First Night: Ricky Gervais, Madison Square Garden, New York
Near-the-knuckle Gervais pushes US boundaries
By Julian Hall
Outside New York’s Madison Square Garden Theatre, ticket touts were having difficulties pronouncing Ricky Gervais’s name. “Want tickets for Ricky Gerva?” they inquired, hesitantly. Inside, however, most people knew exactly who they had come to see and they hailed Ricky Gervais’s live debut in the US accordingly. The gig was given added impact by the presence of David Bowie in his role as curator of New York’s High Line Festival, of which this performance was a part. Rather than merely introduce Gervais, Bowie supplied a comic turn by reprising the song he sang in Extras, the show that enhanced Gervais’ US-appeal when it aired on HBO.
The response of the audience, (an audience that included Billy Connolly as well as a number of American comics), was justified as the 45-year-old comedian breezed through a show that was cannily put together using the best bits of his previous three stand-up outings: Animals, Extras and Fame. From the latter he took a number of blunt observations about fat people; for example that “obesity is not a disease” and that the problem for fat people is that “everything tastes good except salad”, before noting: “You’ve got some proper fat people over here!”