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Ricky Gervais: Out of England - The Stand-Up Special - comedy DVD / HBO television DVD review
Not rated by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Featuring: Ricky Gervais
Director: John Moffitt   Distributor: HBO Home Video
DVD release: 31 March 2009   Runtime: 72 minutes
(1 disc)
Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC

DVD features: Aspect ratio 1.78:1, Audio (English - Dolby Digital 2.0), Conversation with Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais is the funniest thing to come out of England since Douglas Adams. The U.S. probably first noticed him when The Office started running on BBC America. His portrayal of David Brent, the incompetent office manager (played by Steve Carell in the American version) left state-side and UK audiences cringing, wanting to like him but denied it by his actions. Gervais's brand of comedy quite often takes the form of ignorance or brash cruelty. It's difficult to like David Brent or Andy Millman, the character he created for Extras - they by turns endear us and distance us.

As difficult as it is to like his characters, it's impossible to dislike him in his Out of England comedy special. He still plays up some of that ignorance, but with a knowing wink. He treads on difficult ground here - including obesity, cancer, autism, and the Holocaust - but does it in such a way, perfectly holding the audience's attention and manipulating their funny bones, that we know exactly where he's coming from. Gervais is a brilliant conductor: with a simple arch of his eyebrow, the simplest gesture, the audience laughs, whether at home or in the theatre.

Gervais does more than just tell jokes: he tells stories. His stories seem to hold the audience better than rapid fire jokes might, and you get the sense that there's a nugget of truth to many of these tales. He talks of his public persona, putting on good airs with his neighbors (but only until he can get a fence built to provide some distance). We know this may be the story the tabloids would tell, so Gervais raises the bar by a couple of notches. He is, simply put, brilliant.

It's the finest comedy show I've seen in ages, the sort of show that you can watch over and over and still find yourself rolling with laughter. I've always enjoyed Gervais's work, but I didn't honestly think that I'd find Out of England this re-watchable. I can't say I've seen its like since the '80s. It is as re-watchable as Eddie Murphy's Delirious or A Steven Wright Special. Not to be missed!
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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