What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos

1

Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers

2

Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge

3

Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more
Close
With rendition switcher

Transcript

Question: Do different mediums require different personalities?Ricky Gervais:    Of course.  And it’s still based on the same principles of what I think comedy is about.  I think there’s a big difference between comedy and sense of humor.  And I think a comedian’s job isn’t just to make people laugh.  That’s easy, that could be a reflex. 

You see some comedians; it’s the rhythm.  They could even throw in a fake punch line, they get a laugh.  And I think it’s about making people think about it, and why it’s funny. I think comedy is about empathy.  I can’t laugh with people I don’t like.  I think you should know to be above the audience. 

And there’s nothing remotely funny about seeing unfeasibly handsome, brilliant people come out and tell you why they’re brilliant.  I want to see parts losing its way, falling over, and getting back up and dusting himself up.  And you also got to see that humanity, that sort of struggle in anything, really.  As opposed to changing my personality. Now I don’t but, of course, everything you do has got a persona. 

Chat shows playing a sort of characters.  It’s not completely me.  You know, I never let my guard down when I act.  When I’m on Jon Stewart, I don’t act completely like I do with my friends.  You know, you still edit yourself.  You're still present. 

Stand-up, again, is a persona.  I play a brasher, more arrogant, more confident version of myself.  And then, there’s another level on that, that I usually play the guy who says the wrong thing.  The target of my stand-up scene, likely soft targets, but, of course, the target is the audience’s own prejudice and middle class angst and me.  I’m always the butt of a joke.  I’m ignorant.  I come down on the wrong side. 

Nelson Mandela, what a great guy, often gets a round of applause, incarcerate for over 25 years, released in 1990.  He’s been out now for 19 years.  And he hasn't reoffended.  I think he’s going straight, which shows you prison does work. 

I play getting it wrong.  And then, in the characters I play, from David Brent to Andy Millman, Dr. Pincus in Ghost Town, there’re variations of each other.  I always play that part, that wisecracker in the face of adversity.  And I don’t apologize for that. 

I’ve never see this thing about an actor trying to show his versatility.  To who?  To a casting director?  I cast myself.  To the audience?  I don’t care.  All my favorite people have done one thing well, forever.  Woody Allen, same character.  Bob Hope, same character.  Groucho Marx, same character.  Different situations.

Even great actors, they play versions of themselves.  They play it with their voice; Dustin Hoffman.  Oh, they wear three different wigs. Who cares, you know.  Things like, I don’t know, sketches; they don’t resonate.  They don’t mean as much as a character that’s got a full development and a narrative.

My outlet has always been the other characters that I create in “The Office” excites me much more to be the creator and the director of every other character in “The Office” than me, putting the wig on and doing it.  That’s a period of victory for me because you can’t suspend your disbelief.  So that’s important to me.  Realism is always been important to me. 

 

Recorded on Feb 25, 2009.

More from the Big Idea for Thursday, January 20 2011

 

Ricky Gervais on the Princi...

Newsletter: Share: