Ricky Gervais: The new podcast

Sausages and Descartes feature in his new podcast, says Julian Hall

In September 2006, Ricky Gervais announced that he was to stop recording comedy podcasts with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, saying he wanted to "knock it on the head for a while before everyone hates us". But the pontificating triumvirate are back, and today sees the release of the latest podcast in the series, The Ricky Gervais Guide to... This one's about philosophy, the series having so far covered medicine, natural history and the arts. The final podcast will be on "England and the English".

Gervais's website is a packed scrapbook trumpeting each of the comedian's projects, achievements and interviews. On it, the success story of The Ricky Gervais Show (five seasons on Xfm from 2001 to 2005, when the first podcast was launched) is laid out in a bewildering display of number-crunching. "The first series runs to 12 episodes between 5 Dec and 20 Feb 2006. When logs are analysed early in 2006, Guinness World Records ratified The Ricky Gervais Show as the most downloaded podcasts ever, with well over 250,000 downloads in the first month." Elsewhere we learn that "The Ricky Gervais Show was downloaded 4,611,655 times by 1,681,098 unique users in February [2009]. That puts the total at nearly 160 million." Meanwhile, the press release for the latest series boasts: "Ricky Gervais's audiobooks have sold over 3 million episodes and the new series is at No 1 in the charts in 14 countries worldwide including America and the UK." Oh; and don't forget that Gervais's blog is read by half a million people a week.

If these statistics sound a bit Brentian, it's fair to say that Gervais has made a success of the podcast medium, certainly more so than his film career up to this point. The success of his podcasts is down to the same approach that, by and large, makes his stand-up so enjoyable; they are both about the appeal of the down-to-earth humour of the "man down the pub" who can toy with trivia. Unlike stand-up, or short bursts of banter between records, the rhythm of the podcast demands closer listening in order to follow the trail as the trio grope their way towards something approaching a punchline. In Gervais's broad-brush stand-up shows, particularly Politics and Fame, the subjects themselves barely get lip service. But with the nebulous subject matter of "philosophy", it's virtually impossible for this pub chat to go too far awry. Perhaps that's to be expected from Gervais, a former student of the subject.

At the start, Gervais observes that "cod philosophies" of the new-age kind – mediums, crystals, feng shui – have given the discipline a bad name. Merchant recounts that when he was hosting a BBC World Service show, a medium told him: "You like to communicate with people on a global level."

From there, they move to one of the key building blocks of philosophy, Descartes's cogito ergo sum – "the first thing we did at university", according to Gervais. Pilkington, asked how he knows that life is not a dream, replies: "Because I haven't been sleeping that well lately."

Gervais cracks up here. Though his cackling can feel a little forced, he's right to find Karl Pilkington funny. We learn that, as long as Karl's boiler is fixed, he doesn't mind whether he is living in a dream or not, and that a packet of Munchies is integral to his limited capacity to enjoy life.

Sausages and curry also feature on the menu of illustrative philosophy. The morsels served up by the trio are intermittently tasty rather than a comedy banquet, but they'll whet your appetite for the rest of the series.



'The Ricky Gervais Guide to... Philosophy' will be available to download at iTunes or audible.co.uk (or .com) from today

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Legendary charm: Clive Owen and Keira Knightley in 2004’s ‘King Arthur’
FilmGuy Ritchie is the latest filmmaker to tackle the legend
Arts and Entertainment
Corporate affair: The sitcom has become a satire of corporate culture in general

TV review

Broadcasting House was preparing for a visit from Prince Charles spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: There are some impressive performances by Claire Skinner and Lorraine Ashbourne in Inside No. 9, Nana's Party spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Glastonbury's pyramid stage

Glastonbury Michael Eavis reveals final headline act 'most likely' British pair

Arts and Entertainment
Ewan McGregor looks set to play Lumiere in the Beauty and the Beast live action remake

Film Ewan McGregor joins star-studded Beauty and the Beast cast as Lumiere

Arts and Entertainment
Charlie feels the lack of food on The Island with Bear Grylls

TV

The Island with Bear Grylls under fire after male contestants kill and eat rare crocodile
Arts and Entertainment
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Quicksilver and Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch, in a scene from Avengers: Age Of Ultron
filmReview: A great cast with truly spectacular special effects - but is Ultron a worthy adversaries for our superheroes? spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Ince performing in 2006
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Beth (played by Jo Joyner) in BBC1's Ordinary Lies
tvReview: There’s bound to be a second series, but it needs to be braver spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry, the presenters of The Great Comic Relief Bake Off 2015

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Harold Ramis' original Groundhog Day film, released in 1993

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Christopher Eccleston (centre) plays an ex-policeman in this cliché-riddled thriller

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey looks very serious as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

TV This TV review contains spoilers
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Wiz Khalifa performs on stage during day one of the Wireless Festival at Perry Park in Birmingham

music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury

music

Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars creator George Lucas

film

Arts and Entertainment

music

Arts and Entertainment
A shot from the forthcoming Fast and Furious 7

film

Arts and Entertainment
The new-look Top of the Pops could see Fearne Cotton returns as a host alongside Dermot O'Leary

TV

Arts and Entertainment
The leader of the Church of Scientology David Miscavige

TV

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence