Karl Pilkington has debated the merits of eating a kangaroo's penis for breakfast, envisioned a wristwatch that counts down the time left in a person's life and proposed a new population control system in which elderly women give birth at the moment of their deaths. He has mused on topics ranging from caveman "bear pants" to dishwashers on Mars, and reported "news stories" about the triumphs of chimpanzees as bricklayers and television talk show hosts. In so doing, Mr. Pilkington, a 33-year-old unemployed radio producer from Manchester, England, has become the object of a global Internet cult, a Guinness world record-holder and the unlikely harbinger of a technological revolution.Of course, you've listened to these podcasts, haven't you? If not... you're so lucky! You have so much fun ahead of you. Gervais alone is great, but Gervais talking to Pilkington -- sublime!
Mr. Pilkington is the breakout star of "The Ricky Gervais Show," a podcast presided over by Mr. Gervais, the British comedian behind "The Office" and "Extras," and his co-writer and co-director, Stephen Merchant. In its brief, 12-episode run this winter, the program, available on the Web site of The Guardian (guardian.co.uk/rickygervais), has racked up nearly three million free downloads, the most ever for a podcast, according to the Guinness book. While these numbers reflect the international popularity of Mr. Gervais, the program's title is a bit misleading. The show is almost entirely devoted to the esoteric ramblings of Mr. Pilkington, whom Mr. Gervais has called both "the funniest man in Britain" and "that little bald-headed Manc idiot."
I love the way the two are so completely dumb and smart at the same time. Like, in the 12th podcast, when they start talking about Wittgenstein's remark that if a lion could speak, we wouldn't be able to understand him. Gervais restates Wittgenstein's point so crisply that it's clear how smart Gervais is, and Pilkington starts down a thoroughly Pilkingtonesque line of thinking: it would depend on the lion, maybe you could understand a lion in the London zoo, better than a worm at least, what could a worm tell you, even if it is English, etc. It's so purely stupid, yet you'd have to be quite brilliant to be capable of saying it.
Somewhat related: I talk about that Wittgenstein quote, Koko the Gorilla, and Mardi Gras.