Ricky Gervais: the backlash
The British comedian and Hollywood star receives lukewarm reception at Edinburgh for his new stand-up show Science
Anyone who thought Ricky Gervais could do no wrong in the eyes of the British media has been rudely awakened this morning by the lukewarm reviews for the comic's one-man show at the Edinburgh Festival on Tuesday night, which he called 'Science'.
The star of The Office and Extras - and, increasingly, of Hollywood movies - received only two-star reviews from both the Guardian's Brian Logan and the Independent's Julian Hall today.
Both critics mention tongue-in-check politically incorrect jokes that go too far to be funny. Describing a woman he sat next to at a Ken Dodd gig, Gervais said: "I want to say fat mental bird, but I know that's wrong." He later refered to her as a "thing". And remarking that he nearly knocked over an old woman, he said: "I didn't though... I raped her."
But it is his infatutation with his own fame that appears to be his undoing. The show began with footage featuring his new film The Invention of Lying, which also stars Tina Fey, Jennifer Garner and Rob Lowe. Hall felt this was merely rubbing the audience's nose in his success. "The message, as ever, was 'Look at me, I am a big star and see how I ironically bask in that status'."
Logan felt the show could not possibly live up to the "overblown hype" of that introduction. Where Gervais once took a "delicate" scalpel to liberal anxieties with his anti-PC jokes about wheelchairs and race in The Office, he now uses a mallet. "It just feels like we're watching a very rich and successful man mock the unfortunate - it's not a good look and it's a waste of his talent."
Telegraph reviewer Dominic Cavendish rated the show slightly higher at three stars, but did not think much of Gervais’s credit crunch jokes, such as: "I know there’s a recession on, someone told me, I hadn’t noticed."
Said Cavendish: "If he carries on like this in front of cash-strapped fans, he might be in for a nasty shock. That long-awaited backlash may be nigh." ·
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