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Thread: Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes

  1. #46
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    I enjoyed kpunk’s critique but don’t think it stands up, firstly because effective critique is only ever a little bit of what makes stuff funny, and secondly because at its core The Office was never some Kafka influenced critique of alienation under managerialism etc, it sometimes could be that… but for eg looking at the pilot, it was firstly about Gervais doing a ‘seedy boss’ impression. The environment facilitated his seediness (and later hunger for fame, ineptitude etc) but didn’t necessarily produce it. I think it’s actually looking at comedy through a moral lens that sometimes sucks the fun out...

    That’s not to say the show wasn’t critical of the office environment in lots of brilliant ways but I think first and foremost the office is great because of well observed tragic characters. And if there was a structural critique it was more about small time fame, reality TV, and zooming out a bit more, masculinity.

    Posturing masculinity within a small time hierarchy is pathetic and interesting and funny. This forum proves this! Brent is still funny as a travelling salesman, a minor celebrity and a disappointed middle-aged man on a date. The comic tension is not about the futility or awkwardness of certain roles it’s more about imagined status, and the tragic disparity between who you think you are and how you’re perceived. People Just Do Nothing is proof that this concept of male insecurity playing to a crowd in a dull confined space can be dropped into other environments (pirate radio!) and still works.

    As for the Tim as bully theory, maybe a bit. But he was regularly a victim (repeatedly rejected by dawn, mildly assaulted by Lee, again in warehouse) and regularly compassionate “i’ll go for a drink with you mate / never give up!” That said I do agree the office has enabled certain forms of bullying to thrive, but more for the reasons discussed upthread (ironic distance as smokescreen for plain cruelty). Of course the main bully was Finchy, and he gets his comeuppance in a pretty understated but very satisfying way...

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  3. #47
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    I never got the impression Tim was a bully, but as I said, I never watched it religiously. This thread is making me want to revisit it, but perhaps I'd find it more depressing than funny these days.

    Anyone here ever watched the American version? I've never seen it but I understand it's pretty huge over there. Maybe it's funny as a thing in its own right but the original is just so specifically British in its meanness, its neuroticness and its relentless petty absurdity that I can't really imagine an American take on it working very well as a direct translation.
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  4. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Tea View Post
    This thread is making me want to revisit it, but perhaps I'd find it more depressing than funny these days.
    I feel that way about Peep Show too. I still think it's great and enjoy it, but it's much more difficult to watch now and there's an aching sadness to it that's bundled up with nostalgia - seeing how old the early series look now and how young Mitchell and Webb were at the time is a bit grim.


  5. #49
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    It's the dissensus way to pick apart things until they're just a dissected mess of guts on a lab table though, innit?

    RG had no idea what he was doing when he started the Office. He had some rough bullet points about offices (he'd worked in one himself iirc), the character Brent, and his mate Merchant who he'd just been doing radio with.. Another blag of a venture that somehow got way further than he could have imagined. He was again influenced by Larry Sanders in the pseudo docu/dry delivery thing and somehow the beeb trusted him enough to greenlight it. But he was more or less having a laugh. Effectively, he was still the guy wandering school with his tag along mate during class time, looking for unoccupied rooms to get in and fly around on swivel chairs and write bum on the blackboard. Some of this was revealed during convo in the orig podcasts and I think maybe also in a few extras on an Office DVD. The guy has been blagging it almost his whole career. If you dip back even further, you can find clips of him on The 11 O'clock Show from the late 90. He was their acid tongued current affairs pundit taking the piss out of everything in sight:

    Ricky Gervais on the 11 O'Clock Show - massive compilation



    At 15 or whatever I found it hilarious, and after a quick skim through just now, it's still pretty good. Maybe even his funniest stuff? But you can see the bully in action there. The coldness. I think I'm way to desensitised at this point to be offended by it, and clearly way back then people were already deep down in the dark comedy trenches, but I do wonder about that direction we took and then the role played by the Office in solidifying it as defacto stance. There's no way this was all some grand plan on his behalf. He was just lucky more than anything, but it is his specific perspective that then went on to shape the cultural landscape.

    What I was wondering was if this is really just him being right place, right time and reflecting the general consensus or if he inadvertently nudged the cart in a certain direction. After going over it a bit I think it's a bit of both, we were already going that way anyway. And if you think about the time when most of the people active in it all were growing up, the late 70s and early 80s, its no surprise that their outlook was so grim.

    Tim was for sure no big time aggressor or bully and got the wrong end of the stick, plenty. There were no winners in the office. But it's just that in so many ways I think he had the potential to break out of what he hated so much and yet did nothing about it apart from be a cunt. He was smarter than that and I guess that was one of the more profound aspects to me at the time, that he could have just left ffs. But its a classic tale in its own right.
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  7. #50
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    I'd forgotten his bit on the 11 O'Clock Show. That was genuinely funny, I recall. Isn't that where SB-C got his big break as Ali G, too?

    The rest of the show was pretty terrible, I thought. Wouldn't be surprised if people - male ones, anyway - watched it mainly because they fancied Daisy whasserface.
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  8. #51
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    Yeah that's where Ali G started. Speaking of old UK comedy shows, did you ever see Comedy Nation on BBC2? SB C was on there too. That was my fave as a schoolkid
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  9. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by shiels View Post
    Posturing masculinity within a small time hierarchy is pathetic and interesting and funny. This forum proves this! ...
    oof!

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