?
RG: Well they’re all very funny, and thank them very much for their questions. They’re all rich! Don’t believe the hype! They’re all rich.
H: Richard Herring stays in Travel Inns.
RG: They’re rolling in it. They’re trying to keep their street cred – I lost mine. I lost mine ages ago. But then I had it more than them for the first 36 years of my life (laughs).
H: So you think it’s levelling out now?
RG: Yeah, exactly. My poverty was extensive, so over the years I reckon they’re richer than me; if it’s in how much money you’ve had divided by the number of years you’ve lived.
H: I accept that, that’s good maths. I think that’ll do.
The Invention of Lying is released on Blu-Ray and DVD on 1st February