We’ve always been pretty big fans of Ricky Gervais’ work, but in his new stand-up show, Humans, the best we can come up with in terms of a review is that it’s occassionally funny, which isn’t the glowing write-up we were hoping for. It’s not that it’s a bad show as such, it’s just that it’s a bit meh, without the impact we’re used to from the Office and Extras comedy heavyweight (wit, not waistline) we usually know and love.
There are, admittedly, some good patches to look forward to, but when the gag that gets the biggest laugh is a self deprecating reference to the pendulous swing of his now elderly gonads, you know it’s not been his best work. Other highlights are sort hard to recall, despite only seeing the show last night, but he’s at his best when there’s some real thought and effort in the material, instead of the rehash of funny things he’s said elsewhere that makes up the lion’s share of the show.
There’s everything from reading some of his choice Twitter conversations to… reading some of his choice Golden Globes chat, which was a little old-hat and not really the shiny new material you expect from a stand-up tour. In the end it just sort of felt like a soap box platform for Ricky Gervais to get some things off his chest, which gets a bit preachy at times. His key takeaway is that you can laugh at anything in the right context, which the majority of the audience already get, so treating them to an hour and a half sermon on it seemed like an exercise in futility.
Perhaps we’re being a little harsh, because in all fairness it wasn’t a bad night of comedy, just a bit of an ill conceived one in comparison to the genius of his previous shows. Where Science and Politics had clever insight, a smart unifying theme, a whole lot of funny and the kind of structure, effort and material that makes a big name comedy show worth going to, his fifth stand-up show struggles to hold on to anything all that meaningful.
The name of the show, Humanity, seemed to imply that this was going to be the next big scalpel sharp incision into the world at large, with the people that faff it up being the bunch of bananas on his chopping board. However, that couldn’t be further from the truth, which was disappointing and a real missed opportunity. If anything there are more references to himself than anything remotely resembling societal satire or observational comedy.
Humans is an OK comedy show for Gervais, but it could have been so much more than it turned out. It’s been seven years since 2007’s Fame, so it’s not impossible to think that there might just be a rustiness to it all, but we suspect not. Instead, it requires a little more time and effort at the drawing board and a little less time rehashing old jokes, his brother’s included.
Ricky Gervais, Humanity review: 2.4/5