Skip to main content

On Ricky Gervais’s Humanity

Dashing to the tube station. Need to get across town. It’s peak hour. It’s going to take forever. Hands are too shaky, Oyster card fumbles to the ground. Bending to pick it up and almost collected by the post-work crush. Finally through the tube barrier. Racing down the stairs. Eyes darting to the list of stations. Need to make sure I’m headed the right way. Stomach filled with butterflies. Blind butterflies smashing into each other rather than calmly flitting through the air. Breathe. Need.to.breathe.

Platform. Not as crowded as expected. Small mercies. Check the next train. That’s the one. Stand in the space next to where, hopefully, the doors will open. Train approaching. Stand back from the line. Mind the gap. Train car almost empty. Get a seat! Fumble in my bag for, what? Music? A book? Too distracted. Stare out the window instead. Will I make it in time? Will I?

Pulling into Hammersmith. Last stop. People sauntering this way and that. Why aren’t they moving quicker? Move quicker! Out of my way! A date with destiny! A date fifteen years in the making! Move. MOVE!

In the distance. The Apollo. Lights glowing. His name. Right there. Check my watch. Oh…

!!!!!!

Because of course I had plenty of time. Forty minutes of it to be exact. But if there was ever a time I was going to pull out all the stops to arrive at my destination early, this was it. This was Ricky Gervais. Live. His first stand up in seven years and I had managed to score myself a ticket despite the speed in which his shows sold out all over the globe. Just the one ticket, though. So, for this one night, it was just me and Ricky (okay, yes, and a whole bunch of others but they’re just background noise for the sake of this post).

A quick bathroom stop later (had to refresh my makeup after all), I headed to the stalls to find my seat. My EXCELLENT seat that was twelve rows from the front with so much leg room I almost felt embarrassed having a seat in such a wide row, being so short. But then I realised I was seated in the thoroughfare between the two seating sections. A thoroughfare that also lead to the toilets. And, as luck would not have it, I was seated at the side leading to the men’s. You never fully appreciate how much beer guys drink at gigs until you’re seated right near where they go to pee. I swear I saw every guy there pass me at least twice before the lights start to dim.
Look how close my seat was! That's my grey-booted foot!

But dim they did and all thoughts of beer and leg room and pee, evaporated.

The darkness heralded the warm-up act. The delightful Doc Brown. An unenviable position, he had to content with people arriving, chatting, shuffling down the aisles, racing out for their third pee. But he gallantly soldiered on, ending with the most hilarious rap about putting a duvet cover on a duvet that I’ve ever heard. It spoke to me. I understood his pain, his frustration. Putting on a duvet cover IS the hardest thing ever.

As delightful as Doc Brown was, I’m not going to lie, seeing him exit the stage made a smile break out across my face in which I’m sure I pulled a muscle.
Not long now.

They say you should never meet your heroes. I knew I wasn’t meeting Gervais, but seeing his stand up live was probably the closest I was ever going to come to seeing him in.the.flesh. As the minutes counted down, I felt those damn blind butterflies crashing around in my stomach again. The shaky hands were back, too, as I quickly stowed away my mobile phone. (You did NOT want to get caught taking a photo in this place.) What I had thought was anxiety about arriving at the Apollo in time was now, I realised, anxiety about what I was about to see.

My expectations couldn’t help but be ridiculously high, try as I might to splash cold water on them. Would fifteen years of adoration be dashed by ninety minutes of crap? Would I never be able to watch The Office again without thinking back to that miserable night at the Apollo?

And then, the lights dimmed again. My breath caught. My thoughts stilled.

And it was Ricky. Within the first minute he was already calling himself God and I knew, I just knew, it was going to be brilliant.

And of course it was.

I’m not going to review the content – I can only hope it was filmed at some point so you can all experience the hilarity, the crudeness, the brilliance, the shockingness, the heartfelt-ness of it all – because the only way to appreciate stand up is seeing it for yourself.

But there was, inevitably, a moment that stayed with me.

Right after calling out Hollywood celebs for getting away with manslaughter, but right before joking about the local paedo from the estate in which he grew up, Ricky touched on his annoyance at being constantly asked why he doesn’t have children. And how, surely, it was different asking people why they don’t have kids as opposed to asking people why they do have kids. It was a brief but serious moment. (Followed inevitably by his hilarious answers that used the word c*nt so often, and so accurately that I think I nearly passed out from laughing too much).

It was interesting hearing a man justifying his life choices in ways women have had to do for so, so long. What was even more interesting was that his reasons for not having kids, almost exactly mirror my own (save for the whole bringing kids into unimaginable wealth – that reason, not so much relevant to my life).

So there you have it. On a night when anxiety and expectation threatened to take over, it turns out it was one of the better dates I’ve ever been on. There was laughter, there were discussions about our pets and there was common ground. Because, ladies and gentlemen, Ricky Gervais is God (if you believe that sorta thing).

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

On accidentally becoming a cat person

Building a new life in a new city can throw challenges at you both big and small. Most challenges are to be expected; learning a new public transport system, setting up a bank account, finding the local pub, getting a job, making friends. Some are not; Brexit, realising your old winter clothes are a laughing stock when compared to ACTUAL winter clothes, Brexit, knowing your phone calls home will always mean one side of the conversation is just waking up while the other is on its way to being drunk and never the two wavelengths shall meet, Brexit.
What I hadn’t planned on were challenges that would fundamentally change who I was. And in that respect, there is one challenge needs addressing, and has needed addressing for some time. For the eagle-eyed amongst you, you will have noticed a certain someone who has crept into my Twitter feed and onto my ‘currently reading’ page. And for those of you who have spotted this certain someone, and also know me well, will surely be wondering WHAT TH…

On the privilege of seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (no spoilers, promise!)

Beloved characters from books, films and television shows are often sacred ground for us fans. We have journeyed with them, taken them into our hearts and think about them when our real lives are being a little less than spectacular. And so, when these characters are revisited for what sometimes feels like a money grab, and what sometimes is (I’m sure) a form of closure for the creatives, we wait with the duelling emotions of hope and fear, wondering if those in charge are about to wreck everything. Most often than not, they do wreck things, a lot (Mitch Hurwitz and your Arrested Development season 4 shambles, I’m looking at you!). While I always want more Bridget Jones, Mad About the Boy didn’t quite do it for me and I’m terrified about seeing Bridget Jones’s Baby for fear that watching it will forever ruin the first film and first two books for me. Similarly, I’m nervous about the upcoming Gilmore Girls episodes even though I’d give my right arm to go back to Stars Hollow. And maybe…

On buying toilet paper in a new city

It’s the little things. They’re the parts of life that can offer the greatest moments of joy or send you into the darkest depths of despair. This is true never more so than when you’re trying to create a new life away from the comfort, security and familiarity of home.
The first time I moved to the UK was ten years ago. I was in my mid-twenties (read: actual mid-twenties) and I was lucky enough to have arrived with a job and friends to stay with until I got my own place sorted. Nevertheless, I still experienced some sharp learning curves and long, dark moments of doubt about the choices I’d made. Thankfully, I came out the other side a better, more learned, more experienced person who could often be heard remarking how living in the UK for two years was one of the best things I’d ever done.
On my second move to the UK, which entered its one-month anniversary this past Sunday (hence the reflective tone of this post), I expected things to be very different. I was at a different stage of m…