Sunday, May 31, 2009

Out of England The Stand-Up Special: Grade A

Out of England The Stand-Up Special (2008)
Ricky Gervais. Director John Moffitt

Gervais is the very talented writer, director and star of the original BBC The Office television series. I was not aware that he also did standup. This is his first HBO standup comedy special and it is a home run for those who enjoy British humor. His genius is in convincing you that he is telling you a story he just thought of. You know it takes weeks and months of very difficult work to get 90 minutes of material, but he makes it seem spontaneous. He does great facial acting, embarrassed giggles, and convincing self-interruptions to suggest that he is just making it up as he goes along, which is of course far from the truth. His best material tends to the intellectual, where he deconstructs ridiculous advertisements, pamphlets or child-rearing practices. I also loved his animal jokes, in which he seduces you into imagining animals having fantastic conversations. One of my favorite bits was on the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. Note to parents: if your surname is Dumpty, don’t name your offspring Humpty. He’s already an egg anyway, isn’t he, and that’s bad enough. I was less amused by his crude sodomy and masturbation jokes, but it is his job to provide laughs for all levels of humor. His riff on obesity as a disease was misinformed and not funny for that. But he did have some great bits on the holocaust and on cancer patients, if you can imagine. Overall, I was delighted.

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