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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 3 July, 2002, 11:37 GMT 12:37 UK
Gervais: Animal in the flesh
The Office won numerous television awards
Ricky Gervais swaps the office for nature

For millions of TV watchers Ricky Gervais will always be David Brent, the chubby, garrulous and socially inept manager of cult BBC sitcom The Office.

With a second series in the offing, fans can hardly wait to see what Ricky's monstrous alter ego will get up to next.

So it is not surprising that his short run of stand-up shows at London's Soho Theatre sold out long before opening night.

Having dispensed with Brent's goatee, Gervais cuts a noticably slicker, and slimmer, figure on stage.

Ricky Gervais in The Office
Ricky Gervais provokes "appalled laughter"
But his trademark brand of sneering humour has made the transition intact.

For while Animals purports to be a comic lecture on the animal kingdom ("the bits David Attenborough left out of Life on Earth"), it is merely an excuse for this self-styled "gypo from Reading" to poke fun mercilessly at anything that takes his fancy.

Beginning with a black-and-white film of lions and lionesses mating in the wild, the tone is quickly set once the "French" narrator begins making misogynistic remarks at how the female of the species teases the male.

And any pretence at serious discussion is banished once and for all when Gervais reveals his notion of "the most destructive creature on earth" - giant gorilla King Kong.

Having wasted many hours watching the Discovery Channel, he says, "ask me anything about sharks and Nazis".

Apparently the former are by far the more fearsome predator: "a shark would have found Anne Frank in a second."

Jeremy Spake
Jeremy Spake from Airport fame comes in for abuse
His cruellest jibe is reserved for Stephen Hawking, whom Gervais believes is "pretentious" because "he comes from Kent but speaks in an American accent".

Throughout the hour-long show, Gervais continually baits his audience with misanthropic, homophobic and blasphemous remarks, provoking gasps of appalled laughter.

A whistle-stop tour through the Book of Genesis allows him to compare God to illusionist David Blaine and the Garden of Eden to "the rich side on Big Brother".

Bestiality, paedophilia and cannibalism are some of the other topics to come under the microscope.

We also learn that mermaids are "overrated", cows can't handle stairs and elephants like to go swimming.

He saves the best for last, however, showing us drawings of "gay" animals as detailed in Bruce Bagemihl's dubious study Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity.

Rest assured Mr Bagemihl gets his comeuppance shortly afterwards - though what poor Jeremy Spake has done to incur Ricky's wrath is anyone's guess.

Ricky Gervais - Animals is on at the Soho theatre until 13 July

See also:

30 Jan 02 | Entertainment
06 Feb 02 | Entertainment
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20 Mar 02 | Entertainment
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