Now that The Office has gained infamy in America, Ricky Gervais, the brains behind the show’s original, British incarnation, has become a household name. But those who have explored past his role in The Office have discovered Gervais is a Renaissance man, having explored everything from pop music to other outrageous comedy shows in the past.
Gervais was born in Reading, and attended college in London, earning a degree in philosophy. In 1982, he and a friend, Bill Macrae, decided to form a pop band in the typical New Romantic style of the day. A very young, slim and even foppish Gervais can be found in press stills from the time-an amusing surprise for any fans who ever wondered how he got his start. The band, Seona Dancing (pronounced “Shawna Dancing”), was named after a mutual friend of Gervais and Macrae. They produced two singles, “More to Lose” and “Bitter Heart,” but they struggled on the U.K. charts. Disappointed, the band broke up two years after forming (one of the hits reportedly did very well several years later, in Manila, where a New Wave station began spinning “More to Lose” frequently, even attributing it to a fictitious band so that rival stations couldn’t play the track).
Gervais didn’t completely give up in the music business. He became a manager, working with Suede and a Queen tribute band before getting involved in an upstart radio station called Xfm in the late ’90s. Taking on an assistant named Stephen Merchant, Gervais got his own program on the station.
The two would become close friends and collaborators when it came to comedy. His humor found a receptive audience as he made the jump from radio to T.V. He would do cameo roles on programs like Comedy Lab, where in one particularly memorable skit called “Golden Years,” he played the role of a businessman obsessed with David Bowie to the point that he dresses like the infamous rocker. After hosting his own chat show for a few years, Gervais and Merchant came up with the idea of an office-based comedy show. In 2001, the show first aired, becoming a solid hit. The show earned loads of awards and positive reviews, virtually guaranteeing Gervais and Merchant future success.
Gervais followed up with his first stand-up tour, Animals. Though he didn’t have a stand-up background, the tour proved very successful (and was followed with a more recent tour, Politics). He began popping up in American programs, as well, with a cameo appearance in Alias in 2004. But his big American break came in 2005 with Extras, an HBO show about no-name actors struggling to get a line and earn fame and fortune. The show won as much critical acclaim as The Office, which received wider exposure after an American spin-off began airing at the same time as Extras.
In 2008, Gervais earned his first starring role in a major American comedy, Ghost Town. Expect to see this funnyman a lot more in the future. He has plenty more to offer, so get Ricky Gervais tickets from http://www.stubhub.com/ricky-gervais-tickets before they all sell out.