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Laugh Until It Hurts: An Advance Review of HBO's "The Ricky Gervais Show"

If you ever listened to Ricky Gervais' hilarious podcast, you know what to expect from HBO's newest animated offering, The Ricky Gervais Show. But even if you have, the series will still make you laugh until it physically hurts.

Featuring the voices of Gervais, Stephen Merchant, and Karl Pilkington, The Ricky Gervais Show takes those podcasts and animates them, transforming the musings of Gervais, Merchant, and Pilkington into something resembling a Flintstones cartoon, if Fred and Barney had a ridiculous naive friend and they all sat around talking bollocks and trashing him all the time.

Meet Karl Pilkington. He of the roundest head in the world, Karl is a very easy target for the savage wit of writing partners Gervais and Merchant (who together created The Office and Extras), who use the opportunity to pounce on anything remotely ridiculous emanating from Pilkington's mouth. Which, to be honest, is very thankfully most of the time.

Arranged ostensibly as a roundtable discussion, The Ricky Gervais Show finds the trio dissecting any number of things: fallacies that Pilkington has taken on board, naive viewpoints about the world, monkey- and nob-related news, and much more. (The regular "Monkey News" segment is a personal favorite and has been since Gervais and Co. started doing the podcasts way back when.)

The animated format allows for some fantastically funny visual puns as well as the ability to not only depict the gang chatting but also to take some imaginative journeys inside the mind of Karl Pilkington, journey up into a banana-dispensing rocket ship piloted by a trained monkey, or follow the gang on their adventures, which include riffs on just about everything under the sun. They also allow for some freshening up of the underlying material, so that if you have already heard these exchanges, they seem new and polished after undergoing animation.

The raucous and filthy-mouthed proceedings are absolutely hilarious. The first three episodes of The Ricky Gervais Show (which were provided for review) are hysterical as Pilkington talks about visiting a creepy, rundown estate owned by a friend (the best bit: the grocery list he encounters), Merchant discusses locker room etiquette, and Gervais can't help but bust out his trademark laugh and rip Pilkington's stories apart with gleeful abandon.

There's an easy wit to The Ricky Gervais Show as well as some gasp-inducing moments of pure, unadulterated comedic gold. The trick is to not watch the series while drinking a hot cup of tea... lest you end up doing a spit-take every other minute. But in the privacy of your own home, maybe that's just the thing for winding down the work week.

The Ricky Gervais Show premieres tomorrow night at 9 pm ET/PT on HBO.


Hannah Moon said…
I LOVED the podcasts and can't wait to see animated versions of Gervais and company. Very much looking forward to this.

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