A lot of the world has changed in the seven years since Ricky Gervais last did a standup TV special. But not Ricky. For true die hard fans, that’s fine. For people who like their stars to grow and evolve? Not so much. Gervais’ new special Humanity (available to stream now on Netflix), comments on current events. But the tone, delivery, and non-judgmental judgment has not.
We popped open up a Foster’s oil can and settled in to laugh so hard we could skip abs day at the gym. At best we got a warm up and stretch. Ricky reminds us straight away that it’s been seven years, unless you count his Golden Globe appearances. And it seems that he spent a lot of that time trolling on twitter.
He does a long set (long to the point of tedium) on Caitlyn Jenner. Now Ricky’s never been politically correct, and that’s what’s always made watching his shows such cringe-worthy fun. But the bit, which flirts with becoming a borderline rant, talks about when Bruce Jenner won the Olympic Decathlon, imagines Caitlyn’s conversation with her doctor, and Ricky’s own personal desire to transition into a chimpanzee.
It is intentionally offensive, mildly funny, and completely tired. Most of the bit is one version or another of jokes and observations that came out when she announced her transition to Diane Sawyer three years ago, or the semi-topical shots he took at the 2016 Globes. Perhaps the material still feels fresh in Britain. But these days Caitlyn Jenner is old news in America.
He also talks about getting negative feedback on Twitter. Now we all love Twitter Trolling. It’s fun, cathartic, and anonymous. But that’s for us faceless masses. However, the anonymity only one sided when Ricky gets involved. When someone with a dozen followers snaps back, he unleashes his 13 million strong army of followers on the dude so he can sit back and watch the carnage unfold.
And he skillfully does this while painting himself out as the victim. While it is pseudo-self deprecating, it is also almost painful self-awareness that he needs to make an attempt to keep (get?) the audience on his side.
Ricky’s always been edgy and biting, from David Brent on The Office taking on Carl on The Ricky Gervais Show. But this feels different. Maybe because when we can see his targets we can laugh with them and at them. But when it’s just him attacking faceless masses it seems to lose its edge.
At the end of the day, Classic Ricky just comes off Classless.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
The Sweet Tart. We were going to go with something bitter, but after 2 large Fosters and mixing up a pitcher of Sweet Tarts, we settled on this. It looks familiar and inviting. But when you finally taste it, it makes you pucker your mouth, narrow your eyes and wriggle your nose. You don’t know exactly why you don’t like it, but realize that you moved on from these types of drinks years ago.