Filmed in Madison Square Garden, Ricky Gervais' stand up comedy special, Out of England, begins with Elvis like fanfare: his name in giant lights, pyrotechnics, a crown, and a velvet cape. It quickly turns less extravagant as his sips on a Fosters (a large can he points out, in case people watching think he's a dwarf) and begins borderline offensive jokes about cancer and obesity. He manages to never quite cross the line and I found myself laughing at things that are usually off limits.
That's part of the undeniable charm of Ricky Gervais, on one side he is witty and almost philosophical – a man intrigued by the world around him and dismayed by the idiocy within it. On the other hand, he can just seem like a complete asshole, and not just to play a part. Both personas are on display here as he jokes equally about alternatives for anal sex and the logistics of Humpty Dumpty.
As a wildly successful television star (if at this point you still haven't seen the original version of The Office, I won't tell anyone if you promise to just quietly rent them immediately) he manages to make the leap to stand up pretty well. I thought it usually went the other way. If you're a fan, this special is a must see. If you're not a fan, I hope you don't offend too easily. It airs again tonight on HBO 2 at 10:00 and, if I know HBO quite a few more times after that.