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Ricky Gervais On Loving Atheism and Jetpacks
* Interview by Jane Borden | by phone from England, October 2009 | cassette recording
* Related article appeared in Time Out New York
* Executive Producer: David Gerlach
David Gerlach: You’re listening to Blank on Blank. I’m David Gerlach, and thank you for joining us as we partner with journalists and interviewers, writers and authors. Together we’re building an archive of American interviews.
Today we have actor and comedian Ricky Gervais on his beliefs, atheism, and why jetpacks top his wishlist. It all comes from a conversation he had with Jane Borden; she’s the comedy editor at Time Out New York magazine. They spoke by phone a few years back and we jump in with Ricky Gervais explaining why his views about religion aren’t central to his routine or his punchlines. This is Blank on Blank.
Jane Borden: You don’t seem to be out trying to skewer religion in your work.
Ricky Gervais: Why do I care? Why do I care if someone believes in God? It doesn’t bother me at all. Just like I don’t care what people think of me and my beliefs. I haven’t really got a campaign.
Jane Borden: You just want someone to disagree with you when you make fun of the way you look.
Ricky Gervais: (Laughs) Yeah. Oh, that would be a good campaign, wouldn’t it?
Jane Borden: That seems to be what you’ve said you’re doing.
Ricky Gervais: Yeah, that’s right
Jane Borden: We all have one great motivator.
Ricky Gervais: Yeah. It’s always a worry when you bang the drum on everything. Because, why? Why would I… just because I know there is no God. I say it if I’m asked. I’d even… If someone wanted me to lecture in atheism at Oxford University, I’d do it to people who turned up to that class. But, no, I’m not going to go door-to-door… an atheist Mormon or a Jehovah’s witness, that’s what I do. Yeah.
[Music: Lou Donaldson - “It’s Your Thing”]
Ricky Gervais: You’re hard wired. You are what you are. So there’s no explaining why you feel something about something more strongly than others. You know what: I’ve never understood train-spotting. But I now know that it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter why someone is excited about trains. I learned this when people said to me things like: ‘Why do you like that?’ I’m thinking: ‘Well because I do.’ ‘Why do you think that’s funny?’ ‘Because I do.’ Trying to explain something you feel strongly about in art or politics is rather like saying, ‘How can you have a pain in your leg? I can’t feel it.’ ‘Because I have.’ That’s how it is.
Jane Borden: What’s on your life wish list?
Ricky Gervais: Well, apart from the obvious ones? You don’t want to die lonely and in horrible pain. That goes without saying, doesn’t it? That would be… What are the things… I wish there was a God. That would be amazing.
Jane Borden: Why?
Ricky Gervais: Because from what I’ve heard, he’s all-powerful and he’s all good. So he would sort a few things out.
Jane Borden: The lamenting atheist; that’s interesting.
Ricky Gervais: It would be great. It’s just not true. It just can’t be, so… So what I’m really wishing for is justice in the world, honor, really, and wishing that every one gets their reward, which clearly isn’t true. So let’s see… An individual jetpack. I’ve been waiting for that for ages. They promised me that from the 60s that in the year 1984 we would all have jetpacks. That was a load of rubbish.
Jane Borden: How would a jetpack work? It would burn your feet. You’d burn up.
Ricky Gervais: Okay, a hoverboard then. I like the idea of a jetpack.
[Music: Theme from “The Jetsons”]
Ricky Gervais: What’s my biggest wish? That everyone died in their sleep. Then nothing would matter. You would go out… Every day and night would be great.
Jane Borden: People would stop sleeping. They would try to beat death. (Laughs)
Ricky Gervais: What I mean is whenever you died, it was just peacefully in your sleep. So there was no pain.
Jane Borden: Right, I know what you mean. But if that were the case, don’t you think people would try to find a way to cheat it?
Ricky Gervais: Oh, you’ve ruined it. You’ve ruined the jetpack and the sleeping…
Jane Borden: (Laughing) Oh, no. I’m a terrible person.
Ricky Gervais: Ok, world peace. No, I’ll change that: Jetpack. As long as I can fly, I’ll just stay out of bad areas.
[Music: The Specials “A Message to You Rudy”]
David Gerlach: That’s comedian Ricky Gervais on atheism and jetpacks, and this is Blank on Blank. Thanks go out to Jane Borden, the comedy editor for Time Out New York, for adding this conversation to the archive. Her extended interview with Gervais can be read at TimeOutNewYork.com. Also be sure to check out Jane’s new memoir. It’s called “I Totally Meant to Do That.” It comes out in March 2011. Now for more Blank on Blank interviews that you can hear nowhere else, including Ricky Gervais on those small differences between the United States and England, head over to BlankonBlank.org. I’m David Gerlach. Keep listening.
Music: Lou Donaldson “It’s Your Thing” | “The Jetsons” Theme Song | The Specials “A Message to You Rudy”
Photos: Entertainment Press / Shutterstock.com
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