By Ben Jeffrey
BBC News Online
For a man who once gave up stand-up because it was "just too hard", Ricky Gervais gives a convincing impression of a comic who has found his feet on the stage, as he performs his new show Politics.
Ricky Gervais: From The Office to Politics
With David Brent - his alter ego from BBC comedy The Office - having made his television swansong, Gervais is broadening his repertoire with Politics - and by choosing to make it the material for his first UK tour.
An early word of warning though: Politics, like his last stand-up show Animals, is not for the easily-offended.
Within 15 minutes of the start of his act at Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre on Tuesday, Gervais cracked jokes about the Holocaust, paedophilia and disabled people.
Gays and Nazis
Nor is the show really about the behaviour of the honourable members of parliament in Westminster.
There is a solitary party political gag ("We've done gays and Nazis - that's enough about the Conservative party") as he skips between subjects including teenage masturbation and the trials of looking more like David Brent than anyone else on earth.
Politics is essentially an excuse for Gervais to poke fun at any target that takes his fancy in the most politically incorrect way he can.
The scene is set with an opening short film which finds him outside the Houses of Parliament accosting a passer-by in a wheelchair, played by The Office producer Ash Atalla.
After forcing him to don a fez, Gervais discovers his age before replying: "Thirty-one? You should be walking by now then."
Onstage, much of Gervais' hour-long performance draws inspiration from his youth.
We learn the proliferation of students wearing berets in the queue to join the Marxism class put him off the subject for the remainder of his university life.
And Gervais tells us that, as a small seven-year-old, the moral he drew from the story of David and Goliath was always to carry a weapon.
But somehow Gervais manages to remain both likeable and funny. And, you take away the impression that Gervais talks to the audience in the same way he might joke with a friend in the pub.
This makes you indulge him as you would a mate at the bar - you feel you know the jokes are not gratuitously cruel, but are meant solely for the purpose of entertaining those in his orbit.
In Politics, as with politics, it is all about delivery.
Ricky Gervais is touring the UK until 22 April.