Ricky Gervais: Science, Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh
Thursday 27 August 2009
As with Animals, Politics and Fame, Ricky Gervais' new show, Science, bears little or no relation to its moniker; rather, it is an excuse to set the stage as Frankenstein's castle laboratory. Of course, what's in a name if the material is good?
Certainly, Gervais starts evenly enough, in particular with an amusing tale about watching Ken Dodd perform in Regent's Park alongside a sexually excited female fan. The routine builds to Gervais making a bizarre soundscape of Dodd's trademark groans and the moans of this over-amorous lady mixed in with Gervais' own gasping bewilderment.
Inevitably, in what follows, there is a large measure of tongue-in-cheek political incorrectness. So for example, Gervais wants to keep the goat that his friends have gifted an African family in his name. This kind of shtick falls down for me, however, when he describes the only time he found himself drinking and driving. Remarking that he nearly knocked over an old woman he adds: "I didn't though... I raped her." Gervais says that this is his "favourite" joke, but it is ill-judged to say the least.
When you go from this rape joke to a joke about how spiders look like they are "always ready", you can see how unstructured Science is. In many shows themes and ideas weave in and out and, as a reviewer or an audience member, you are able to pick up threads and tie them together. With Science you might as well talk about it chronologically, as a timeline is the show's only binding.
The longest section of the show is a dissection of an old school book Gervais recently found that tells the story of Noah's Ark. This fable is every atheist's dream, an easy comic target and one that is revisited often. Trashing it is perhaps the only part of the show that links to science in the sense that the tale is irrational and his embroidery is attempting to undermine it. "Toucans fly! Get there first!" he exclaims pointing at a projected image of the birds walking to the ark.
Weakly lampooning a couple of Oscar Wilde quotes and noting that swearing would be out of place on the Antiques Roadshow are just some of the gems that come before the end of this 75-minute show. Perhaps Hollywood, the reason why Gervais' stock has risen lately, is also why his latest stand-up offering is his most disappointing.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
- 2 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 3 Andy Murray takes to Twitter to show off his Christmas jumper
- 4 Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'
- 5 Top 10 travel destinations for 2015: From Haiti and Alaska to Namibia and Iceland
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever
Katie Hopkins speaks out on childhood obesity: 'Parents of fat children should be prosecuted for child cruelty'