Brit Karl Pilkington has led a sheltered life. Not having done any traveling, he enjoys living within the comforts of what he knows, basically that being what is purely British. As such, ... See full summary »
Award-winning actor/comedian Ricky Gervais' first-ever HBO stand-up special features his unique takes on such disparate issues as fund-raising, autism, fame, nursery rhymes, Nazis, moronic friends, obesity and more.
If you enjoyed "Friends", what are you even doing on this page?
(A suggestion: how about "Two Idiots Abroad" with Karl and Snooki? Or perhaps Karl becoming the 9th room-mate in the Jersey Shore house? Just a thought.)
Recently I'd finished watching both seasons of "An Idiot Abroad", and straight away thought, right, I'll never find anything as funny to follow this up with: it can only go downhill from here. I was having the first symptoms of "pilkingtonian withdrawal", a new pandemic whose existence I am sure other Pilko-fans can attest to. I figured I'd have no alternative left but to go back to re-viewing Karl's travelogue.
But then I luckily found out about the podcasts. Almost a decade old, and only now do I find out about them? In fact, I didn't even know who Karl was until a few months ago. Shame on me. What kind of a world do we live in which I learn about Kristen Stewart straight away, but don't find out about Karl until years later? Little did I know that TRGS would actually manage to surpass the high hilarity level in AIA. These animated podcasts contain some of the funniest material I have ever seen or heard. Every episode will make you laugh out loud, unless you're either autistic, asleep, totally soused, or a humourless g*t.
Picture the "Howard Stern Show" (in its heyday, not now), mixed in with "Dr.Katz" (with its animated flights of fancy), a touch of Steven Wright (the bizarre concepts and insane "logic"), and a speck of Peter Sellers of "Being There" only funnier. TRGS might just be one of the best comedy series ever, or at the very least the best animated series of all times. Hugely original, totally unpredictable (except the "Monkey News", but that's the whole point), and refreshingly pointless.
Some people make the inane case for the original podcasts being better than their animated version because "one is left to one's own imagination". That is a ludicrous argument, the kind of idealistic babble that you might have heard from your apathetic English professor at school. Using that "logic", every good movie or TV show should be only heard, not seen, so that the viewer's experience doesn't get "impinged" by someone else's subjective visual imprint of the events. "Total b*ll*cks", as Gervais would probably say. Using this "logic", perhaps famous paintings should be described but never seen, so that the art-lovers "get to use their own imagination instead of someone else's". What poppycock. There's always someone to split hairs and nit-pick, even when an idea is totally flawless.
HBO's animation is imaginative, funny, colourful, spot-on brilliant, adding a whole new dimension of fun to the "bare bones" of the original broadcasts. The animators added a plethora of great new visual gags to the already existing top-notch material so it mystifies me that anyone could possibly have a bone to pick with that. The drawing style is simple yet effective; the decision to go for a cheerful look as opposed to a grotesque (i.e. more "adult") style pays off vastly, because Karl's ravings are usually like that of a child anyway, a fact that would make any attempts to "darken" the tone of the show totally detrimental.
Is Karl a moron? I've already largely covered that in my "An Idiot Abroad" comment. Suffice it to say that Karl is weird rather than unintelligent, certainly an original thinker (in the broad sense of the term). Ricky calls him a "strange little creature", and that is a far more appropriate description of the round-headed fella than the somewhat crass "buffoon" label he gets in the opening credits. Pilkington is a very likable person, mellow and non-aggressive in his intentions (except when it comes to kicking a duck's butt), living in his own little world (which he luckily recounts in his ridiculous diary), and not every analysis he makes is daft. He jumps to conclusions, he tends to believe whatever suits him (rather than what makes sense), his general knowledge is poor (but so is that of much of the masses), and his wishful thinking gets the better of him in most cases (which makes him no different than most people, actually).
That particular affliction - wishful thinking is something Ricky Gervais exhibits too. Ricky refers to himself as a "liberal"; left-wingers base their philosophies on wishful thinking, fearing to face a science-based politically-incorrect ugly reality that doesn't often go hand-in-hand with their idealistic notions of an eventual "perfect world" that they so desperately want to believe in.
In an ideal world, unguided by commercial restraints, this show would be called "The Karl Pilkington Show"; in fact, Gervais had said something to this effect. However, it is foolish to minimize the efforts of Gervais/Merchant, who not only bring out the best in Karl but who themselves offer a great number of clever observations and hilarious comments. After all, Gervais isn't just some random run-of-the-mill comedian who lucked out, i.e. "struck gold", by bumping into Pilkington one rainy English day in the monkey section of the Manchester Zoo; Ricky is currently the best stand-up comedian there is. Watch "Fame", "Animals", or "Out of England", and you can't go wrong.
The stand-out episode is s02e01, in which Karl describes the outline of his movie with Rebecca de Mornay. TRGS has to be seen to be believed. Just as I use "Friends" (the worst sitcom of all time) as a litmus test to weed out those with low(er) intelligence and a primitive/shoddy taste in comedy, likewise will I do from now on with TRGS: anyone who finds this program unfunny is either braindead or deeply depressed and on the verge of committing suicide. In fact, if you're depressed, you cannot possible want to jump off a bridge once you've seen an episode. You'll want to cancel your suicide or at the very least postpone it until you'd seen all the (so far) 26 episodes.
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