Ricky Gervais’ return to the world of stand-up comedy with Humanity over the past year has drawn praise from critics and audiences alike, with some even insisting that it is the comedian’s best show to date.
However, Gervais’ efforts on Humanity mean that he hasn’t been able to fully focus on writing his new sitcom, the idea for which he has been developing over the last few months. During my conversation with the British comedian last weekend I asked for an update on his potential new Netflix release, and he revealed that he has found the time to sketch out “outlines” for all “six episodes” during the day while on tour.
“I’ve been writing that,” Gervais responded. “The good thing about being on tour is that your days are free. So I have been secretly working away. I’ve got a very rough, very rough outline of six episodes of the new show.”
When I asked which of his past shows the sitcom is reminiscent of Gervais added, “The tone of it is like ‘Extras,’ because it is naturalistic acting but funny things. It is not as out and out as that. It is slightly darker.”
Gervais’ insistence that it is “slightly darker” made me wonder whether he has followed the likes of “Louie,” “Master Of None,” and even his most recent sitcom “Derek” by merging the comedy with moments of drama, and having long spells where there actually aren’t any jokes.
“I suppose there are funny conversations that are weird and in depth, and normal and real like ‘Louie.’ I supposed the pace of it is more like a drama. Like ‘Ozark’ or something like that. It is like an adaptation of a novel. But I just couldn’t be bothered to write the novel. It is a six part story.”
“But you’d have to call it a comedy drama. Because it is funny. Even though it is not jokes. The funny thing is that this guy says what he wants because his wife dies and he decides to punish the world by saying what he wants. It is almost like a superpower. So it is really funny the way he treats the world.”
Gervais then noted that he has always tried to blend comedy with drama in his work, adding that he tried to “sneak it” into “The Office,” while he was much “more blatant with ‘Derek’ that it was sad”
“I have always tried to sneak in a bit of comedy plus. Even in my stand-up, I have never been, ‘Oh God, I’ve got to have a joke ever 30 seconds.’ If a story takes 3 minutes to tell and then there’s a big punchline I will do it. Because if they’re smiling for it that’s good. I don’t care if I have punchlines every 30 seconds. In fact, it is a little bit wearing. I can’t sit through an act of one-liners. You’re looking at your watch. Where if someone is telling you a story or if there’s a narrative or theme to it the time flies by. I have always tried to do that, yeah.”
Sadly, we’re still not sure when Ricky Gervais’ Netflix sitcom will actually be with us.