The future of comedy is a simple man named Karl Pilkington. And he may or may not be in on the joke.
Pilkington, with his exasperated wit, peculiar worldviews and beach-ball cranium, is the Mancunian star of the various incarnations of the record-shattering audio series, The Ricky Gervais Show.
In a world where comedy is now full of gross-out shocks and mean-spirited jabs, Pilkington is a bright, shining and bewildered star of hope. He is a man whose wandering mind is constantly searching for knowledge and often filtering that information so it comes out so far removed from reality that it would be annoying, if it weren’t so offbeat and hilarious.
His worldview can be summed up concisely by a three-word statement he made in the first series of podcasts back in 2006.
“Knowledge is hassle.”
The brilliance of Gervais and Stephen Merchant, co-creators of the original The Office and Extras, has already been well established, and the two also bring their “A” game to The Ricky Gervais Guide to… the new audiobook series downloadable from iTunes.
However, this is the Karl show, as Gervais and Merchant prod and poke Pilkington into giving his peculiar views on such light topics as philosophy, art and natural history.
You will be able to get a taste of the amazing series soon when a free audiobook is released on iTunes, The Ricky Gervais Guide to The English. You won’t be disappointed.
Pilkington’s work with Gervais and Merchant goes back as far as 2001 when he was first introduced to England as the producer of Gervais’ weekly Xfm radio gig in London. It was there that Gervais, Merchant and the audience first got into the mind of the “shaved chimp” and his thoughts on hairy Chinese kids, lazy animals and old men eating candy bars. In 2005, the team made the jump from radio to Internet podcasting, where Karlology was listenable from all around the world. The podcasts were a resounding success, with the many millions in downloads nabbing the series a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the “most downloaded podcast.” Pilkington has since jumped into the world of books, voiceovers and television appearances.
But he, unlike Gervais, is still not a common household name.
The way the audio series manage to draw in the listener, despite its simple premise of three men in a room chatting, is a remarkable feat and testament to the cleverness of Ricky Gervais. He knows funny and knows when to sit back and remain silent and when to yell at Pilkington in a fit of faux-rage. Gervais’ loud guffaws at Pilkington’s inanity may crackle your iPod’s speakers, but they show you that he is having just as good of a time as you are.
Pilkington’s thoughts are best heard with his monotone delivery and working-class British accent, but here are some peeks into his thought processes:
-His incorrect interpretation of the famous saying, “People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”
“Don’t be chuckin’ stuff about, if you’re surrounded by glass and what have ya.”
-On the snobbery of art.
“I’ve been to Pompeii where they had doodling on the walls and that was all knobs, tits and ass … Do that now people go, ‘That’s a disgrace, rub that out … ‘ where as now if you see one in Pompeii people go, ‘Look at the detail on that … .’ It’s the same knob, the knob has not changed.”
“Don’t solve problems, because a problem solved is a … problem … caused.”
He has become a rarity in the world and somewhat of a throwback to the long-forgotten position of the professional thinker.
Imagine Rodin’s The Thinker statue, only with a large question mark resting over a perfectly round head.
Almost no one has a job anymore where they are paid to ponder things and present what they learned, but over the course of his podcasts and three introspective and strange books, Pilkington does just that. He roams museums, travels and reads books merely so he can cram his brain with all the things he didn’t learn as a kid growing up in Manchester.
His brain is a stunning wealth of insight and hilarity, offering opinions on everything from the art world to his possible response upon confronting his own clone (“How would I know which one was me?”).
And when this comedic nonchalance is matched with Ricky Gervais? Simply brilliant.