Written by Caballero Oscuro
If you’ve seen any stand-up comedy work from Ricky Gervais before, you’ll likely find some recycled material in this new DVD. In fact, Gervais defines his Out of England show as a “greatest hits” revue in the bonus interview included here. If you’re new to Gervais stand-up, you’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by the fact that he even does stand-up after earning riches and acclaim as the co-creator and star of both the original BBC versions of The Office as well as Extras. Gladly, his live comedy isn’t some worthless ego-stroking exercise; he takes his stand-up craft seriously and delivers a solid round of laughs that translates perfectly well to these shores.
After three previous stand-up tours and DVDs in his native England, Gervais finally brought his live show to the U.S. late last year. The show was subsequently broadcast on HBO in advance of this DVD release. The special was filmed during his New York City engagement at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden . He’s not big on extensive engagements, joking in the extras about only hitting LA and NY and ignoring the rest of the country. He’s also not big on late starts or late nights (as this reviewer painfully found out during his LA engagement), having a laugh that he likes to start on time and be back in bed in his hotel room by 9:30.
As the show opens, he strolls onstage in a king’s robe while a mammoth “RICKY” sign in lights fills the stage. He goes on to joke about disparate subjects such as obesity, fame, and fundraising for about an hour, exhibiting great pacing with just a touch of rough transitions between bits. Gervais isn’t a particularly dirty comedian, although he hits a few mildly ribald sections in his act. He goes for fairly mass appeal here, pausing only long enough to visit his can of Fosters before launching into another story. It’s easy to imagine this mostly timeless material being developed in the company of friends in a neighborhood pub, marking Gervais as a classic storyteller rather than any kind of current-events humorist or self-deprecating ego deflater. He’s completely at home on stage and well worth watching; thankfully all of the flyover states finally have the opportunity.
Ricky Gervais: Out of England is available on DVD on March 31st.