Tag Archives: Ricky Gervais

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Funny people talking about being funny

If you ever think of yourself as “funny” and you don’t edit your work constantly (ie you just keep using the same material). Then listen to these funny people on the nature of writing and performing standup (language warning).

A lot of good preachers say stand up comedy is important to preaching. I agree. In a limited sense. Preaching isn’t comedy, but there are very few other careers where people make a living out of standing up and talking.

There are four parts to this. They get progressively cruder, but there’s some gold for preachers there. Know your big idea for everything you say, where you want the audience to get to, and make sure they get the point so it doesn’t bomb. Work hard at having a good package for special occasions because new people might be hearing you for the first time. It’s not your job to say things the audience could come up with by themselves, you’re there to stretch them… know how long to go for. Jerry Seinfeld also has an interesting position on swearing (he doesn’t) as a comic because he says people are only laughing because of the shock – not because of the material – which is a good message for anybody who wants to shock from the pulpit to cover over for preparation or content.

David Brent appears in American Office, tears hole in space-time continuum

Ricky Gervais made a guest appearance, as David Brent, on the American version of the Office recently. Which created a weird question that now needs resolving:

“The pilot episode of the American Office was an ever-so-slightly altered version of the same script of Ricky Gervais’ first episode of the UK Office. As separate entities, this makes sense. After the pilot, the American version deviated almost entirely from the plot of its UK counterpart. But now that it’s confirmed that these two do exist in the same world, how could two human beings could live such eerily similar days — repeating pretty much the exact same lines of dialogue? ”

Some possible explanations, and further considerations, here at Movieline.

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The Gervais Principle

Office culture is best understood through the lens of popular culture. That’s why Office Space and Dilbert are so popular.

The Office is another one of those seminal “texts”* on office life.

A blogger named Venkatesh Rao has combed through the Office and diluted from it a new “principle” to supersede the Dilbert Principle when it comes to our understanding of office life.

He breaks office employees down into three categories – the sociopath, the clueless, and the loser.

Below is an extended quote from his first post. He followed it up with a second. Check them out.

The Gervais Principle is this:

Sociopaths, in their own best interests, knowingly promote over-performing losers into middle-management, groom under-performing losers into sociopaths, and leave the average bare-minimum-effort losers to fend for themselves.

The Gervais principle differs from the Peter Principle, which it superficially resembles. The Peter Principle states that all people are promoted to the level of their incompetence. It is based on the assumption that future promotions are based on past performance. The Peter Principle is wrong for the simple reason that executives aren’t that stupid, and because there isn’t that much room in an upward-narrowing pyramid. They know what it takes for a promotion candidate to perform at the “to” level. So if they are promoting people beyond their competence anyway, under conditions of opportunity scarcity, there must be a good reason.

Scott Adams, seeing a different flaw in the Peter Principle, proposed the Dilbert Principle: that companies tend to systematically promote their least-competent employees to middle management to limit the damage they can do. This again is untrue. The Gervais principle predicts the exact opposite: that the most competent ones will be promoted to middle management. Michael Scott was a star salesman before he become a clueless middle manager. The least competent employees (but not all of them — only certain enlightened incompetents) will be promoted not to middle management, but fast-tracked through to senior management. To the sociopath level.

And in case you are wondering, the unenlightened under-performers get fired.

*Because thanks to my arts degree (or QUT equivalent) I know that everything is a “text”…

YouTube Twosday: Ricky Gervais on Christianity

Anyone who checked out the iMonk’s post on atheism may have seen this already… but this is the “new” new atheism. Not rabid, but friendly. Not insulting, but funny. Not arrogant, but “humble”, not scientific, but cultural…

How do you counter these arguments of religion as a positive form of social control that isn’t necessary for “enlightened” people?

I’d suggest it’s not like the Pyromaniac Centuri0n would have us do it… he suggests, in a series of posts, that we move away from apologetics, and just preach the gospel – both the iMonk and Frank Turk (Centuri0n) suggest the likes of William Lane Craig have the approach wrong – and we should either be cultural or biblical – not philosophical.

Me, being a pragmatist, I think we need to have a balance of all three. You can’t use the Bible on people who reject the fundamental premise of a book authored by God. Especially if they insist on deduction rather than induction. So you need to take the philosophical apologetic when arguing for the existence of God. And you can’t do any of this without getting the cultural element right – and I’d say one of the big issues there is the damage done to our reputation by nominal or apathetic Christians. So don’t be one of those.