Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ricky Gervais at Hunter College

On November 3rd and 4th, Hunter College's Kaye Playhouse was host to one of England's funniest men, Mr. Ricky Gervais, who was using the setting to test material for his show at Carnegie Hall for the New York Comedy Festival. Prior to this show, the following was all I knew about Mr. Gervais: he's brilliantly funny and excels at what some would consider highly uncomfortable comedy. What I did not know about him was that even while being awkwardly uncomfortable, Mr. Gervais could also be obscene, raunchy, and, to some, slightly offensive.
While I was not offended by any of Mr. Gervais' off color humor, he seemingly felt that no topic was off limits or above ridicule. He made fun of fat people, religion, charities, holidays, being charitable at the holidays, and pedophilia, to name but a few of his targets. There may always be an air of the impish about his delivery, as though he were a child getting away with doing something naughty behind the adults' backs, but his delivery was straight forward and brash. It would appear that there is a sliver of David Brent at the core of Mr. Gervais' stage persona.
Perhaps my favorite bit of the night was when Mr. Gervais decided to take on religion via the tale of Noah and the ark. He was equipped with a children's book which looked like it was from the 1960's and a video screen. As he read the book aloud, the screen showed the pages of the book so the audience could see the illustrations. However, this was not direct story time at the Kaye. No, Mr. Gervais interjected constantly, noting contradictions and how the illustrations undercut the story. At one point, he showed how the ark was too small, according to the drawing, to house all the animals, as the giraffes took up almost the entire ark by themselves. In addition, he cried racism upon discovering that the raven lost his job to the dove after only one attempt to find land, while the dove was "given another go."
It was a thoroughly satisfying evening, and if the reaction of the Hunter crowd is any indication, his Carnegie Hall show should have been a success.

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