Five Absolutely, Positively Non-Essential Ricky Gervais Performances
You think you know Ricky Gervais? The obnoxious David Brent of The Office, the sadsack Andy Millman from Extras, the you-can’t-fire-me-I-already-rented-the-tuxedo host of the Golden Globes? Ho-hum. If you really want to impress your friends, trot out your inexplicable knowledge of these absolutely, positively non-essential Ricky Gervais performances at your next holiday gathering. You’ll be the Dean of Arcane Gervais Knowledge!
Bouncer in Dog Eat Dog
Dog Eat Dog just might be the best “guy kidnaps a dog so he can realize his dream of becoming a club DJ” movie ever made. If not, it’s certainly the best one Ricky Gervais has ever been in.
One of the few credits on his IMDb page before Gervais made it big as David Brent, Bouncer represents quite the acting stretch as guys working the door are generally big, strapping lads capable of handling themselves in a physical fight. Despite his diminutive, dumpy stature, Gervais works his guest-list clipboard with authority, letting the movie’s stars know they’re not getting in the club. Next!
Here’s the whole dang movie, but Bouncer appears at the 5:32 mark if you want to catch the good part. (Gervais is done by 5:45.)
David Brent in The Office U.K.: Microsoft U.K. Training with David Brent
In the States, users were introduced to new Microsoft products by the cast of Friends. Could Windows be any easier to use?
Lame! In the U.K., Microsoft hired a real management icon, David Brent (with the help of old friend Stephen Merchant) to train its own employees in the art of business values. It’s one thing to see Gervais play Brent for our entertainment, but he really cranks it up a notch in the service of the world’s largest seller of business productivity software. And that’s a good thing since someone like Bill Gates couldn’t be bothered to deliver the message to his great unwashed employees. “Sir William,” says Brent, didn’t make his millions “by spending time in meetings with idiots. I bet no one watching this has ever spoken to him. It would be easier to speak to Osama bin Laden.”
But here’s the thing: These videos are top secret! Gervais and Merchant only agreed to produce them on the provision that they would never be made public. We’ll share the goods here with you, but you have to promise not to let Gervais know where you saw it.
Ricky Gervais in Grand Theft Auto 4
Hard to believe but Gervais almost turned down a chance to do cyber stand-up in Liberty City. “Well, they called up my agent, and like (I say for) most things, I went, ‘Nahhh,’” Gervais told MTV News. “And then they said, ‘Are you mad? This is the biggest thing in the world. You’re crazy.’”
He immediately signed on the dotted line and squeezed himself into one of those green bodysuits covered in ping-pong balls to make his virtual comedy debut. As for his subject material? Gervais goes all in on fat jokes (among the first of many troll moves that would unfortunately follow). “I suppose it had to be sort of quite out there,” he reasoned. “It’s not prime-time TV, so I chose some of the more offensive bits.”
If you’re offended? We’re pretty sure you can run over virtual Gervais in a stolen police car. (Now what to do about his bad, transphobic tweets and jokes is a whole ’nother matter.)
Dominic Badguy in Muppets Most Wanted
Muppets Most Wanted is just like the beloved 2011 Jason Segel reboot The Muppets, but without all those dumb emotions. (“Leading man Ricky Gervais doesn't really do feelings,” notes The Guardian.)
Gervais stars in the role he was born to play: Dominic Badguy, pronounced bad-gee. It’s French. It means “good man.” As one of the biggest managers in show business, he convinces the Muppets to go on a world tour. It’s to Gervais’ credit that we don’t suspect he’s a bad guy — bad gee? — until well into the movie. You almost believe he’s covered in felt himself.
How does Gervais feel about the Muppets? “I do like Muppets. I really love the Muppets,” he told Vanity Fair. “I really like the attitude of the Muppets.” So, for the record, Gervais is pro-Muppet. And the fact that Muppets Most Wanted was a grave financial disappointment, despite coming on the heels of The Muppets’ success, surely can’t be blamed on Gervais. Everyone knows that Swedish Chef is box-office poison.
Seona Dancing — More to Lose
Undeniably the most essential of Gervais’ least essential work is his 1980s new-wave band Seona Dancing. Formed with his college friend Bill Macrae, Seona Dancing was a synth-fueled soul machine in the spirit of Spandau Ballet or Johnny Hates Jazz. Signed to the London Records label, Seona Dancing released two singles in the U.K., neither of which made the Top 40 despite this dreamily enigmatic performance of “More to Lose” on Brit kiddie show Razzmatazz.
Performing in front of slack-jawed, prepubescent clappers? Brilliant! But while “More to Lose” fizzled out at #117 on the U.K. charts, something amazing did happen: A DJ in the Philippines began spinning the song where it caught fire and became one of the country’s defining hits of the 1980s, “as ubiquitous as Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes,’ but with the eternal hipster cool of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart.’”
We’d love to see a Seona Dancing reunion, but it seems Gervais hasn’t kept in touch with Macrae after all these years. When Jimmy Kimmel asked him what became of his old band mate, he shrugged and replied, “I hope he got fat, too.”