After making a devastating splash hosting the Golden Globes and shocking America with a brand of humor so edgy and devastatingly on-mark that his name was forever scorched into the stone tablets of entertainment history, someone has finally convinced remarkable iconoclast Ricky Gervais to use his peerless image for advertising. And the results are even smarter and more self-aware than you'd expect.
In case you haven't figured it out already, the above paragraph was sarcasm. But Gervais himself seems to have moved to a level of thinking beyond sarcasm, beyond irony. In shows like The Office, he wrung awkward humor from being made fun of. In the ad "dues," his (American?) niece reads him some abusive review and asks what it means. He pauses, considers. "It means I'm doing something right." Stay uncompromising, Audi tells us.
Just what on earth is going on here? I know Gervais is not the bulletproof comic mastermind he once seemed to be—recent shows like Derek and Life's Too Short were serious misfires, and Gervais' ceaseless enthusiasm for his Globes hosting gig got tiresome the second the awards were over. But this national advertising campaign may be too difficult for him to recover from. It's hard to present yourself as a legendary rebel when no one even likes the things you're making anymore.
Hell, Amy Poehler or someone similarly adored could make the following ad and get pelted with fruit for it. No one should look at this copy and say "yeah, let's do it." No one on earth.
"I cherish the gasps as much as the laughs and the cheers and the rounds of applause. I like that. I didn't turn up to any audience and go, 'What do you like? What shall I do? I do requests!' You know, the reaction after the Golden Globes was weird. You usually have to be a mass murderer for that sort of column inches. But then, you know, by the end, they sort of got it, he's just telling jokes. I don't really want to do safe, homogenized stuff that everyone likes a bit. I sort of like doing it my way, cause that's the fun. Every day should be filled with doing what you love. That's more important. That's more important than anything."
Okay, Mr. Sultan of Real Comedy, take it easy there. Who out there isn't saying you should do what you love, and do it your way? So you walked onto the Golden Globes stage and admitted The Tourist was a shitty movie. Is that what amounts to firebrand truth-telling these days?
All of this would be a headache if it wasn't designed to sell luxury cars. As it is, it amounts to the most bafflingly unaware decision Gervais has made yet. Here's hoping he'll find some way to top it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.