This week's edition of Take the Edge Off may not actually introduce you to something new, as I'm sure most folks have heard of Ricky Gervais' HBO series Extras, but I want to talk about it anyway because there may be a few of you out there who haven't seen it yet, and even if you have you could do with a few clips because it's just too damn funny not to watch now and again.
Now, most people think of Ricky Gervais and they think of the UK version of The Office. His writing and portrayal of middle-management schmuck David Brent ushered in the "awkward moment" era of comedy that focuses on squeezing every painful moment from the consequences of a misspoken word or poorly thought out idea. Of course, we here in the U.S. have embraced (or stole, whatever) this style of comedy with actors like Steve Carrell, Paul Rudd, and Ben Stiller, so Gervais is most often referenced for his influence from The Office. My problem is that The Office can be just too painful at times. Those uncomfortable moments just drag on for what seems like an eternity, and while it's usually hilarious I can only watch a person completely humiliate themselves as David Brent does for so long before it get's to be unbearable.
That's why I prefer Extras. Gervais plays Andy Millman, a starving actor who scrapes by as an extra in various movies while trying to make his big break, and to be honest he's pretty similar to David Brent in that he keeps finding himself in the most uncomfortable situations. But in Extras, the situations are just too over-the-top to be painful, as opposed to the "it could happen to you" faux pas scenarios you find in The Office. I mean, it's hard to imagine yourself in this situation:
Plus, you have to love any tv show that brings on a special guest with the sole purpose of making them look like world class douche bags. It kind of works as a humility barometer to see which actors/actresses will go on the show and play whacked-out caricatures of themselves. Kate Winslet, for example, is a real "goer" when it comes to phone sex, Daniel Radcliffe will hump your leg if given the opportunity, and Orlando Bloom is actually very insecure about his looks. The best guest spot, though, is given by Patrick Stewart, who I actually kind of hope is really like this:
And then, last but not least, there's Darren Lamb, Andy's agent played by actor/writer Stephen Merchant. I mean, there is honestly no way for me to describe him and do him justice, so I'm just going to let the character speak for himself (warning NSFW due to brief pen nudity....you'll see)
Now, like any good British comedy series, Extras only lasts for two seasons and, for some reason, a Christmas special. So if you Netflix it you won't have to take too much time getting through it. If you've never seen it before let me know what you think. If you have seen it before, well just watch it again dammit.
Oh, and by the way, do you think Chris Martin realizes that he pretty much is as much of a putz in real life as he is on the show?