Ricky Gervais: Science

Anyone who has seen Animals, Politics and Fame will know that Ricky Gervais has a tried and tested modus operandi for his stand-up comedy gigs. He takes a theme, alludes to it tenuously, then riffs away on mostly non-related topics with the gorgeous repetition of Stewart Lee and the circumlocution of Ronnie Corbett telling shaggy dog stories on his pint-sized throne. These comparisons are in no way detrimental to Gervais.

With Science, Gervais does occasionally stick to the subject. Most notably, he achieves this in his atheist science-over-faith stance on the flagship setpiece, a discourse on the unfeasability of Noah’s Ark. He takes a similar approach to disseminating and ripping apart the homophobia of religious far-right extremists who oppose gay marriage. Other than that, though, this is a grab-bag of routines that have barely anything to do with science, as Gervais is quick to admit as he bounds onto the stage.

Gervais squeezed in Science at the same time as he was tackling his movie projects, Cemetary Junction and The Invention of Lying. You get the sense of a man who’s waited ten years to be an overnight success, and wants to workaholic his way to Olympian heights – enjoying the journey, yes, but too conscious of the unfavourable nature of time to stop and admire the view.

Science is more patchy than previous routines which have been more flowing and coherent in nature, but aside from one or two stand-out moments, Gervais specialises in a satisfying mix of inclusive and self-aggrandizing humour. He’s not a stupid man: By examining his motivations behind the jokes he drags the audience into another level of appreciation / eyebrow raising at the tacit irony of laughing at non PC jokes.

Ricky Gervais knows how to handle a crowd as well as himself. In fact, probably better than himself. His cheeky, intelligent egomania (peeling away the onion-skin levels of ironic self-love and inherently implied self doubt, one gets the feeling he genuinely does love his bad self to bits) doesn’t push the envelope in Science, but there’s still enough to laugh at and think about to make this a consistently entertaining 70 minutes and worthy stocking filler.

Huzzah! Ricky Gervais: Science will be released on November 22 2010.

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